About this project
"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.
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: