Written by John Watters, Barnstable Patriot
There are few people in history who have a worldwide celebration of the 450th anniversary of their birthday, but then there are only a few that have the name recognition of the literary legend William Shakespeare. (A recent survey put the Bard, in with Lincoln, Napoleon, Mohammed and Jesus Christ as the most historically recognized names globally.)
In honor of Shakespeare, who quilled his words to parchment in the 16th and 17th century, the Elements Theatre Company of the Community of Jesus has started the Word Made Flesh project, which will allow you and participants from all around the world to use 21st century technology to tape performances of any one of his 154 sonnets. How amused and amazed would the Bard be that people are making sonnet “selfies”? It does bring another meaning to his words that “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players.”
“It’s hard to remember exactly how The Word to Flesh Project got started,” said Sr. Danielle Dwyer, artistic director of Elements. “Once the idea began to formulate, you kind of forget whose original idea it was. We just saw it as a practical and fun way to put Shakespeare’s words into the hands of the people. By having people from all over do it, it sort of becomes a quilt of words if you will.”
“We have people six years old to age 94 sign up to participate,” added Dwyer.
If you would like to participate you just need to go to wordmadefleshshakespeare.org. There you peruse the list of sonnets pick one you might like to do (I picked Sonnet 139). You familiarize yourself with it, and then with whatever method you wish to record it, such as phone, iPad or video camera, you submit it to the project so even you can be a player on the stage.
As you read this, Elements Theatre Company is in New York performing an original work titled Labyrinth: A Legacy of Language, exploring Shakespeare’s influence on other playwrights through the ages. The works of Richard Sheridan, Henrik Ibsen and Tom Stoppard are woven together with Shakespeare to create this new work.
Don’t fret if you didn’t get a chance to catch Elements performances in NYC, they are bringing the play home and will perform it at the Community of Jesus’ Paraclete House theater on April 25 and 26.
So for those of you who would like to brush up your Shakespeare and dip your toe into performing a Sonnet in the safety of your own home, visit the Word Made Flesh website, and join in; its easy and fun.