5 Shakespeare Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (and One Bonus)

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December 8, 2023
5 Shakespeare Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (and One Bonus)
Jamie Litton
Shakespeare Now

Shakespeare Unlimited

Created by the Folger Shakespeare Library, this podcast features interviews with scholars, writers, actors, directors, and more grappling with Shakespeare’s work and its modern connections (and conflicts). Covering a wide range of topics from race and religion to little-known facts and modern adaptations, this podcast manages to be both entertaining and educational. Recent episodes cover AI technology in the English classroom, the ways in which Blackness operates in Shakespeare’s plays, and an interview with James Ijames who won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fat Ham, his Black and queer adaptation of Hamlet set in the American South.


Shakespeare decoded.

With each episode featuring a different host and panelists, this podcast tackles various social issues through a Shakespearean lens. Is Shakespeare still relevant? The answer lies in how we engage with Shakespeare in new and critical ways, as well adapting our engagement to become increasingly inclusive and socially aware. With episode titles such as “Colonization and Subjugation in The Tempest” and “Much Ado About the Sexual Distrust of Women”, Shakespeare decoded. argues that Shakespeare’s work still has a lot to say about “the burning issues in today’s dysfunctional global society.”


Shakespeare Anyone?

Hosted by Elyse Sharp and Kourtney Smith, two professional actors and “hobbyist Shakespeare scholars,” this podcast analyzes Shakespeare’s work one play at a time. The hosts discuss each play over several full-length episodes, with mini-episodes in between that dive into historical context and noteworthy trivia. Subtitled, “A podcast by two Shakespeare nerds minus the bardolatry,” this show critically examines each play through an intersectional lens, discussing racism, sexism, colonialism, and more. Mini-episodes offer fun, bite-sized additions to the catalog on topics such as “Commerce and Trade in Shakespeare’s Time,” “Shakespeare’s Changeling Children,” and “Plague, Quarantine, & Shakespeare.”


Where There’s a Will: Finding Shakespeare

Much like James Shapiro’s Shakespeare in a Divided America, Where There’s a Will searches for the Bard in “surprising places” and examines how and why Shakespeare has permeated our lives and cultures for so many centuries. The show kicks off with a look at a violent 1849 riot that occurred at a Shakespearean theater in New York City, and later episodes feature a behind-the-scenes look at a Shakespeare production in prison, an investigation into how Shakespeare has influenced American presidents, and a featured story about children on the autism spectrum developing a love for the Bard.

Image of podcasting microphone

Approaching Shakespeare

Produced by the University of Oxford, this series compiles lectures by Shakespearean scholar Emma Smith, author of This Is Shakespeare. Each episode tackles a single play (thirty-one in all!). Smith’s lectures capture Shakespeare’s ambiguities, emphasizing how his plays ask—rather than answer—questions about relationships, religion, morality, and more. Smith’s intellectually rigorous analysis manages to be welcoming and accessible at the same time.


Bonus! Play on Podcasts

Play on Podcasts covers more than just Shakespeare, but the show contains rich Shakespeare content, as well as full audio of the plays performed by diverse casts with impressive sound design that brings the stories to life. As a part of their Macbeth series, Play on Podcasts enlists Edward Torres to direct a majority Latinx cast that includes three drag superstars from RuPaul’s Drag Race, playing the parts of The Witches with striking sass and musical bravado. The podcast also features interviews with Shakespearean actors, composers, journalists, and other creatives who have a vested interest in reexamining, reinterpreting, and reimagining Shakespeare’s work for our modern times.