Ethan Hawke hosts Shakespeare Uncovered tonight on PBS

Tonight, Ethan Hawke researches William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" character in an hour long episode, the first of six to run Friday evenings on PBS over the coming weeks.

Ethan Hawke has some Shakespearean experience of his own. He was Hamlet in a very modern version of the film and he began his career in the Oscar winning film "Dead Poets Society". Before Hawke finished college he was starring in theater and film. Some literature students have argued that a number of Hawke's roles are similar to Shakespeare's "Hamlet". In "Training Day" and "Brooklyn's Finest" for example, Hawke's character overthrows paternal figures in the attempt to restore or establish dignity and honor in society or the character's personal life. And often Hawke's characters are unconcerned with righteousness or morality in the effort to pursue a perceived sense of justice.

With Hawke's history and his choice of characters in mind, Hawke's "Shakespeare Uncovered" episode may be the "coolest" lesson of all. Each episode of "Shakespeare Imcovered". like an "American Experience" docudrama, informs and educates. Joely Richardson researches cross dressing in "As You Like It " and "Twelfth Night". In Shakespeare's era, boys dressed om women's clothing was likely regarded as acting and not much more because women were not allowed on stage, During periods of war and peace in England, post Shakespeare, a number of British women disguised themselves as men and joined the military simply for the pay. In those two comedies, female characters disguise themselves as men and dupe friends, family and strangers.

Joely Richardson's expedition airs tonight after Hawke's "Macbeth." Next Friday, Feb 1, "Shakespeare Uncovered" captures the historical plays "Richard II: and "Henry the IV: and V". February 8, "Hamlet" and "The Tempest." Derek Jacobi tackles Richard II, the story of England’s deposed, duped, jailed and murdered King.

Richard II precedes Henry IV and V, two more historical dramas covered by Jeremy Irons. Irons contrasts the real story of Henry IV and V with Shakespeare’s drama. PBS casts the two Henry plays as “The Hollow Crown” and Irons, whose film career is epic and legendary, starred in dramas on Queen Elizabeth, the reigning royalty who presided over England and reshaped England’s history alongside Shakespeare’s live performances at The Globe.

New York Times reviewer Neil Genzlinger doesn't give big nods to Ethan Hawke's performance tonight, but assures readers that the most entertaining episode airs when Shakespearean actor David Tennant covers "Hamlet". Genzingler notes Tennant's comedic, perhaps sardonic, approach to Hamlet's character.

phiotocredit: Ethan Hawke wikipedia