yorkshakes 2021 – World Sonnet Project

As a biennial festival, York International Shakespeare Festival should be launched and selling tickets now for our 10 day programme at the end of May.

We’re all aware why that’s not happening, and why for a festival focusing on international work, Covid and Brexit have become the preoccupying issues for this edition. With such uncertainty about what and whether we might programme, funding our work has also been drastically affected.

However, all is not lost. Following on from the good examples set by our European Shakespeare Festivals Colleagues through 2020, we will have a digital event between May 27-31. Circumstances permitting, there may in addition be a chance for some live activity in York, presented by local artists.

We’ll announce a programme closer to the dates, however there’s one exciting idea which we want to create and for which we need your help – a crowdsourced project to collect simple filmed recordings of all 154 Shakespeare sonnets each in a different language or dialect.

Collected Sonnet projects aren’t new, and we acknowledge our debt to those who are developing or have made full recorded collections. The concept of different languages is inspired by our colleagues at the Shakespeare Festival in Craiova who seeded the idea in 2020 and of course to the Globe to Globe project from 2012.

Through this celebration of Shakespeare and Language we want to explore how Shakespeare can be a force for unity and coming together, and at the same time to remember the diversity of languages around the world and to relish their power of expression.

Our aspiration is that by looking outside our regular partners and colleagues, we will make and build new relationships with Companies, Artists and Shakespeareans right around the world, and that from these contacts, new presentational and collaborative opportunities will develop for future festivals. We’ve learnt from our enforced lockdowns that building relationships is the best way to maintain our energy and creativity.

We have many starting points for the project, with connections around the world. Now we need to put together a small team to make it happen in time for the festival in May

There are lots of ways in which you can help, from contributing a sonnet in your language or dialect, to helping the YISF team to find and build partnerships with potential readers and language associations, and building the webpage and then helping upload the material as it comes in. As well, we’ll need to make sure that our publicity coverage and social media are good.

To get involved – just email Philip Parr at Parrabbola at info@yorkshakes.co.uk

We need your help!