Join leading actors to perform Shakespeare's iconic speeches

Take part in our video series with The Guardian, Shakespeare Solos, where you can perform Shakespeare’s words alongside acting royalty

5 minute read

We may not be able to physically perform Shakespeare’s plays on our stages at this time, but we’re still invested in being creative and sharing Shakespeare’s words digitally across the world.

During this period of lockdown, as well as our Love in Isolation project where artists will be sharing their favourite pieces of Shakespeare from their places of sanctuary, we’re thrilled to be partnering with The Guardian on a relaunch of Shakespeare Solos.

Originally created in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Shakespeare Solos is a video series of leading actors performing some of Shakespeare’s greatest speeches. Now in 2020, we want to hear from you!

We invite you to join acting royalty in performing Shakespeare’s iconic words to create a new collaborative project of the playwright’s works in performance.

How can I take part?

1. Choose one of the three speeches below from As You Like It, Hamlet and The Tempest.

2. Film yourself performing the speech on your mobile or camera, making sure the video is recorded in landscape.

3. Send your finished video to [email protected] by 11.59pm on Friday 17 April, 2020.

4. We’ll then edit together our favourite videos with the professionals, to share across ours and The Guardian’s social media channels.

5. Follow us @The_Globe and @guardianstage, and keep your eye out for their release with #ShakespeareSolos.

As You Like It: All the world’s a stage

Zawe Ashton performs Jaques iconic Seven Ages of Man speech from Act II, scene 7 of As You Like It.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


Hamlet: To be, or not to be

Adrian Lester speaks Hamlet’s soliloquy from Act III, scene 1 of Hamlet, in which the prince reflects on mortality and considers taking his own life.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.


The Tempest: Our revels now are ended

David Threlfall delivers Prospero’s lines from The Tempest, Act IV, scene 1. As the play comes to its close, the sorcerer contemplates the end of life – and Shakespeare, perhaps, considers the end of his career.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.