Director Jimmy Walters and actress Alexandra Evans invite you to their virtual book club, Shakespeare in Quarantine, a new weekly podcast exploring the extensive back catalogue of the infamous William Shakespeare.
The podcast provides a fresh and interesting take on some of the Bard’s greatest plays from Othello to Taming of the Shrew. Featuring exciting guest appearances each week, they aim to unpick the story, unravel the language and make Shakespeare accessible.
You’ve launched a new weekly podcast series Shakespeare in Quarantine, what can you tell us about it?
Shakespeare in Quarantine is a weekly podcast where we explore his great works. We dissect them, discuss and debate, invite exciting guests on who hold a particular connection to the play, and hopefully encourage our audience to go and read or watch the play that week. That’s our aim.
What inspired you to launch this podcast with Alexandra Evans?
Proud Haddock our theatre company is currently in limbo with two shows put on hold due to Covid. I was lying in bed one day at the start of lockdown feeling very bored. I was bored of Netflix bombardment and instead wanted to intellectually stimulate myself in some way. Rereading a Shakespeare play each week was my goal but then I thought why not share this with an audience. I called Alex who I’ve known for several years and she came up with the idea to make this a podcast.
She is extremely intelligent and holds lots of exciting opinions, so I knew that she’d be the perfect person to collaborate with on this. James (my business partner) and I set to work on how to make this an exciting Proud Haddock venture that can play to this new virtual reality we find ourselves in.
Have you always been a Shakespeare fan, and what first attracted you to the works of the Bard?
I first fell in love with Shakespeare when I was at school and I was lucky enough to have such a wonderful teacher who taught us Henry IV Part 2. I ended up becoming inspired enough to direct a production of this at university and since then I have been a big fan. I’ve been lucky enough to direct several of his plays since and each time they feel as though they could have been written on the day they are performed.
How do you think Shakespeare in Quarantine will appeal to people who haven’t felt able to enjoy Shakespeare before?
We aim to make this accessible but not patronising. These stories are actually so simple but also so powerful. We don’t sit there like a couple of academics discussing the beats in the verse or iambic pentameter which would be way too exclusive. We want to make this fun and boil down to the heart of these stories of what is really going on. When that is achieved then everyone enjoys them regardless of whether they are Shakespeare enthusiasts or complete beginners.
How will your guests contribute and how have you chosen who will join you?
We’ve been lucky enough to have some extremely exciting guests thus far and we have some superb ones to come. We always make sure that they have some connection with the play we are discussing either on a personal or professional level and then it’s just a case of getting in touch. The guests always bring something new to each episode and add a different edge which always keeps it fresh and stops any risk of things become formulaic.
At a time when a lot of people have so much free time on their hands, how would you encourage them to spend some of it with Shakespeare in Quarantine?
I would say that if you are bored with TV numbing the brain and you actually want to give yourself a new string to the bow then that will be incredibly rewarding. We are a community where you can meet other people virtually, share ideas and thoughts and become inspired to learn more. I think you’ve missed out on a huge part of life if you have not become acquainted with these amazing stories and what better time than now when the world has hit the pause button.
Main Image: Jimmy Walters