As It Happens

As it Happened: The Archive Edition - The Shakespeare Episode

A Trump-themed 'Julius Caesar' production sparks furor; a South African performance of 'Othello' features a black actor for the first time; the star of 'Deep Throat' explains how he transitioned from doing Shakespeare to doing porn, and more...

Et tu, Covfefe? — 50 years of Shakespeare through the eyes of AIH

(John D. McHugh/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players.- As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

In true Shakespearean fashion,  As It Happens has been exploring the ever-fascinating global stage — and speaking to the men and women in it — for 50 years.

And throughout our 50-year run, we've covered many stories featuring England's most cherished bard. This episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition revisits some of our favourite Shakespeare-themed segments. 

Full-length versions of each of the interviews as they originally aired, plus archival images, are listed below.


Et tu, CovfefeIn which a Trump-themed performance of Julius Caesar proceeds on-script, with the expected collusion — until a lady who doth protest too much awkwardly inserts herself into the action. Sad!

(Brian R. Smith/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)


A round unvarnished tale. Nearly 400 years after Shakespeare penned The Tragedy of Othello, John Kani becomes the first black actor to portray the Moorish prince, in apartheid South Africa.

John Kani, right, with fellow actors Joanna Weinberg, and Richard Haines, during a performance of Othello at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, in 1987. (Ruphin Coudyzer/Associated Press)


Double, double, toil and trouble. The lead actor in a performance of "That Scottish Play" scoffs at the superstitious shadow cast over the show — until a series of pre-production mishaps leaves him thinking MacBether of it. 

A drawing of Macbeth murdering King Duncan by Robert Dudley. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Much ado about nothing on. When the council of Hackney, England threatens to outlaw striptease in pubs, one local entrepeneur aims to skirt the by-law by engaging in explicit acts of thespianism

A striptease artist performing at the Raymond Revuebar in London. (John Pratt/Getty Images)


Harry Reems shot to illustrious fame in films like Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones — but not before boning up on the works of England's most cunning linguist. 

Harry Reems rehearses for his return to theatre in an Off-Broadway comedy-drama, "The Office Murders," in New York, 1979. (Ron Frehm/The Associated Press)


The original players of the Reduced Shakespeare Company make haste attempting to break a world record for the shortest performance of Hamlet, over the phone.

Members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. (Daniel Coston)

Listen to the full episode audio at the top of this post. 

Written and produced by Kevin Ball.