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William Shakespeare Sonnets Recited And Filmed Throughout New York

To celebrate another of William Shakespeare’s “round dates” in 2014, NY Shakespeare Exchange has called on directors and actors to participate in a ground-breaking project. The Sonnet Project fuses urban settings of New York’s five boroughs with new technology and approach to film making and Shakespeare’s verse.
More from organisers:
Each sonnet video will be filmed in a unique location throughout the five boroughs of New York City, the birthplace of American cinema. From the iconic to the forgotten, we’ve chosen locations with deep cultural significance. In this way, we juxtapose the poetry of the city with the poetry of the Bard, and find a deep contemporary relevance for Shakespeare’s sometimes elusive language.
The project will span one full year, launching on Shakespeare’s 449th birthday and culminating on his 450th. Throughout the year we will release a new sonnet video every 2-3 days. The videos and all supporting materials will be available free of charge to anyone in any sector of the population and foster an unprecedented level of access to Shakespearean performance.
So, if you live in the U.S. or may be able to travel to America, grab yourself a sonnet (those untaken are currently in black) and move on to submitting a form.


  • The “starring roles” in each video are Shakespeare’s language, the specific NYC location, and the director’s interpretation.
  • Director is responsible for equipment needs.
  • New York Shakespeare Exchange will assign the sonnet location.
  • Each film should contain only one actor. A highly skilled classical actor from the files of NYSX will be cast based on each particular sonnet. Director requests for basic actor type (e.g., gender, age-range, etc.) will be taken into consideration when possible. Requests to work with a specific actor will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
  • An NYSX text coach will work with each actor on interpreting the language, and will be present “on set” to assist with rhetorical technique and clarity of Shakespearean thought. The text coach will also be available to the director for any textual analysis questions.
  • Video length must be 120 seconds or less.
  • Submitted footage must be fully edited and in an “audience ready” form. NY Shakespeare Exchange will provide logos and specifications for titles and credits.
  • The delivery format is 1080 HD 23.98P with sync sound.
  • Video must be delivered no later than April 30, 2013.*
A director may take on a secondary video, having submitted the first one. The deadline for the secondary video is July 31, 2013.
A submission form asks you to list the filming and editing software you intend to use, and whatever qualifications, links, and the names of collaborators you would like to share. If your application is successful, a formal Work for Hire Agreement will be signed between you as a director and the NY Shakespeare Exchange.
If you decide to participate, having read the information on Shakespeare in Translation, please kindly consider mentioning us as a source of information. Thanks!

The Yellow Lily of Summer

A friend of mine, painter Svetlana, sent me this photo from her home garden. This sun-brimming ‘portrait’ of a lily marks the beginning of summer and brought to mind this Shakespearean sonnet:

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft’ is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:

But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare, sonnet no. 18

Gavin Ewart – Shakespearean Sonnets

Michelle Puelo, Shakespeare In His Study

Back in 1976 and 1977, a celebrated British poet Gavin Ewart composed two sonnets in free verse, mentioning and contemplating William Shakespeare. In case you are unfamiliar with this name, here is what the 1989 edition of the International Authors and Writers Who’s Who tells us. Gavin Buchanan Ewart was born in on February 4, 1916 in London and received his BA and MA in Classics and English from the University of Cambridge. For a number of years he was the Chairman of the Poetry Society, and in 1984 became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died on October 26, 1995.

Tidying Up (1976) is distinct for its choice of words: the lyrical hero tells us that some thoughts just lay, reposed, in his mind, “awaiting collection”, for they are not of a kind to be uttered (and he explains what he means). Shakespeare, Ewart claims, “owes his power to them”. These thought may well be the product of the author’s psyche, but they should also ideally be informed by the author’s travels and perambulations. If, contrary to the advice in Shakespeare’s Universality (1977), the author fails to get out and about, he “gets stuck in his own psyche” and thus “bores everyone – and that includes himself”.

The illustration is somewhat Baconian Shakespeare In His Study by an American artist Michelle Buelo.

Tidying Up (1976)

Left lying about in my mind, awaitingn collection,
are the thoughts and phrases that are quite unsuitable
and often shocking to all Right-thinking people –
penetrated by a purple penis for example
(almost a line?); and how it’s almost certain,
for Swift’s hints, that the big sexy ladies of Brobdingnag
used Gulliver as an instrument of masturbation.
Hence a tongue-twister: Glumdalclitch’s clitoris.

Though not always decorous, there’s a lot of force in phrases.
A good many poems stem from them; they start something.
More than anything Shakespeare owes his power to them
(his secret, black and midnight hags and hundreds more),
they almost consoled him – though life is pretty bloody
(the multitudinous seas incarnadine).

Shakespeare’s Universality (1977)

In one sense Shakespeare’s ‘universality’ was accidental –
due to the fact that he wrote plays. When you have so many characters
you’re bound to have so many views of human life.
Nobody can say ‘Why are all your poems about moles?’
or tell you you’re very limited in your subject matter.
A playwright’s material (unless it is outrageously slanted)
usually deals with a group of opinions; people can never say
‘Of course this play is entirely autobiographical’.

It’s interesting that Shakespeare’s Sonnets, which are
(I think we can’t doubt) completely based on his life,
are by a long way his least satisfactory verse.
It’s better for a writer, in most cases, to go out and about.
If he gets stuck in his own psyche for too long
he bores everyone – and that includes himself.

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