Shakespeare’s sonnets may be pushing 400-plus years, but that’s not to say they haven’t aged well.
At least that’s how Devon Glover sees it. Glover, who is known as The Sonnet Man, is a rapper and teacher with a knack for setting Shakespeare’s love sonnets to hip-hop music. Last year, Saratoga Shakespeare Company (SSC) invited him to speak with students about the bard and his enduring relevance.
SSC recorded the session and did several interviews with Glover with a plan to offer up a video about Glover’s work online.
“That one episode turned into days and days of work and shooting. We just got so much. . . [about] how he found Shakespeare and how he unpacked the words for himself and how in doing so he found he could do it for others. It became this magic journey and it was just too much to let go into one episode,” said Marcus Dean Fuller, the executive and artistic director.
Instead, they divided it into a series of six episodes, which will be released bi-weekly on the SSC website and on YouTube. The videos are short but packed with educational and entertaining anecdotes meant to demystify Shakespeare’s work.
“Trust me, I’m from a math background, a hip-hop background, I dabble in rap and math. I do not really touch literature. If I can make a Shakespeare story connect to me or make it understandable to me, you’re able to do it,” Glover said.
“I think that there is this push to always find the irrelevance in Shakespeare’s works, saying it’s dated … and it’s easy to do that,” Fuller said. “But then when you watch the words come out with such express and love and meaning, in such a new and inspired way, I think it takes that argument apart and you go, ‘No, this is relevant. He was a writer, not just for his time but for all time and for everyone.’”
The series is the first 2021 online offering from SSC, though it certainly won’t be the last.
It’s part of what the company is calling “Ghost Light,” an online platform slated to include podcasts, interviews and more.
“Ghost Light is not going to be pigeon-holed into one singular thing. There will be a broad offering to come through Ghost Light and I’m really excited about the project and I’m excited to be able to give opportunities to artists to continue to work to some degree for the Saratoga Shakespeare Company,” Fuller said.
Beyond The Sonnet Man episodes, more content will be rolling out later this year.
“We’re going to stay active through this time and going into what would be our second year of COVID, production is still shut down for all intents and purposes, and although we have a lot of hope for the near future, getting back to live performance, it’s not going to be the same as it was anytime soon. I think as a company, we’re lucky enough to be nimble and to be able to pivot during this time and this is what we can offer so we’re going to offer it to the best of our ability,” Fuller said, adding, “Saratoga Shakespeare Company isn’t going anywhere. We’re here, we’re healthy and we hope to get back to live performance very soon, but right now we are still working.”
To view the first two Ghost Light episodes and for more information visit saratogashakespeare.org.