Shakespeare Republic

“… a sophisticated twenty-first century series with its own particularly Australian flavour.” – The Shakespeare Blog, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK


From Hamlet in a bathtub to Juliet as one half of a same sex couple, Shakespeare Republic is a collective of Australian-based actors who have come together to celebrate Shakespeare, his works and his enduring legacy, through sharing their interpretation of his words and thoughts, via settings and circumstances that are familiar to a 21st Century audience.

A web series with performances from Michala Banas (Always Greener), Alan Fletcher (Neighbours), Ben Steel (Home & Away), Sally McLean (Utopia), Rowena Hutson (Strong Female Character) and Billy Smedley (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) this is deliberately Shakespeare with a difference!

Using some of Shakespeare's most famous monologues and sonnets, each episode is a stand-alone 'snapshot' of a piece of modern life - be it social, political, emotional or ... otherwise. Each piece stands as an individual 'moment in time' that highlights how Shakespeare (and his fellow Elizabethan playwrights) were talking about issues and ideas that we are still debating and experiencing today.

The takeaway? Shakespeare speaks to us now just as strongly as he did 400 years ago when he first put quill to parchment.

Shakespeare Republic - all the world's a stage ...

See the full series of six films here:


“Shakespeare Things To Do This Week #7 Watch Neighbours actor Alan Fletcher as Macbeth in this Shakespeare Republic video.” – Shakespeare Magazine (UK)

“This should be in EVERY classroom!” – KIN Collective (Australia)

“This short, directed by Sally McLean, gives an old speech a thoroughly fresh and modern take.” - RJ Evans, (UK)

“Loved it! Dynamic performance and thank you Shakespeare Republic for revitalising Shakespeare into contemporary society!” – Maree Shefford (Australia)

“Brava, Sally McLean!!! Bravo, Shakespeare Republic!!! These pieces made me remember why I enjoyed studying the Bard!!! Well done!” – Jeanne (USA)

“Not only real, but current and alive. Old W.S. would appreciate the social media use. Gr8 way to experience W.S. More of this please.” – Kurt Ovard (USA)

“Its a shame this wasn’t around when I had to study Shakespeare in school.” – Dannie Plant (Australia)

“I have to say the complete team of Shakespeare Republic made a great job. I learned to have a different look on Shakespeare in the last weeks!” – Berit (Germany)

  • Sally McLean
    Brigit & Benny (a modern faerietale), fixNATION
  • William Shakespeare
  • Sally McLean
    Why Must The Show Go On?
  • Sally McLean
    A Little Rain Must Fall
  • Perri Cummings
  • Billy Smedley
  • Michala Banas
    Key Cast
    Upper Middle Bogan, Nowhere Boys
  • Alan Fletcher
    Key Cast
  • Rowena Hutson
    Key Cast
    Strong Female Character
  • Sally McLean
    Key Cast
    Utopia, Jack Irish
  • Billy Smedley
    Key Cast
    Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
  • Ben Steel
    Key Cast
    Home & Away
  • Shaun Herbertson
    Directors of Photography
  • James Dene
    Directors of Photography
  • Yanni Dellaportas
    Directors of Photography
  • Dan Evans
  • Tim McCormick
    Sound Recordist/Sound Editor
  • Sally McLean
  • Project Type:
    Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Drama, Comedy
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Official Launch Screening
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    August 18, 2015
  • Peak City International Film Festival
    North Carolina, USA
    April 2, 2016
    WINNER: Best Mobisode or Web Short (Sally McLean as "Billie")
  • 12 Months Film Festival
    April 2, 2016
    WINNER: Best Web Series
  • Los Angeles Cine Fest
    Los Angeles, USA
    April 25, 2016
    WINNER: Best Web/New Media
  • Indiepossible International Film Festival
    Rhode Island, USA
    May 7, 2016
    WINNER: Best Picture (Best Web Series), Best Actor (Ben Steel), Best Director (Sally McLean) & Best Cinematography (Shaun Herbertson)
  • Roma CinemaDOC
    Rome, Italy
    November 4, 2015
    Nominated: Best International Web Series
  • Garden City International Film Festival
    Bangalore, Karnataka, India
    January 12, 2016
    Nominated: Best Web Series
  • DigitalMation Awards
    January 30, 2016
    Nominated: Best Web Series
  • International Online Web Fest
    London, England, UK
    February 19, 2016
    Nominated: Best Actor (Ben Steel)
  • Sydney World Film Festival
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    March 24, 2016
    Nominated: Best Australian Cinema Now
  • Melbourne Queer Film Festival
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    April 5, 2016
    Nominated: Best Australian Short (Ben Steel as "Juliet")
  • Unrestricted View Film Festival
    London, UK
    April 25, 2016
    Official Selection
  • Birmingham Underground FilmFest
    United States
    May 29, 2016
    Official Selection
  • Cameroon Underground FilmFest
    May 29, 2016
    Official Selection
  • Near Nazareth Festival

    May 31, 2016
    Nominated: Best Web Series
  • Largo Film Awards

    June 1, 2016
    Nominated: Best Web Series
  • River Film Festival
    June 9, 2016
    Official Selection
  • Melbourne Web Fest
    June 30, 2016
Director Biography - Sally McLean

A graduate of The Actors Institute, London, with further studies undertaken with Howard Fine, David Coury and faculty at HFAS Australia, Sally McLean has played roles in over thirty UK and Australian theatre productions, including <i>Flame Trees, Uncle Vanya, The Auxiliary, Chasing Pegasus (a play in ten chords), The Clairvoyant, P.S I Love You</i>, the Australian Premier of <i>I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change</i> and the World Premier of <i>Annabel’s Requiem</i> on the West End.

She has also played Shakespeare in both Australia and the UK, playing roles in <i>Macbeth</i> and <i>Hamlet</i> in the UK before performing for three seasons with the Australian Shakespeare Company in their critically acclaimed productions of <i>Comedy of Errors</i> and <i>Romeo & Juliet</i>.

Sally has additionally appeared in various lead and guest roles on numerous UK and Australian television series including <i>Utopia, Lowdown, Elephant Princess, Flying Doctors, Totally Full Frontal, Blue Heelers, Tonight Live, Bingles, Comedy Inc.</i> and the BBC mini-series <i>Bootleg</i>. Film credits include <i>Raymond Taylor’s Earnest Adventure In Love, V for Vienetta, Evie Wants A Baby</i> and <i>Why Must The Show Go On?</i> (playing Lady Macbeth), amongst others.

Her work behind the camera began with the BBC as a member of the Books & Special Projects Unit in BBC Music & Arts. This led to her writing and producing her first film <i>A Little Rain Must Fall</i> in London in late 1996 in the UK, and to her forming production business Incognita Enterprises under the Honorary Patronage of Sir Nigel Hawthorne – an association that continued until his passing in 2001.

Since then, Sally has written and produced numerous short films and theatrical productions, and is currently writer/director/producer for her first feature-length documentary, due for release in 2016.   Other industry activities include serving as an official Jury member in both acting and screen craft categories for the AFI Awards, AACTA Awards and ATOM Awards since 2010.

Sally continues to work in Australian theatre, film and television as an actor as well as developing several projects for both the big and small screen as writer and producer.

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Director Statement

Why Shakespeare?

Shakespeare Republic was a passion project for me from the moment I thought of doing it (about a decade ago) and stemmed from my ongoing love affair with all things historical, dramatic and particularly Elizabethan.

From my time spent at drama school in London to my thesis on Elizabethan Theatre (for which I also spent time watching the building of the new Globe Theatre on Southbank, spending time inside it’s walls as history was recreated around me), to my time being mentored by Sir Nigel Hawthorne until his passing in 2001, my work in production with the BBC Music & Arts Department and then my work with the Australian Shakespeare Company over three seasons, I have spent the better part of my adult life discussing, performing and celebrating the Bard.

And the one thing that used to sadden me were people, including my fellow actors, saying that they wouldn't "do" Shakespeare because he was either "too hard", "completely foreign" or "just not relevant anymore". I found this heartbreaking, but understandable. Until I had landed in drama school in London, I too was one of those actors who just thought Shakespeare "wasn't for me". I'd played Shakespeare pieces before, but never really got it. After a year with a brilliant Shakespeare teacher, Phil Peacock, and the chance to immerse myself in the world Shakespeare lived in - that all changed. I was a convert.

So, like all good converts, I began to wonder how I could make Shakespeare more accessible. Then along came the medium of the web series and voila! Shakespeare Republic was finally born. Bite-sized chunks of Shakespeare for people to try out and see if they like it. No more than 5 minutes of invested time to see if Shakespeare really is or isn't for you. All set in familiar, 21st Century settings, to help underline that what he wrote about 400 odd years ago is still happening now - albeit with the aid of computers, smart phones, surveillance technology and other gizmos we have invented in the years between.

An additional delight was my fabulous cast who came to the project with a range of experience playing Shakespeare - from Shakespeare veterans, to never having played him before. Two of our cast make their Shakespeare debut with this series - and I am so grateful they agreed to take this sometimes overwhelming step with me. It was challenging, it was sometimes daunting, it was crazy hours with minimal sleep, but most importantly, it was fun. So much fun.

So much so, that we're already working on Season Two!

Shakespeare Republic is Shakespeare by the people for the people and I think proves correct one of his most famous sayings: “All the world’s a stage …”

Indeed, especially in this modern age, it is.

Sally McLean
Shakespeare Republic