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A Shakespeare’s Globe / BFI production

Music by Stephen Warbeck, Jules Maxwell, Olly Fox, Alex Baranowski, Sophie Cotton

The earliest known Shakespeare films

The seven films in this unique collection – from Britain, Italy and the USA – are created from the only known surviving materials, nitrate prints preserved by the BFI's National Archive. They include beautiful examples of hand stencilling and tinted prints. There is a magical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream containing some remarkable special effects, a charming five-minute film of The Tempest, and the very first Shakespeare film ever made, King John, in 1899. This unique and fascinating record shows us the exuberance, invention and conviction of these early filmmakers and demonstrates the possibility of the Shakespearean text.

Play On! Was screened at BFI Southbank in 2016, accompanied by a live ensemble, playing the newly composed score.