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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
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 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 Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

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."