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Week #11 - BRAVE NEW SHAKESPEARE CHALLENGE

Brave New Shakespeare Challenge - Sonnet 130 with Cynthia Nixon
Brave New Shakespeare Challenge - Sonnet 116 with David Ryan Smith
Brave New Shakespeare Challenge - Sonnet 76 with Ty Defoe

Week #11 - BRAVE NEW SHAKESPEARE CHALLENGE.

By today’s standards, Shakespeare was decidedly queer, a polyamorous pansexual who wrote nonbinary characters. But in early modern England, people did not presume that romance, desire, or friendship had to align with gender, marriage, or family .… Despite historical differences, the queer potential of Shakespeare comes through loud and clear.”

-From this week’s Shakespeare Thoughts by Erika Lin (See full thoughts below)

For our 11th week we challenge you to interpret and share: Shakespeare’s Sonnets 76, 116, and 130.

We’ve invited actors Ty DefoeCynthia Nixon, and David Ryan Smith to share their interpretations of these famous poems.

WATCH: Check out the videos from our Public Theater family for inspiration on this page. 
CREATE: Get inspired! Act, sing, rewrite, translate, paint, dance – whatever moves you!
CAPTURE: Record a video or snap a photo of your work. 
SHARE: Post your interpretation and share it with us and challenge your friends! Tag @PublicTheaterNY on Twitter and Instagram or @publictheater on Facebook, and be sure to use the hashtag #BraveNewShakespeare.
BONUS POINTS: Tag a friend who you think is up for the challenge. 

SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS.

SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS
By William Shakespeare
Sonnets: 76, 116, 130

76
Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?...

Read the full passage here

116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love...

Read the full passage here

130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;....

Read the full passage here

SHAKESPEARE THOUGHTS.

From Erika T. Lin, Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and award-winning author of Shakespeare and the Materiality of Performance

By today’s standards, Shakespeare was decidedly queer, a polyamorous pansexual who wrote nonbinary characters. But in early modern England, people did not presume that romance, desire, or friendship had to align with gender, marriage, or family. Love and sex were feelings and actions, not identity categories. Boy actors played women’s parts onstage. People crossdressed to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Shrovetide. King James swore his devotion to the Duke of Buckingham and openly shared his bed.

Despite these historical differences, the queer potential of Shakespeare comes through loud and clear. In Twelfth Night, when Olivia meets Viola disguised as Cesario, the youth’s description of how “he” would woo her sweeps the countess off her feet. The audience falls in love, too. But are we falling for the female character, the young man she pretends to be, or the performer playing those roles—or all three? Shakespeare was not unique in exploring these questions. Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl featured Moll Cutpurse, a seventeenth-century celebrity who simultaneously wore male and female clothing and transgressed gender norms by playing the lute in public. Lyly’s Gallathea told the story of two women who fall in love while disguised as men—and who remain in love once all is revealed, even as one of them physically transitions.

Shakespeare’s sonnets, too, are addressed variously to a young man, a “dark” lady, and others not defined by gender, sexuality, or race. The emotions these poems describe—and evoke in us—are eternal but not bound by societal rules. Who says that how we feel and who we love has to line up neatly? Shakespeare gives voice to affections and passions in all their infinite variety, a wide and universal theatre more wonderful and surprising than the scenes wherein we play.

Resources and Links.

READ ALL OF SHAKESPEARE FOR FREE AT THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY ONLINE!