News / Arts & Entertainment

Shakespeare's Sonnets Come to Life in New App

The famed Martin Droeshout engraving of William Shakespeare, printed on the cover of Shakespeare's first Folio, or first complete collection of his plays, printed in 1623.
The famed Martin Droeshout engraving of William Shakespeare, printed on the cover of Shakespeare's first Folio, or first complete collection of his plays, printed in 1623.
Reuters
A new app launched on Monday aims to bring William Shakespeare's sonnets to the masses with the help of short films starring stage actors performing them in front of New York landmarks.The Sonnet Project is a free app for the iPhone and iPad that showcases the bard's poetry through films of up to two minutes and performances by Tony-Award winning actors Joanna Gleason and Cady Huffman, among others.
 
“Shakespeare gets a bad rap. A lot of people say 'I don't like Shakespeare, he's over my head,' or 'Shakespeare is boring,”' said Ross Williams, the artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Exchange, the non-profit organization behind The Sonnet Project.
 
“I wondered what happens if we share Shakespeare in really easily digestible chunks so people can get used to having him in their lives?” he added.
 
Shakespeare's 154 sonnets, first published in 1609 explore themes such as the love, beauty, and death.
 
Different locations across New York were selected for each sonnet, including the World Trade Center Memorial and the Brooklyn Bridge. Actors and directors and text coaches helped to interpret the themes.
 
To mark the launch of the app, 10 short films will be released on Monday, and a new one every few days after that. About 75 more films have been completed or are in the works. Users can receive notifications with the iPhone app when a new one is released.
 
Another iPad app released last year called The Sonnets by William Shakespeare includes performances by actress Kim Cattrall, of “Sex and the City” fame, Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek” and British actor Stephen Fry.
 
Created by Britain's Touch Press, it also features commentary and information about the sonnets. The app, which costs $6.99, also includes a replica of the original sonnets, and interviews with scholars and Shakespeare experts.
 
Cambridge University Press also launched two new iPad apps for Shakespeare lovers in February as part of their “Explore Shakespeare” series, including the plays “Twelfth Night” and “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Other plays in the series include “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Each cost $13.99 and feature audio performances, commentary and other interactive content.
 
Williams said the New York Shakespeare Exchange's mission is to bring Shakespeare to the masses. He hopes that by introducing Shakespeare's sonnets in small bites people will appreciate and understand the works.
 
“When you hear those words something just moves, shifts inside of you,” he explained. “There is a simplicity of spirit within the poetry and I think that's why people can connect to it in such an amazing way.”

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."