Shakespeare's Sonnets to Screen
Shakespeare's Sonnets to Screen
Independent filmmaker, Jeff Monahan, will film all 154 of William Shakespeare's Sonnets this summer in the British Isles and Pittsburgh
Independent filmmaker, Jeff Monahan, will film all 154 of William Shakespeare's Sonnets this summer in the British Isles and Pittsburgh Read more
This summer, Claochlu, an independent filmmaking group will bring its own special treatment to the filming of William Shakespeare's sonnets. Each of the 154 sonnets will be performed by an actor, singer, musician, teacher or poet, whose performances will emphasize a particularly interesting feature of each of these intense little poems. We envision an international film with people of all backgrounds using Shakespeare's Sonnets to explore the interaction of voice, image, architecture, sound and emotion.
The funds we raise in our Kickstarter campaign will allow us to film in several international locations close to the 154 actors participating in “The Sonnets,” which is much more economical than bringing so many performers to us in Pittsburgh. But locations in Ireland, Great Britain, and the United States offer a tremendous variety of architecture, skylines, and natural light and settings to underscore the many moods found in the Sonnets. This will be a film designed to appeal to the eye, to the heart and to the mind.
We've been particularly happy to welcome the following wonderful group of actors to The Sonnets Project. Below you will see Lisa Harrow, Tom Atkins, Adam Pribila, Ben Crystal, and Laurence Ashley. These folks are all represented on our Project Blog, usually with more information and pictures. You should also know that we be continually adding more great performers to these lists, including people who are not professional performers, but who will make the sonnets sing with their own special voices.
We're extremely happy to announce that Lisa Harrow will be among the many people performing in The Sonnets Project. Lisa became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1969 and, in her first season, portrayed Olivia in Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most complex characters, to rave reviews. Other credits with the RSC include Desdemona in Othello, Anne Boleyn in Henry VIII and Portia in The Merchant of Venice. Many more critical successes have come her way on stage. Our Project blog lists more of them. She first appeared in film opposite Glenda Jackson in the Italian-made film The Devil is a Woman (1974), for which she was named the Variety Club's "Most Promising Newcomer." She went on to win numerous other awards in film and to triumph in TV with Shaw's Man and Superman, developed from the highly successful stage production of the same play starring Peter O'Toole, and to give a most memorable performance in the title role of the Masterpiece Theatre series, Nancy Astor, among many others. She and her husband, Dr. Roger Payne, founder and president of "Ocean Alliance" and an internationally recognized expert on whales, share environmental concerns, particularly in matters pertaining to the health of our oceans. Based on this, Lisa has written and performed SeaChange: Reversing the Tide, a performance piece that uses science and poetry to urge us all to make sustainable living our primary goal. Lisa and Roger also wrote and performed Lessons From Copernicus, a blend of art and science that vividly demonstrates how mankind has gone horribly wrong. In addition, Lisa is also the author of the environmental handbook, What Can I Do?, which has been published internationally. You might like Lisa’s video of the same title available here from YouTube.
After appearing in The Detective, which starred Frank Sinatra, Tom Atkins remarked, “Frank was great. He was very easy to work with. He didn't like to do a lot of takes. But then it's not like we were doing Shakespeare.” Now Tom is doing Shakespeare and we’re the lucky recipients of his work in The Sonnets Project.
Tom began acting at Duquesne University in his hometown of Pittsburgh and began his professional career on the New York stage; he received the 1973 Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Performer for his work in David Storey's The Changing Room. He also appeared on Broadway in The Front Page and off-Broadway in Whistle in the Dark and Long Day's Journey Into Night, and in regional theaters across America, including six seasons at Long Wharf in New Haven, CT, and ten summers at Williamstown (MA) Theatre Festival.
After many appearances in TV series and movies, often playing police detectives, Atkins began specializing in horror and science fiction genres and he has worked with all the masters. He starred in two films directed by John Carpenter: The Fog and Escape from New York. He then took the leading role, Dr. Dan Challis, in the sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and produced by John Carpenter. He did further work with George A. Romero, appearing in the Romero-Stephen King project, Creepshow (1982), in the anthology, Two Evil Eyes (1990), based upon tales by Edgar Allan Poe; and Bruiser (2000).
He may be best remembered as Detective Ray Cameron, the “thrill me” guy in the 1986 cult horror film Night of the Creeps, a role Atkins calls his very favorite. He tells Classic-Horror magazine “It was the most fun film I've ever worked on,” and you can see that in this video collage.
He has continued to act in both the thriller and police procedural genre, too. He is well known to moviegoers for his role as Michael Hunsaker in Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon (1987), with Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey. He also took a role in the action-thriller, Striking Distance (1993), alongside Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tom Sizemore. In television, Atkins played Lt. Alex Diehl in the 1970s television series The Rockford Files with James Garner. He reprised his role of Commander Diehl for a series of Rockford Files movies in the 1990s.
Atkins has made numerous guest appearances on many popular television shows, including M*A*S*H, Baretta, Harry O, The Fall Guy, Xena: Warrior Princess, Walker, Texas Ranger, Oz, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Nowadays, he is a frequent player in shows in the Pittsburgh theatre scene, most famously in the one-man show The Chief at Pittsburgh Public Theater, in which he depicted the late founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney. He was also the star of A Musical Christmas Carol at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, portraying the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. In 2009, he performed Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten.
In 2009, he had a supporting role as a retired sheriff in the remake My Bloody Valentine 3Dand co-starred with Nicolas Cage in Todd Farmer's Drive Angry, in 2011 and he is scheduled to have a lead role in Patrick Lussier's Halloween 3D.
We’re also very happy to be able to announce that Adam Pribila will be a part of The Sonnets Project. Most recently, he recreated the role of Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing for The Great Plains Theatre in Abilene, Kansas, a role he first played for the Winchester (VA) Little Theatre. Before that, he garnered excellent reviews as Randall McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for McKeesport Little Theatre in the greater Pittsburgh area. He was Giancarlo in Heads of State inThe Access Theatre in New York City, and Philip in The Lion in Winter at The Bleeker Street Theatre. In Washington, DC, he played Piper in Rock n Roll at The Studio Theatre, all of this and more since graduating cum laude from Shenandoah Conservatory. More information and pictures are available in our blog.
As our agreements are completed with each new actor, we will announce their names here, as well as in our Sonnets Blog where we'll be archiving the cast as well as a wealth of information about them and about Shakespeare's Sonnets.
While we hope you've enjoyed the experimental video we've attached for you here, we don't want to leave an impression that the sonnets will not be filmed separately and in their entirety. Each location will give a flavor to the sonnets shot there and each actor will be urged to find the emotional dimension of each sonnet they can best express in reading it. Additionally, each performer will be costumed in ways that work best with his or her take on the poem, and the architectural elements of our various venues will be incorporated to emphasize the poems' images.
But in addition to the images that the poems construct, a narrative is advanced in The Sonnets, as well.
The narrative of The Sonnets involves a complex love triangle that includes the speaker of the poems, as well as a fair young man to whom many of the earlier sonnets are addressed, and “The Dark Lady” who is the subject of most of the latter ones. Those relationships have been discussed many times, but less often noted are the gruesome deaths hinted at in the last two sonnets that take place at the mercury baths, which were used to cure syphilis. As William Butler Yeats observed, “Sex and death are the only things that can interest a serious mind,” and certainly Shakespeare’s mind was seldom more serious than in The Sonnets.
By filming The Sonnets one by one as Shakespeare published them in 1609, giving equal space and time to every new expression of the poet’s themes, adding music and powerful images both of architecture and the human form, 72nd St. Films/Claochlu Studios hopes to create a very new film experience in which the tools of modern cinematography help us access this dense emotional material from the past.
We are dedicated to making this film, and it will be completed, but our Kickstarter campaign can make it great. Our minimum goal of $25,000.00 will support our travel to the several shooting sites, which we might not otherwise able able to manage, even with many kindnesses already offered of free lodging and production help; it will guarantee that we will be able to complete the project on time and it will add measurably to viewers' pleasure. Money we hope to collect beyond our goal will allow us further to enhance production values by renting time inside special places, such as purchasing access to the interior of ancient churches and college gardens.
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