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Shakespeare's sonnets come to life on stage

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: April 19, 2012

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An amateur theatre company based in Lincoln has been selected to represent the region with their play as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Open Stages project.

Indulgence will perform an extract from A Sonnet for Anne, a new play written by Lincoln's David Owen Smith, which incorporates ten sonnets by William Shakespeare, in Manchester to the Royal Shakespeare Company where they could end up being selected to perform their production as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.

Michael Boyd, artistic director for the Royal Shakespeare Company, says: "The project aims to embrace, develop and celebrate amateur theatre, while opening up access to Shakespeare for performers and audiences alike."

Before the group head to Manchester, you can enjoy the performance in its entirety at Lincoln Drill Hall.

The play sees William Shakespeare during his retirement, as he is visited by poet and dramatist Ben Jonson, who brings with him a gift of collected sonnets, which Shakespeare's wife, Anne, takes up and begins to read.

David Owen Smith says: "I had already started on the script when we found out about the project, and it fits in perfectly. I have always been a Shakespeare fan.

"Over the last few years I have begun to think more and more about Anne Shakespeare – or Hathaway as everyone likes to call her. I began to think about what her life must have been like. I was considering the sonnets and what she must have thought the contents of them were about.

"I have set the play at the end of Shakespeare's life when he has returned home, retired from the theatre." The play explores what very different lives William and Anne lived. David says: "His has been quite wild sometimes, bohemian, moving among royalty."

Whereas Anne has been living at their home and been at the heart of their community. When Ben comes to visit with a copy of the sonnets he has found in a bookshop, Anne's interest is piqued and she starts to read them.

"Shakespeare's sonnets are meant to be the most revealing," says David. "People have tried to find out about his personality in his plays but they are too complex. With the sonnets though, some of which are very personal, you begin to get the nature of the man. But he is still very elusive. He doesn't mention anyone by name in them."

Organisers of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Open Stages project received more than 400 entries. Of those only 30 were newly written plays, including A Sonnet For Anne.

RSC Open Stages will culminate in a national celebration, when a selection of participants will be invited to perform their productions at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, performing alongside the company's own festival productions.

A Sonnet For Anne will be performed in The Room Upstairs at Lincoln Drill Hall between Wednesday, April 25, and Friday, April 27, 8pm each evening. Tickets: £8. Box office: (01522) 873894, www.lincolndrillhall.com

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