The Hollow Crown: The Unmaking and Making of Kings—SOLD OUT

Hollow CrownThis seminar is sold out! Please email Pat Schoepfel to add your name to the wait list, or choose from one of our other seminars.

Too many think of Shakespeare’s “history” plays as history. This is a mistake. In truth, they are a setting for investigating human nature and raw power. His subjects are an infinite variety: metaphysical poet and incompetent King Richard II; dissolute and nascent great warrior king, Prince Hal; fat rogue, cowardly, lying, thieving, debauched, and perfect Sir John Falstaff; and England’s turbulent transformation from divine right rule through strongman authority to beloved charismatic king.

During our week together, we will read and discuss Richard II, Henry IV: Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Prior to the seminar, participants will view The Hollow Crown, a made-for-TV series based on the four plays. The videos will supplement our discussions of the scripts. No prior knowledge of Shakespeare or his plays is necessary. If you want to give the Bard a go, if you’ve not tasted the sweetness of his histories, this will be a safe and friendly environment in which to do so. If you’re a Shakespeare veteran, there will be plenty to engage your interest. I invite you to come and try on The Hollow Crown.

A special note from Gary:

The stars align! The Henriad cycle is the center piece of this year’s Stratford Festival Excursion, July 15-17. This is a rare opportunity to see the four plays produced as a unified whole. For details on how to attend the festival with the Toronto Pursuits group, see our Stratford excursion page.



“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”

Richard II, 3.2.160–161


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Gary Schoepfel is a lover of beers, novice hockey player, chess enthusiast, kayaker, former stage actor and director, reasonably good listener, husband of 40 years, faculty member at Harrison Middleton University, close reader, Classical Pursuits international traveller, and former VP of the Great Books Foundation.

Plays and TV Series
Participants are required to obtain the specified editions in order to facilitate the group’s ability to find and cite portions of the text during discussion.

Richard II, by William Shakespeare (Folger Shakespeare Library, Simon & Schuster, 2005)
ISBN-13: 978-0-743-48491-6

Henry IV, Part I (FSL, Simon & Schuster, 2005)
ISBN-13: 978-0-743-48504-3

Henry IV, Part 2 (FSL, Simon & Schuster, 2006)
ISBN-13: 978-0-743-48505-0

Henry V (FSL, Washington Square Press, 2004)
ISBN-13: 978-0-743-48487-9

The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series (Universal Studios, DVD release 2013)

The series is available for streaming and/or DVD purchase on Netflix,, and It may also be available at your library or video store.

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Toronto Pursuits 2016