EXCLUSIVE: The Family Shakespeare is the second project lined up by former eOne exec Patrice Théroux since leaving the company last fall. He and his executive producing partners now have set Oscar nominee Shane Connaughton (My Left Foot) to script the six-part miniseries that focuses on the Bard’s adult life and his constant struggle between family life in Stratford and a flourishing professional career in London.
Théroux is exec producing with Leif and Agnes Bristow (The Red Dress) as well as John Rhys-Davies of the Lord Of The Rings and Indiana Jones movies. It’s early days on the project, which is in development and adding to its production team.
Connaughton, who works across film, TV, theater and novels, calls The Family Shakespeare “the most exciting project I have ever touched. By all accounts, Shakespeare was an ordinary man, yet there was nothing ordinary about him. Genius may be impossible to explain, but we can always look to where it came from, and that’s what this miniseries will do for audiences.”
The story follows William Shakespeare as he moves from Stratford-upon-Avon to London in 1585 and is plunged into the exciting, sometimes vicious world of the city, including the court of King James. The Southbank is home to the theater, brothels, bear-baiting pits and surrounded by the skullduggery of both the upper and lower classes. Here Essex and Southampton, Shakespeare’s benefactors, plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth. It is a difficult balance and parallels the struggles being faced in Stratford, where the Catholic religion is outlawed, theater is banned, and the Puritans have taken over. Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, narrowly escapes the wrath of Stratford for amassing and storing crops as she independently creates wealth to support her husband’s rise to prominence. His only son, Hamlet, dies at age 11. Despite these challenges, Shakespeare remains firmly rooted in both worlds and becomes one of the most important writers of the modern age.
“It is rare when a writer can so elegantly reach into the depth of human emotion and experience,” Théroux and Bristow say. “Shane Connaughton has demonstrated this unique capacity with his writing. We are thrilled to work with him as we … strive to bring the power of the period, together with the emotion and the fabric of the world’s greatest writer to the screen.”
Théroux left as head of eOne’s global film division last fall and recently boarded his first project since leaving, comic adaptation ReincarNATE, which is being made into a one-hour supernatural crime drama.