What is the Sonnet Project?
Good question. The Sonnet Project is a completely crazy idea dreamed up by Ross Williams from NY Shakespeare Exchange. 154 sonnets, 154 NYC locations, 154 actors. It’s a tapestry of cinematic art that infuses the poetry of William Shakespeare into the poetry of New York City. It’s huge, it’s visceral and it’s right here.
What we started with…
We began this project as a continuation of our mission – getting new audiences to like Shakespeare. With The Sonnet Project, we are trying to begin a conversation with Shakespeare the playwright, not Shakespeare the icon. Shakespeare was an artist, and like all artists he was trying to find his voice. He’s no good to us on a pedestal. If we can demystify his work and connect it to our own culture, then we can really get into the heart of what Shakespeare can reveal to us, and about us.
After raising almost $50,000 in a Kickstarter campaign we embarked on a journey – to film all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each performed by a different actor in a carefully chosen New York City location. It began as project with a deadline – by Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (April 23rd 2014) all 154 sonnets would be assigned, filmed and released on our website and YouTube.
… What it’s become.
The Sonnet Project very quickly blossomed into something more. It became apparent that each sonnet was not simply a ‘video’ – not simply an actor standing at a monument reciting a sonnet – but a short independent film. Every single sonnet required time and effort beyond our imagining. But the finished product! Each one is expansive, narrative – a work of art.
We decided to focus on the journey rather than the destination – the Project will not be finished by April. But that’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok because the Project has exploded into a sprawling, barely controllable, ever-growing, ever-changing tribute to Shakespeare’s art, New York City, and the artists that live here. And we love it.
Take a look!
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