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The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy on Screen

Harriet Walter leads an all-female cast in these three productions of Julius Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest, all set in a women's prison.

In 2012, Phyllida Lloyd’s production of Julius Caesar at the Donmar depicted the catastrophic consequences of a political leader's extension of powers beyond the remit of the constitution. With a cast drawn partly from ex-offenders, it stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and posed the question ‘Who owns Shakespeare?’

Two years later, Walter and Lloyd were reunited in Shakespeare’s monumental history play, Henry IV. This performance travels to the heart of family, duty and country, asking ‘What makes a king? What makes a father?’

The Tempest completed this all-female trilogy in 2016 with its tale of the eternal struggle for freedom, morality and justice.

"One of the most important theatrical events of the past twenty years." The Observer


Julius Caesar production image
Henry IV production image
The Tempest production image


Inspiration

The prison characters in the play are inspired by real-life women who have experienced the criminal justice system.


Recognition

Julius Caesar was selected for the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017 and nominated for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film.


Filming

The three plays were filmed at Donmar King's Cross, in a co-production between the Donmar Warehouse and Illuminations. A new model of filming was devised, which involved shooting all three plays on two separate days – one day with eight cameras on one side, the other with the cameras on the opposite side. The resulting footage was edited together over several months, together with material from GoPro cameras.


Educational Resources

The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy on Screen collection also includes a wealth of educational resources to help teachers explore the productions in depth:

  • 140 PDFs offering activities and exercises introducing the plays and exploring a range of themes such as relationships, gender, patriarchy, leadership and forgiveness, as well as script extracts for close study of the text
  • 40 short videos introducing the plays, the productions, actors and creative team offering unique insights into the ideas and craft that lie behind and within each film