Play Sonnet 127

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name;
But now is black beauty’s successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on Nature’s power,
Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress’ eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland’ring creation with a false esteem:
     Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
     That every tongue says beauty should look so.



In Sonnet 127 the speaker finds himself attracted to an unconventional woman, and explains why.

Wills thinks that in the past, dark-toned women were not considered beautiful, but now the tables have turned and it is the fair-complexioned that is out of favor. With the rise of cosmetics, beauty is in everyone’s grasp, the ugly can be made artificially beautiful, and no one can any longer claim natural beauty. So Will’s lover’s dark eyes are currently in fashion, and look sad at the falseness beauty has taken on, and sad for those deemed ugly by comparison.


Scholar’s Corner

John Kerrigan examines the rhyme schemes in the sonnets very closely and clearly makes that the point that even though we now pronounce words differently from 400 years ago, we are not clueless as to how the words were pronounced. After Kerrigan examines what he names “the internal and external evidence available to us,” he concludes that the imperfect rhymes may in fact be more imperfect today than there were 400 years ago, but there is no real harm in reading the sonnets with a modern accent. Kerrigan finds the lack of scholarly work done about the meter of the sonnets to be “unfortunate given the incredible richness of the metrical patterns in the sonnets. The sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, a line consisting of five metrical feet, each foot containing two syllables, the first unstressed and the second stressed. In practice, good verse written in iambic pentameter contains variations in this basic pattern. Instead of the usual foot, some feet may instead contain a trochee (stressed followed by unstressed), a spondee (two stressed), or a pyrrhic (two unstressed).”[1]



1. Kerrigan, John. The Sonnets ; And, A Lover’s Complaint. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Viking, 1986. Print.


Harlem Fire Watchtower, Marcus Garvey Park, Manhattan

“A prominent feature of Marcus Garvey Park and its neighborhood, the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower serves as an important community landmark. In the 19th century efforts to contain fire in New York City included the construction of an extensive reservoir system and the Croton Aqueduct, as well as the placement of round-the-clock watchmen at strategic vantage points. These men directed fire companies through an alarm code, corresponding to the severity of the fire and to numbered districts, transmitted by bells, flags and lanterns. City Hall, constructed in 1812 with a bell in its cupola, became the city’s first and main alarm. After a devastating fire in 1835 the Fire Department built dedicated towers across the city.

Ironically, these early structures were made of wood, and fire consumed several of them. Fortunately, fireproof construction became possible in the late 1840s when inventor James Bogardus perfected the use of cast-iron as a structural material. The Board of Aldermen commissioned Bogardus to erect the world’s first cast-iron fire watchtower in 1851 on Ninth Avenue at West 33rd Street and a second in 1853 on Spring Street. Two years later, after petitioning by Harlem residents, the City announced a third tower, atop Mount Morris. Julius B. Kroehl won the contract with a $2300 bid (Bogardus wanted $5750), but followed the pioneer’s theory and design. He completed the structure in 1857. Employing then-revolutionary building technology, these early examples of post-and-lintel cast-iron architecture inspired the steel cages developed in the 1880s to support skyscrapers. The Mount Morris Watchtower is the only surviving example of this type of structure.

The 10,000-pound bell in the tower is not the original one. Cast by founders E.A. & G.R. Meneeley of West Troy, NY in 1865, it replaced an earlier bell furnished by Jones & Hitchcock of Troy, NY. Manufacturing flaws may have destroyed the first bell; more likely improper striking caused the damage. Originally watchmen struck the bell manually by pulling a lever on the observation deck, one tier above the bell. The four-legged iron frame standing beneath the tower today is the remains of an electro-mechanical striker that permitted remote operation; it was first installed in the 1870s and replaced after 1905.

The firetower network, which at its peak included eleven towers, fell into disuse in the 1870s as the Fire Department began to install telegraphic alarms on street corners and taller buildings rendered these early perches obsolete. At the request of neighbors, however, the Mount Morris tower continued to sound at noon and 9:00 pm weekdays, and at 9:00 am and pm on Sundays, for timekeeping and churchgoing purposes until about 1909. The Fire Department retained ownership of the tower until 1913.

Mount Morris Fire Watchtower still stands due to its protected location on parkland. The tower was designated a New York City landmark in 1967 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Through the support of the Marcus Garvey Park Conservancy and the Manhattan Borough President, Parks undertook a major stabilization of the structure in 1994.” [1]





ACTOR – Isaiah Johnson

ISAIAH JOHNSON appeared on Broadway in Peter and the Starcatcher and Merchant of Venice; Off-Broadway in Othello, Far from Heaven and Richard III (Bridge Project). His credits also include Michael Mayer’s Musical Inspired by the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, as well as Lin Manuel’s Hamilton Mixtape. TV credits include: Person of Interest (CBS), The Knick (Cinnemax) and Think Tank (Pilot).


DIRECTOR – Jordan Mahome

Jordan is an actor and director residing in Brooklyn.
As an actor: Lynn Nottage’s By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (2nd Stage), the acclaimed The Play About My Dad (59E59), Katori Hall’s Mountaintop as Martin Luther King, Jr., Tarell McCraney’s The Brothers Size (The Public/McCarter), Bradshaw’s The Bereaved (Wild Project), Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped the A Train (59E59) and Larry Kunofsky’s Your Boyfriend May Be Imaginary (St.Marks Under). Also, lots of Shakespeare including Orland in AYLI, Antonio in Merchant, and Lysander in Midsummer. National commercials and tv guest star appearances.
Feature films include Family Weekend w/Kristin Chenoweth, LIFE w/Eddie Murphy, Disney’s Max Keeble’s Big Move.
As a director: HOOPS, winner: Best Play in the 2014 New York Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, The Colored Museum at Columbia University, Wizard of Elm City at Yale Cabaret, other plays and music videos. Jordan is a High School English teacher, directs at The Lark Play Dev Center, and is a regular volunteer at The 52nd Street Project in Hell’s Kitchen where he works with the Teen Ensemble and young playwrights. MFA, Yale School of Drama.