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For a poet and playwright whose virtuosic way with words continues to dominate all of English literature four centuries on, there's an extraordinary and often overlooked potency also in his silences, stillness and quietness.

Laura Barton listens closely to the spaces between the Bard's words and explores the acoustic qualities of the circumstances in which they were performed. She talks with the actor Niamh Cusack, who's played Desdemona and Juliet in large theatres and, most recently, Paulina in The Winter's Tale at the intimate Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Acoustician Byron Harrison imagines the soundworld inhabited by actors on the Elizabethan stage and unpicks the science of theatre design. Shakespeare scholar Lesel Dawson reads the plays for moments of silent wonder, resistance, horror and narrative tension and Steven Connor considers how the celebrated wordsmith communicates 'beyond words' - looking with ears, hearing with eyes.

Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 3.

For a poet and playwright whose virtuosic way with words continues to dominate all of English literature four centuries on, there's an extraordinary and often overlooked potency also in his silences, stillness and quietness.

On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, Laura Barton listens closely to the spaces between the Bard's words and explores the acoustic qualities of the circumstances in which they were performed. She talks with the actor Niamh Cusack, who's played Desdemona and Juliet in large theatres and, most recently, Paulina in The Winter's Tale at the intimate Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Acoustician Byron Harrison imagines the soundworld inhabited by actors on the Elizabethan stage and unpicks the science of theatre design. Shakespeare scholar Lesel Dawson reads the plays for moments of silent wonder, resistance, horror and narrative tension and Steven Connor considers how the celebrated wordsmith communicates 'beyond words' - looking with ears, hearing with eyes.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 3.