Text, performances, films, and commentary on Shakespeare's 154 sonnets.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011



A reading (with music) of Shakespearean sonnets

As the dialog of an intense love triangle

And a concert of Elizabethan music and song.

With Katie Fabel, Jessica Crandall, Heli Sirvio, Hank Heijink, Eric Roffman and friends*


April 23, 2011 at 6:00


Advance reservations at 212 989-9319 are strongly recommended!

Help us celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday with LOVE’S FINE WIT, a reading (with music) of Shakespeare’s most popular, most powerful, and most complex sonnets – rearranged as the dialog of an intense love triangle, with lust, betrayal, loneliness, and the triumph of true love. And a concert of Elizabethan songs and music!


*(Performers subject to their continuing availability.)

So... I arranged for a concert with some terrific singers and musicians, and I rearranged Shakespeare's sonnets for a reading. It tells the story of an intense love triangle. The sonnets, heard in this context of a dramatic story, as the dialog of the characters, reveal hidden and unexpected meanings and gain new power. Shakespeare was both a poet and a dramatist. Rather than taking the sonnets as his sort-of-maybe biographical musings, we are taking each sonnet out of its context, away from the usual ordering, and taking each sonnet for itself, then giving it a new context in its role in this dramatic story. Shakespeare in his plays was famous for giving each character his own voice. The sonnets seem to speak out in a whole range of different voices and moods. By taking the sonnets as dialog, as the voice of different characters, and not just WS's own voice, these different voices and moods have a new opportunity to be heard.

Several years ago I did a quite different arrangement of the sonnets:


In fact, one (almost defining) feature of the sonnets is that they are ambiguous. The same line can often be taken in two quite different ways, with quite different meanings, depending on how one interprets the syntax. (For example, take another look at the famous last line of sonnet 116!) This ambiguity helps make it possible for a sonnet to gain additional meaning and clarity by giving it a context in which it inherits the specific circumstances laid out by the previous speeches.

In filmmaking and film editing this is a familiar process. A shot of a man looking into the distance becomes a quite different shot, with different emotional content, depending on whether it is preceded by, say, a scene with a cute dog, a beautiful woman, a violent murder, an empty field of wild flowers, or a war.

LOVE'S FINE WIT, the particular rearrangement for this event, I think, tells a very interesting and moving story.

The Shakespearean songs, by the way are integrated into the story. They come from Ross Duffin's wonderful book, Shakespeare's Songbook (which also includes a DVD of many Shakespearean songs), and he himself was both encouraging and helpful in several e-mails.

The date, April 23, is special. Counting back from the date of his baptism, April 23 is usually considered Shakespeare's birthday. So we created this show as part of a three day celebration of Shakespeare's birthday at the Cornelia Street Cafe.

HOPE YOU'LL COME. Be sure to make reservations early!

Advance reservations at 212 989-9319 are strongly recommended!

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