Shakespeare for the People as all 154 of the Sonnets are performed in celebration of the Bard’s birthday at New York’s Central Park Sonnet Slam

Melinda Hall photographed by Pete Casanave at 2014's Sonnet Slam

Melinda Hall photographed by Pete Casanave at 2014′s Sonnet Slam

 

Starting at 1pm on Friday 24 April, no less than 154 Shakespeare enthusiasts – including students, scholars and performers – will take the stage one at a time, each reading one of William Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Welcome to the Sonnet Slam.

It began five years ago, founded by actor-director Melinda Hall. “I really wanted to create a place in New York City where Shakespeare was able to heard,” she says, “and performed by just about anyone.”

Now firmly established as an annual event, these free public readings in the Central Park Naumburg Bandshell are able to snag the attention of accidental, as well as intentional, audience members.

And, according to Melinda, the performers are just as varied as the audience. “We have doctors and lawyers and diplomats,” she says, “and shop workers and all sorts of people that read the sonnets.”

The event does attract some theatre professionals though. Readers this year will include Emmy Award Winning actor Richard Thomas, as well as actor and playwright Patrick Page, and actor Peter Francis James (who also teaches drama at Yale University.

This year there is an Indiegogo campaign accompanying the event which Melinda hopes will help to ensure the Sonnet Slam’s future.

“My vision is that we will raise enough money to hire some grant writers,” she says, “to assist in getting city, state, and arts funding, so the Sonnet Slam can be a perpetual event.”

SonnetPoster-2015
For more details on the Sonnet Slam visit the Facebook page.

Go here for details of the Sonnet Slam Indiegogo campaign.

And as an extra treat, here’s a video of Ben Crystal reading Sonnet 29 in OP (Original Pronunciation) last year’s Sonnet Slam.

Murder, Cannibalism and Puppets as a version of Titus Andronicus with strings attached opens in New York

puppt titus
As Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London wraps up its hyper-realistic and bloody run of Titus Andronicus, over in New York the off-Broadway group The Puppet Shakespeare Players prepares to open a version of the play featuring puppets and silly-string gore galore.

In the style of the popular broadway show Avenue Q, Puppet Titus Andronicus will be performed by a mixture of live actors, puppeteers, and puppets. Although the presentation style is reminiscent of a children’s entertainment, the production will still feature all the violence and slaughter of the original text.

The company describes the production as “a comedic take” on what they refer to as  “Shakespeare’s ‘worst’ play” (a reference to the sniffy attitude critics have taken to Titus Andronicus through the centuries). At any rate, the performance is sure to differ from more serious recent stagings of Titus.

As a company, however, the PSP aims to “reinvent and reimagine the Bard’s work through comedy, puppetry and a variety of other mediums while staying true to the original intent and spirit of Shakespeare’s plays.”

This will be their third adaptation of a Shakespeare play for puppets, having already staged successful versions of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.

The show opens at The Beckett Theatre in New York City on 24 July.

Go here for tickets.