This is a platform for people who love listening to the language and ideas of Shakespeare’s monologues and scenes and who would like to participate in recording their own sense of the imagery, poetry and drama of the material. If there is a piece you have always wanted to do, this is the place to do it. There are no requirements such as being a professional actor, or a “standard way” of performing. If you want to turn a sonnet into a two person scene, or paraphrase part of it, or play it in mixed English with another language, you are welcome to do so. If you’d like to do it “just straight”, that’s good too.

Think of Playing With Shakespeare as a venue for you to try the material wherever your imagination takes you. Although you will hear commentaries on various pieces, which will help your understanding, you are encouraged to have fun with your presentation, send what you have done to your friends and family…even gift your efforts to friends and love interests.

Contact: Mel Shapiro, distinguished professor emeritus of theater UCLA, mshapiro@tft.ucla.edu

Meet the Team

Mel Shapiro

Mel Shapiro is professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. During his tenure at UCLA TFT, he served as a distinguished professor of Theater. Prior to his time at UCLA TFT, he was one of the founders of NYU’s Theater Program (Tisch School) and was the head of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University. For the last several years, he has been an advisor for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater program.

On Broadway, he directed the Tony Award and NY Drama Critics Award-winning musical Two Gentlemen of Verona, John Guare’s Bosoms and Neglect and Stop the World — I Want to Get offstarring Sammy Davis, Jr. He directed the off-Broaday productions of Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves (named best American play by the NY Drama Critics), Vaclev Havel’s The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (Obie Award, best foreign play) and five productions for Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. He has also directed in London and in various regional theaters such as the Tyrone Guthrie in Minneapolis, the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Center Theatre Group Los Angeles, and the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

Shapiro has received Tony, Obie, New York Drama Critics, Drama Desk and Drama-Logue awards. He is the author of An Actor Performsand The Director’s Companion.

Robert N. Watson

Robert N. Watson is Distinguished Professor of English. He received his degrees from Yale and Stanford, and was a professor at Harvard before moving to UCLA, where he has served as Chair of the Faculty of Letters and Science, Vice-Provost for Educational Innovation, and Neikirk Chair for Innovative Undergraduate Education. He has won UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Gold Shield Faculty Prize. He has published multiple prize-winning scholarly books, editions, and articles, on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and environmentalism, and his poetry has appeared in The New Yorker and dozens of other literary journals. He has been awarded Guggenheim, NEH, and ACLS fellowships, spent a year as a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and this fall was the Fowler Hamilton Fellow at Christ Church College, Oxford.