Shakespeare: the work
William Shakespeare the man may still be something of a mystery, but William Shakespeare the playwright is a towering figure in world literature. His plays have been performed, adapted, scrutinised and criticised inside out — yet they live on as supreme examples of poetry and drama. We turn to them to learn about the Elizabethan era in which he lived, the way our language functions, and the inner workings of the human psyche. Four centuries after his death, Shakespeare is as relevant — and entertaining — as ever.
In Shakespeare’s time, women were prohibited from acting onstage. Yet despite — or because of — the all-male casts, the fluidity of gender forms a through line in his work. Modern productions have exploited this by casting female actors in male roles. Was Shakespeare ahead of his time? Where do gender identities stand today?
Fans divided over Ghostbusters all-women cast
The Ghostbusters are back — but this time they’re female! As fans feud over the gender reversal, is it time to repopulate the Hollywood hall of fame with a more diverse cast of characters?
Vanity Fair cover hailed as trans landmark
Transgender Olympic medallist Caitlyn Jenner has revealed her new name and look on the cover of Vanity Fair. How can celebrity culture help us to understand minority identities?
Let teens choose their own gender, say MPs
The first ever government report on trans equality recommends a total overhaul of Britain’s approach to the issue. Should teenagers be allowed to choose their own gender when they turn 16?
Faith survey reveals a nation in doubt
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Ancient gods still worshipped on longest day
Today is the summer solstice – the longest day of the year. In ancient times, it was an important festival of the pagan gods. Could it be time to bring a 3,000-year-old tradition back to life?
Long-lost fairy tales unearthed after 150 years
Once upon a time, 500 fairy stories were lost in a dusty German archive. Now, von Schönwerth’s collection has been discovered – but why are we attracted to these fantastical tales?
Celebrations begin for Moomintroll and Groke
This year marks one hundred years since the birth of Tove Jansson, the Finnish children’s author who created the fantastical, hippo-like creatures. Why are they still so popular today?
Rags to riches: the boy who scored 1009 runs
On Tuesday, a penniless schoolboy smashed a 117-year-old cricket record. His achievement revived the age-old tale of the humble hero who makes good. Why do such success stories fascinate us?
‘Dumbed down’ Romeo rewrite panned by critics
A new version of Romeo and Juliet has suffered a critical mauling after screenwriter Julian Fellowes rewrote large stretches of Shakespeare’s original text to make it easier to understand.
Stage star labels theatre a ‘white invention’
A row over diversity in British drama has escalated after renowned actor Janet Suzman claimed theatre is in the ‘DNA’ of white people. Does the stage need to do more to diversify?
Arts must pay their way, says UK government
The British culture minister has called on arts organisations like theatres and museums to prove that they benefit the economy. But should culture really be valued in pounds and pence?