‘Shall I compare thee…?’

‘Shall I compare thee…?’

Oh yes, it’s completely thrilling to say that The Sonnets by William Shakespeare for the iPad was launched today. A collaboration with Touch Press, Faber and The Arden Shakespeare, it features a wealth of content, including performances on video of all 154 of the poems. You can download it for £9.99 from the iTunes store, and it is already attracting fantastic reviews. As the app of the day at msn’s tech & gadgets it is described as ‘a marvellous piece of work… worth every penny’. For The Telegraph, Shane Richmond awards it 5 stars and describes it as ‘a wonderful app that will provide hours of enjoyment’. Boyd Tonkin wrote in The Independent that the app is ’a digital delight … even the mighty rhymster might have gasped in awe at the latest medium to carry his verse.’ And at the weekend, Robert Collins in the Sunday Times called it, ‘a masterly app… It’s all so intuitively easy to use and so superbly thorough that you start to feel that this is precisely what a book should be. As accessible as it is scholarly, it’s an extraordinary achievement, that brings the sonnets bracingly to life and definitively sets the bar for the future of digital reading.’ (There is so much I want to write about this – so, more later…)

Shakespeare Uncovered and unkind cuts

Shakespeare Uncovered and unkind cuts

After a string of posts about Julius Caesar, this one stays with Shakespeare but shifts the focus to another programme. I want to muse today about the first in the series Shakespeare Uncovered (and I would be grateful if someone can explain to me what the title means.) The idea of these six films, which are made by Blakeway Productions with 116 Films and Thirteen in association with the BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe, is that each one has a prominent thesp (although Trevor Nunn also does one) exploring one of Shakespeare’s plays. To come we have Macbeth with Ethan Hawke (did I mention it is an American co-pro – anyway that’s tonight at 21:00 on BBC Four) and David Tennant on Hamlet. And the first film, shown last week and on BBC iPlayer until 10 July has a radiant Joely Richardson looking at two plays: Twelfth Night and As You Like It.


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‘I shall see thee again’ [Updated]

‘I shall see thee again’ [Updated]

So, friends, Julius Caesar is on BBC iPlayer. Available until 10.29pm on Sunday 1 July. Go here for my round-up of reactions, including links to reviews from the Guardian, The Independent and The Arts Desk, and here for my blog during last night’s broadcast. There is an interesting thread under the Guardian review, and I have posted a couple of the comments across the jump at the bottom. And now I have added a (lengthy) digest of the past 36 hours on Twitter. For me, one of the the most thoughtful responses so far is Peter Kirwan’s at The Bardathon blog which is really worth reading.
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‘Never till tonight, never till now’

‘Never till tonight, never till now’

06:20 (Monday morning): In fact, I didn’t add to the blog (see 22:23 below) after the end of the broadcast. In part this was because my two sons came back from the pub disappointed and dejected (no, they hadn’t been watching Julius Caesar) and in part because some very nice people rang and texted and mailed (with congrats). So I’ve had a night’s sleep to reflect – and I am still totally thrilled with the way the film looked and sounded and leapt off the screen. Greg and the whole cast and the art department under Michael Vale and DOP Steve Lawes and editor Trevor Waite and the sound team and everyone else who contributed have made something really pretty wonderful. A thousand thanks to one and all.
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‘Be thou my witness…’ [Updated]

‘Be thou my witness…’ [Updated]

As I have done previously with our productions of Hamlet (2009) and Macbeth (2010), I am using this page to draw together responses to our new film of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar. The film is first broadcast by BBC Four on Sunday night, 24 June, at 8pm, and we very much hope that you will see it then or during the following week on BBC iPlayer. Over the coming days I will update this post with all of the reactions I can find – and your thoughts and questions will be very welcome in the Comments below. For the latest news, follow @Illuminations on  Twitter – and if you comment about the film there please use #JuliusCaesar. Across the jump you will find links to the key BBC resources, to articles, previews, reviews, blog posts and more, as well as an index of links to all the previous Illuminations posts about Julius Caesar.


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‘The order of the course’

‘The order of the course’

Today we started the grade for our film of the RSC’s Julius Caesar. The final sound mix is underway too. So it’s all a bit busy, and that’s without the other projects to finish off and the new ones to prepare. Here is how ‘the order of the course’ plays out over the next few days. Remember too that all of this is against the backdrop of continuing PR and marketing (my BBC blog post has just gone live, and Greg Doran’s Guardian feature has appeared). Oh, and a pile of paperwork is waiting back at the office, transmission notifications to send, and even this note to scratch out…
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‘Much that I fear may chance’

‘Much that I fear may chance’

It may be that in all the excitement about the imminent transmission of Julius Caesar you have missed the news that the England football team play Ukraine this evening. And although your faithful blogger would not normally bring his interest in the beautiful game to this column, there is a connection between Caesar and what may chance tonight in Donetsk. England are playing for a quarter-final place in the Euro 2012 championship, and should their result better the score of France’s simultaneous game against Sweden, then not only will we proceed to the next round (cue unrestrained rejoicing across the land) but we will also top Group D. In which case we will face Italy on Sunday night, with kick-off at 7.45 pm UK time.
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‘Read mine first…’

‘Read mine first…’

There is something a little strange about seeing in print a review of your programme when it is not yet finished. But the transmission master of our film of the RSC’s Julius Caesar will only be delivered  on the morning of the broadcast – which is next Sunday, 24 June. So in the last few days we have released a handful of not-yet-complete copies for journalists to take a look at – and our first advance review has appeared, courtesy of Michael Moran at The Lady (‘for elegant women with elegant minds’). More on this below, along with extracts from Saturday’s All the world’s a screen by Sarah Hemming for the Financial Times. She discusses films from stage productions, with contributions from our director Greg Doran and nice comments about Macbeth and Hamlet as well as Julius Caesar.
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Happy 30th birthday to us!

Happy 30th birthday to us!

We are 30 years old today!! Illuminations was incorporated on 15 June 1982. We were sort of aware of that but could not quite remember the exact date. But my colleague Linda Zuck has just looked out the paperwork and there it is in black and white. I’m a little overwhelmed, but I will try to blog some birthday thoughts later this evening… after a glass of something fizzy.

‘ ‘Tis but the time’

‘ ‘Tis but the time’

We are thrilled to confirm that our television film of the RSC’s production of Julius Caesar, directed by Greg Doran, will be broadcast on BBC Four at 8pm on Sunday 24 June. As you can imagine we will be blogging throughout next week in the run-up to transmission. The BBC Four programme page is here and this – which I hope is something of a treat – is a three minute clip from the BBC web site. The conspirators have just murdered Caesar. Do let us know what you think…

Image: Calpurnia (Ann Ogbomo) and Caesar (Jeffery Kissoon) on the morning of the Ides of March. Photograph by Ellie Kurttz, taken on the set of the film; © Illuminations/Royal Shakespeare Company.