Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 17, 2012.

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Shakespeare, only better.

"This young company is not just promising: It’s delivering." TimeOutNY

NEW YORK, NY - #SaveTheSonnets!

Pledge now and we'll create a year-long video and theater project in which 154 great actors will perform 154 of the Bard's love poems at 154 iconic New York City locations.

We've got all kinds of great performers signed on, with more joining us as  word gets around about The Sonnet Project. Your pledge pays for video editing and studio production costs, distribution and a campaign to get the anthology into classrooms.

Can you imagine how accessible Shakespeare would have sounded in 10th grade if you heard his words spoken by Patrick Page, now starring as Green Goblin in Broadways' Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.

Yeah. We think so, too.

Patrick's signed on, and so has Paige Davis from Trading Spaces. We've got Lynn Cohen, who you know as Magda from Sex and the City, Michael Urie from TV's Ugly Betty, Julie Halston, who's in Anything Goes on Broadway, and so many more... Ronald Cohen. Virginia Sommer. Leigh Williams. Vince Gatton, who you can watch now in our video. Zac Hoogendyk. Kevin Brewer, who wrote Island.

Your pledge also lets us produce a full production of Island, the way Kevin envisioned it. Pledge $100 and you'll get two tickets for the fall performance of your choice, and we'll list you as a sponsor on the program.

All our rewards include unprecedented access to our cast and creative team and royal treatment at our performances.  Check out the projects below!

The Sonnet Project is a year-long internet-based, video exploration of Shakespeare’s great love poems.  We will film all 154 sonnets, performed by 154 different actors in 154 unique locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City. 

Then, beginning at the Bard’s 449th birthday party we will begin to release the videos, three per week, for one full year.  The culmination of the project, on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, will be marked by the release of a full Sonnet Project Anthology, complete with special features exploring the textual nuances of the language, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the creators and actors.  

Throughout the release year, we will work with web designers to create an interactive Sonnet Project website that will be available for educators and Shakespeare-lovers of all ages.  We will develop a Sonnet Project mobile app for the delivery of each new sonnet video, and to provide access to text analysis and information about the NYC film locations.  We will create sonnet-based walking tours of NYC neighborhoods, and develop sonnet scavenger hunts making use of QR codes and mobile technology. 

The year will also be peppered with sonnet-based events that will bring together theater artists for explorations of the poetry through varying artistic aesthetics.  By developing this intensive program, we plan to open up these nuggets of beauty to a global audience.  Basing the program in NYC brings the language to bear in a contemporary, urban setting and shines a light on the language in a way that is accessible for today’s audiences. 

Also, because the sonnets are short and easily digested, they provide an opportunity for audiences to experience Shakespeare on a day-to-day basis.  In this way, we hope to embed Shakespeare into the daily lives of people across the globe. 

Our goal is to reach an audience of 1,000,000 by Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

Why is NY Shakespeare Exchange following up its hugely successful production of The Life and Death of King John with a play by a contemporary playwright?  Because, Kevin Brewer’s Island, or To Be or Not to Be is the perfect distillation of our mission of bringing Shakespearean theater into the contemporary consciousness in new and exciting ways.  Brewer’s play is hardly a departure from Shakespeare’s language; in fact, it is in many ways an extension of it.
 
When Brewer got the idea to write a new play completely entrenched in the Shakespearean form, he knew that he needed to start with the source material.  So he began reading everything Shakespeare ever wrote.  And he read it all more than ten times through.  As he read, he began to make note of the common themes, character types, plot devices, rhetorical structures, and poetic turns of phrases. He also began a running list of phrases and quotes that made the hair on his arms stand up.  All the while, he was also formulating his own original plotline and developing the relationships of his characters.
 
What emerged, after 6-plus years of writing, and rewriting, is a glorious five-act “Shakespearean” comedy for today’s audiences.  Brewer’s own iambic pentameter is inter-laced with more than 300 quotes from the bard himself that create an exquisite counterpoint to the contemporary language.  Think of it as a gateway drug for Shakespeare.
 
PLOT SYNOPSIS
When a ferocious tempest shipwrecks two girls from 21st century America onto an island inhabited entirely by Shakespeare’s greatest tropes and archetypes, a hilarious clash of cultures ensues. An enchanted island; an ineffectual king and his usurping younger brother; a band of bumbling constables; a lovelorn, melancholy prince; a shipwrecked, cross-dressing lover in search of her twin; and plenty of other Shakespearean familiars come face-to-face with modern sensibilities as the mayhem of Kevin Brewer’s classically-entrenched psyche comes to gut-busting comedic life.

A little taste of Kevin's fantastic play! Help us make sure that audience get to see it.

YOU COMPLEAT ME

You can be a producer! Or cast an actor in The Sonnet Project!

Here's the actor-submitted video for the $15 You Compleat Me! award for May 16-17, with our friend Madeline Fendrick. Love her performance? Donate $15 or more and she could be guaranteed a role in The Sonnet Project:

____________________________________________________

www.ShakespeareExchange.org 

 

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    33 backers

    The ShakesBump. As in, we’ll greet you with an enthusiastic “Huzzah!” and a chest-bump when we run into you on the street or at one of our events. (Chest-bump totally optional.)

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    The ShakesSlam. We won’t “Huzzah” you: We’ll insult you! In fine Shakespearean fashion, no less. Will you be a “Bulls-pizzle” or an “Odiferous rampallian ratsbane”? Get your own Shakespeare-coined epithet from people who know how to use ‘em.

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    You Compleat Me! 14 passionate actors submitted videos they produced of their performances. We're featuring a different video every 48 hours here on our Kickstarter blog. Pledge in this category and on May 18 we'll send you an email ballot so you can back your favorite actor. And all of the actors who get at least $2,000 in pledges will be featured in full on our NYSX.org website when the campaign concludes, and in a special mailing to our many fans. The actor whose performance raises the most pledges will be guaranteed a spot in The Sonnet Project. Help us choose! As an extra bonus, pledge $25 or more and at the end of the campaign we'll let you select a reward equal to your pledge amount. ie, pledge $125 and Adopt-a-Sonnet!

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    Sonnet Project Anthology. At the conclusion of the Sonnet Project in 2014, you’ll get a copy of all 154 short films along with some very cool, exclusive special features. (Format TBD – in the “brave new world” of 2014, it may be a download or blu-ray or DVD or some other strange creature we’ve not seen yet! But it’ll all be there in one place for you to enjoy.)

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    NEW! Sweeter than perfume. Gift your favorite teacher a lesson. Sonnet Project creator Ross Williams will join the English class (or book club!) of your choice via Skype for a lively 45-minute dialogue, at a mutually agreed upon time in 2013. To kick off the convo, you'll get a Sonnet Project CD featuring all 154 sonnets in 154 iconic NYC locations. Want to chat with Ross sooner? Pick a sonnet and he'll give you a sneak peak in 2012 of the work of your choosing.

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    NEW! Sweeter than perfume. Gift your favorite teacher a lesson. Sonnet Project creator Ross Williams will join the English class (or book club!) of your choice via Skype for a lively 45-minute dialogue, at a mutually agreed upon time in 2013. To kick off the convo, you'll get a Sonnet Project CD featuring all 154 sonnets in 154 iconic NYC locations. Want to chat with Ross sooner? Pick a sonnet and he'll give you a sneak peak in 2012 of the work of your choosing.

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    47 backers

    Sonnet Project Sneak Peak. We’ll leak the 2013 location of a Sonnet Project film shoot to you and a friend, so you can watch the magic happen at a New York City location. When the Project's complete you'll also get the full anthology with cool special features. Look carefully. You could even make the cut!

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    12 backers

    Skype-a-Sonnet. One of our brilliant NYSX actors will beam a “live” performance of the sonnet of your choice to the recipient of your choice via Skype, any time in 2012! Remember, there is nothing more romantic than a slightly pixilated rendition of the greatest poetry in the English language.

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    7 backers Limited (73 left of 80)

    Empire State AIDS Ride Special! NYSX founder Ross Williams decided to forge ahead with his ambitious theater project while on a 560-mile bicycle ride. Pledge $99 for two tickets to see the October 4 production of Island and stick around for a special after-party at the theater with Ross, Shane and the cast. Ponytails optional.

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    55 backers

    Lead us Unto the Breach! Two tickets to see our fall production of Island by Kevin Brewer, along with a credit in the program and on our website as a 2012 season sponsor. Tickets available for Sept. 27 through Oct. 14.

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    11 backers Limited (133 left of 144)

    Adopt-A-Sonnet. Give one of the 144 lesser-known sonnets a champion. Be its hero, and you’ll get your own special shout-out in our 2013 Sonnet Project film credits. Donors may select their sonnet in the order in which the donation is received, so don't delay!

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    Island Opening Night Gala on Sept. 27 in New York! Two tickets to the official Opening Night of Kevin Brewer’s Island; a credit in the program and on our website as a 2012 season sponsor; and attend the post-show reception with the cast and crew!

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    Island Opening Night Gala on Sept. 27 in New York! Two tickets to the official Opening Night of Kevin Brewer’s Island; a credit in the program and on our website as a 2012 season sponsor; and attend the post-show reception with the cast and crew!

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    Island Insider. Two tickets to an Island performance, then join the creative team afterwards to talk about the show; We'll also give you a credit in the program and on our website as a 2012 season sponsor

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    Royal Seating for two at Island. Tired of uncomfortable off-off-Broadway seats? Then find your inner Queen Elizabeth I and cozy up to Island on your own super-comfy throne. Enjoy the show from two deluxe front-row seats. (Want to feel even more special? Check out The Royal Treatment at the $275 level.) Only four seats available at each of the Sept. 25 to Oct. 14 performances, so tickets will be awarded in the order in which your donation is received.

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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    NEW! You loved Michael Urie as Marc St. James on TV's Ugly Betty and in his current starring role in Broadway's How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying as Bud Frump! Meet Michael Urie at a New York City location and be one of 10 - just 10! - guests in a very exclusive audience as he stars in one of our Sonnet Project videos. Date in 2012 and location to be announced.

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    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    NEW! You've loved her on TV's Home Made Simple and Trading Spaces and in Broadway appearances in Chicago and Boeing Boeing! Meet Paige Davis at a New York City location and be one of 10 - just 10! - guests in a very exclusive audience as she stars in one of our Sonnet Project videos. Date in 2012 and location to be announced.

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    3 backers

    The Sonnet-Gram. Astound your special someone. Impress your co-workers. Make your mom’s day. One of our insanely talented actors will give a command performance of one of Shakespeare’s 154 glorious sonnets at any location within New York City. Time and date in 2012 to be mutually agreed upon. Both male and female actors are ready, willing, and able to bring the poetry right into your home or office. (Longing gazes and full-on swooning available on request and subject to availability.)

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    NEW! Meet the dynamo behind the Great Voice you hear on radio, TV and as the telephone voice of the bank and the phone company! She's a real person! Voice Over pro Susan Berkley, the voice of AT&T and Citi and, as Susan Bezerkowitz, the former cast member of The Howard Stern Show, is taking on the Bard! Meet Susan at a New York City location and be one of 10 - just 10! - guests in a very exclusive audience as she stars in one of our Sonnet Project videos. Date in 2012 and location to be announced.

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    NEW! He's getting rave reviews with his current star turn as Green Goblin in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, on Broadway. Meet actor Patrick Page at a New York City location and be one of 10 - just 10! - guests in a very exclusive audience as he stars in one of our Sonnet Project videos. Date in 2012 and location to be announced.

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    NEW!!! Dana Snyder, the devious Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, will record a personalized voicemail message just for you. Available absolutely no place else on the planet!

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    NEW!!! Dana Snyder, the devious Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, will record a personalized voicemail message just for you. Available absolutely no place else on the planet!

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    -Shall we compare you to a summer’s day? -Then share with us some detail from your mind, -Some genesis poetic to obey, -And sonnet dedicate shall we unwind. -Our playwright residential’s quill shall dip -Into to the well of Shakespeare’s stylish ink -To bring forth lines with imagery shall drip, -And make you swoon when of these words you drink. -A gift of verse original and true -From forth our playwright’s mind for none but you.

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    Royal Treatment at Island. Enjoy two tickets for special deluxe “Royal Seating” cushioned front-row seats at a Sept. 25 to Oct. 14 performance of Island along with a thank you bouquet delivered during the curtain speech and the beverage of your choice delivered with a flourish at intermission.

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    Sonnet-Gram Deluxe. This is the already-amazing Sonnet-Gram, but with Bonus Features! Sonnet-Gram Deluxe includes a floral bouquet, a box of chocolates, and most importantly is available within 50 miles of NYC through December 2012! Time and place to be mutually agreed upon, male and female actors to choose from based on availability and all that, but we’ll go farther and bring more goodies than our regular Sonnet-Gram. And when we bring it, we BRING IT.

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    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    Executive Producer. Get involved – and get above-the-title credit on the Sonnet Project film of your choosing, just like Harvey Weinstein. Join us for the taping of your sonnet, and see your name up on the Silver Screen (or on your Iphone) in 2013. Executive Producers will choose their sonnets in the order their donations are received.

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    Complete Island Getaway. Kevin Brewer's Island is a dizzying mash-up of plots and characters from the entire Shakespeare canon -- but there's even more to the Island script than the audience ever sees. Brewer's footnotes are not only a treasure map to the sources for each reference from Shakespeare's works, they're a hilarious running commentary that amounts to a second comedy hiding in the margins! The Complete Island Getaway includes two tickets to a performance of the play, where you'll be presented with a fully annotated script and a deluxe edition of Shakespeare's Complete Works. After the curtain comes down, you'll get an experience the rest of the audience can only envy: the chance to chat with Kevin Brewer about the process of building the play.

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    NEW! Vince Gatton has agreed to offer a second ShakeScarf! Hand-crafted and made with love, gratitude -- and attitude. Vince, our King John from last season, will put himself at your service, making you a one-of-a-kind hand-knit scarf. You’ll be granted an audience with the erstwhile King, where you’ll consult on colors, materials, and designs; then he’ll make you a spectacular scarf you know you’ll love, a totally unique piece made only for you.

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    1 backer All gone!

    The ShakeScarf. Hand-crafted and made with love, gratitude -- and attitude. Vince Gatton, our King John from last season, will put himself at your service, making you a one-of-a-kind hand-knit scarf. You’ll be granted an audience with the erstwhile King, where you’ll consult on colors, materials, and designs; then he’ll make you a spectacular scarf you know you’ll love, a totally unique piece made only for you.

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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    The Golden Ticket. We’ll invite you and your class / book club / Brownie troop (limit 15) to attend a rehearsal of Island, where you’ll meet the cast and creative team, watch as the show is put together, do a little Q&A, and learn about all the hard work, fun, and inspiration that go into making theater happen. Fair warning: Bring your favorite kids and they might get hooked for life. (We were the kind of kids who would have loved this. Now look at us.)

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    1 backer All gone!

    Shakespearean Gumbo Fest. Once more unto the brunch! Or dinner. Or lunch. We’ll buy the groceries and prepare a down-home Louisiana Gumbo Fest for up to ten guests in your NYC-area home complete with delightful theater talk and Shakespeare performances. NYSX founder/Artistic Director Ross “Alabamy” Williams and Resident Dramaturg Shane “Ragin’ Cajun” Breaux know how to do two things reaaally well: gumbo and Shakespeare. Get ‘em both at the same time and you won’t be sorry. Available through December 2012. You provide the beverages.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Your Own Personally Curated Guerrilla Shakespeare event. In the spirit of our wildly successful ShakesBEER Pub Crawls, we'll create and manage an urban, mobile Shakespeare event in your honor. You provide the guest list of 50 of your smartest, fun-est, raucous-est friends, and we’ll throw you a party they won’t forget! All the fun and Shakespearian merriment of our ShakesBEER Pub Crawls, designed and performed exclusively for you in your favorite New York neighborhood. (Yes, that’s a big donation -- but think of all that Elizabethan face-slapping and drink-tossing you’ll see… and that’s just your friends! Wait ‘til WE get started…)

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Absolute Unadulterated Stardom. Join the ranks of NYC’s best classical actors when you star in one of our Sonnet Project videos. Artistic Director Ross Williams will work with you to develop your Shakespearean chops in three one-hour rehearsals, either in person in NYC or by Skype. Then, on the day of the shoot you will join the production team at a NYC location for an exciting afternoon of on-camera work. We'll send you the Sonnet Project Anthology at the culmination of the program in 2014. Date in 2013 to be mutually agreed upon. Coming in from out-of-town? You're responsible for your own travel, food and lodging costs.

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- (32 days)