Shakespeare For Today

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights


William Shakespeare is undoubtedly one of the greatest playwrights in history, and likely the best known. His work is still broadly studied and performed worldwide, more than four centuries after his death- so how has his work acquired a stereotype of being fusty, irrelevant and difficult to decipher?

Whether or not you are aware of it, Shakespeare’s work has cemented itself in the collective conscience of our society. For example, look at these common sayings and idioms: a foregone conclusion, a sea change, a sorry sight, dead as a doornail, all’s well that ends well, be all and end all, foul play, green eyed monster, hot-blooded, a charmed life, lie low, in a pickle, in stitches, I have not slept a wink, night owl, up in arms, woe is me, wild goose chase– the list goes on and on. What do these have in common? They were all originally coined by Shakespeare.

Perhaps one of the greatest errors in the study of his work is to concentrate solely upon the transcriptions of his plays: Shakespeare counted himself as a playwright, and thus his plays are designed to be performed to an audience as a visual medium, and not limited to the page. Given a performance of his work, the cadences of language and utilisation of techniques such as metaphor and iambic pentameter immediately become apparent to students, opening up the apparent barriers between our modern English and that of Shakespeare’s day. This allows students to better utilise their knowledge of the themes and motifs being explored within his work, rather than being bogged down by individual stanzas, without understanding the broader context of the act, or indeed the piece as a whole.

Indeed, perhaps the reason Shakespeare has been such an enduring influence upon our society is due to the commonality of the human experience that is explored within his work. Whether you are studying works as fanciful as the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream or the romance The Tempest, his histories or his tragedies, they are all rooted in the tribulations, the joys, the melancholy and the general experience of what it is to be human. Love, loss, revenge and political intrigue are all common threads within his work, and it is largely for this reason that Shakespeare has stood the test of time- think of any popular film, television series, book or popular culture phenomenon, past or present, and they will likely be grounded in at least one of these things. Shakespeare was considered a vastly accessible playwright in his time, with every class coming to view his work. To be accessible to so many, he had to tap into the commonality between them all.

Another common error in studying his work is to purely view Shakespeare’s work through our own 21st century lens, without consideration for the historical, social and political context in which he was writing in. The culmination of this is often a sense of isolation and irrelevance on the part of students, or a complete misrepresentation of the original themes, such as an overt attachment of colonialist overtones to The Tempest. Whilst the universality of his plays and the exploration of our current context is an important addition to any textual study, it is just as vitally important to hold in consideration the viewpoints and broader context that Shakespeare was writing in.

As has been established, it is a necessity to study Shakespeare using a range of methods and angles, in order to better consolidate our understanding and bring his work to life. Here at TV4Education, we have a vast collection of material to better assist with this. Be it the fantastic Shakespeare Uncovered series, that delves into the context that Shakespeare wrote the play in whilst also examining how it the work continues to evolve, its relevance in today’s society, and the different facets that are explored by different actors, productions and scholars; or Lenny Henry Finding Shakespeare, a witty, down-to-earth look at how Shakespeare was originally for everybody, how this has changed over time, and how to rectify this; or the numerous of productions of his work in our collection, from Richard II, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and many more.

Whilst close study of the written text is an important facet, viewing Shakespeare in action and accessing  a variety of perspectives through the medium of multimedia will prove to be an invaluable tool and addition to the classroom. The amalgamation of these learning techniques will foster an increased appreciation of Shakespeare’s work, something that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

Shakespeare Uncovered – Series

The Taming of The Shrew

Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare Animated – Series

Horrible Histories Special Sensational Shakespeare



Insults by Shakespeare

Relates to Australian Curriculum Codes;



Tips and Tricks, training, Uncategorized, Video Highlights

Subscribe to the TV4Education blog to receive the following straight to your inbox;

  • Newsletters
  • Posts from our CEO, Michael Fernandez
  • Video Highlights
  • Lesson Plans
  • Classroom activities
  • Training notifications
  • Educational TV Guide

You can also control how frequently you receive emails from us, want them weekly or monthly? No problem!

Subscribing is really easy.

  1. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the plus icon. follow1.jpg
  2. Enter your email into the follow field on the right and click “follow”. follow2


Popular Videos – what are other schools watching?

Video Highlights

Ever wondered what programs other schools in Australia are watching? Take a look at Mays most downloaded programs across Australia by clicking on the image below.


Ted-Ed Lessons a Ted Talks Initiative

Video Highlights

Did you know that you can find all your favourite Ted Talks in one place? TV4Education Plus now also off video lessons from the Ted-Ed Lesson range.

View them all HERE. Or take a look at a few of our favourites…


Shakespearean dating tips by Anthony John Peters

Beyond giving the world dozens of English language masterpieces and inventing countless words (including the word countless), William Shakespeare, ever the overachieving bard, especially had a way with the romantic turn of phrase. Anthony John Peters explains why Shakespeare’s coy use of metaphor was so effective — and may just help you get a date today.


Diagnosing a zombie: Brain and body by Tim Verstynen & Bradley Voytek

Zombies eat brains. They are also, like all of us, driven by brain functions. What is happening in their brains to make them act as they do? In this intriguing dialogue, Tim Verstynen & Bradley Voytek apply the various human medical possibilities that make zombies…zombies.


How tsunamis work by Alex Gendler.

The immense swell of a tsunami can grow up to 100 feet, hitting speeds over 500 mph — a treacherous combination for anyone or anything in its path. Alex Gendler details the causes of these towering terrors and explains how scientists are seeking to reduce their destruction in the future.

Celebrate 400 Years of Shakespeare

Newsletters, Video Highlights


William Shakespeare’s Othello is a timeless story about race, love, jealousy and betrayal.

As you like it

“All the world’s a stage And all the men and women merely players”.

All’s well that ends well

Helen’s got it bad for Bertram and she’ll do anything to get him (like cure the king of France’s gross skin disease for a chance to choose any husband she wants). The problem is that Bertram’s not into Helen. At all.

Loves Labour Lost

Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live register’d upon our brazen tombs
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
The endeavour of this present breath may buy
That honour which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge,
And make us heirs of all eternity.