Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Hallam London

Posted to Featured Gallery Soundscapes with 0 Comments on 01.10.12 by Harry Jelley


One day Hallam London stumbled upon a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets. When he decided to turn some of them into songs, he could build upon many different experiences—as a singer, guitarist and writer. He had studied Jazz Voice at the Dresden University of Music, had written songs for theatre plays, and had played the guitar in a pop band and in rock musicals and experimented with free improvisation as well as in a bizarre vocal duo. And last but not least he had founded the cosmofonics who toured all of Germany playing Hallam’s original songs.

Having found Shakespeare’s sonnets only accidentally, his fascination for them grew quickly. This fascination—paired with the wealth of his experiences—lets Hallam write stunning pop songs: unconventional, artful and yet gripping and catchy.

‘Just as an arresting song or an astounding theatre play, a beautiful phraseology causes sudden feelings of happiness in me. When reading Shakespeare this happens quite often. Besides, I’m fascinated by the incredible variety of images in his language. He seemed to never run out of them, and they always cut right to the point.

‘Furthermore, song lyrics often bore me—in fact, only a few don’t. The lyrics I wrote myself also didn’t meet my own standards, so something else had to be found. The internet is abundant with song lyrics free to be used, but almost all of them were put together from hackneyed phrases—leaving me with an uneasy feeling of familiarity. And, lacking even tender traces of imagery, there was no magic in them at all. In Shakespeare’s sonnets I find this magic—the magic that is essential to let me grow musical ideas.’

Hallam is currently working on a longplay album and a live show. As a teaser, he released the 5-track-album
‘The Winter EP – Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ in August 2012. You can find it on many download portals and on

William Shakespeare – Experiential Language by Ellie Turner

Posted to Featured Gallery Student Projects with 0 Comments on 01.10.12 by Harry Jelley


Experiential language is an installation that enables the viewer to experience the use, rhythm and power of Shakespeare’s language through ‘listening’ and the use of visual narrative. Two experimental moving image pieces representing Romeo and Juliet. Set in contrasting daytime and nighttime environments to create specific tensions, they transport the viewer into both the character and extract’s psyche. The curtains are a symbolic representation of a window into a 21st century Shakespearian world.

Romeo&Juliet ©ETurner 2012 from Ellie Turner on Vimeo.


Billy’s Bloggerel – Where do ideas come from? (part 5 – Love)

Posted to Billy Shakespeare Commissioned Artists Featured Gallery with 0 Comments on 26.09.12 by Billy Shakespeare

Billy's Bloggerel - Love

Welcome to Billy’s Bloggerel, a web-log of doggerel…

Where do Ideas come from?
Part Five: Love

O Billy? Billy? Wherefore are thou hidden?
The Queen awaits your players and your play.
This protesting protestant is our head
And may remove ours if it pleases her.

I am too busy for Queens of England,
For I have met the Empress of my heart.

If you deem that a metaphor of merit
We are all doomed to smile on Royal spikes.

But I am composing sonnets of sweet love
For you see, my heart, it flies like a…

Please do not say ‘dove’. I could not bear ‘dove’.

For my heart flies like a… white pigeon?

Enough! The Queen demands a play and a private
Audience with her playwright and his pig.
She would know from whence your ideas spring.

From whence do ideas spring? O who cares!


Nay! Hush awhile. And listen to my sonnet!

From whence do ideas spring? Oh who cares
When all needs are nudged out for sweet Anne.
Wintry howls are our story-told affairs,
When rivalled to true troth-plights piped by Pan.
Why should I delve for tales like a mole that trawls,
Clawing for seeds in filthy thick clay?
Wherefore should I please strangers in stalls
Whose love for me ends with th’end of my play?
No. There’s no room in my inn for more guests.
For love fills me like a loaf tin of baked bread,
And o’erspills her like corseted breasts.
No corner is empty in us newlywed.
All else we are, love will ever outweigh.
As true for this man, who hath Hathaway.

Tis a pretty sonnet. Worth a tear.
Perhaps more if the Queen hears not some verse.

I am distracted. And content to be.

Or not to be if she is unfurnished
With a tale that reddens her lead white face.
All our necks are yours. All our fates are married.
If you displease her she may make your Anne
Shaxpere into Hamlet’s Ophelia.

O! That quickens the heart as much as love!
From whence do ideas spring? O from whence?
Now I see it! Ideas spring from love.

Our friendship is like Falstaff’s waistband. Stretched.

I will tell it in a sonnet.

Must you?


From whence do ideas spring? From our cares!
We are like old ice crusting the cold peak
Of a lonely hill. Till love like sun flares
Thawing our burbling tongues, letting us speak.
For whom would we write a single letter
Or paint a single stroke, or sing an ode
If not for those whose embrace unfetters
And makes us their prince where once was a toad.
When my love accepted a bent sixpence,
When she took a pair of gloves and a ring,
Then did her love let me trust my true sense,
Then did the sun melt the source to the spring.
When I am gone, and marked by a fell stone
Remember all my verse was by love grown.

It is well said. Come, tell it to the Queen.
If we tarry longer then I shall cut
Both our heads off to save her the trouble.

Billy words and pictures by The Brothers McLeod
Billy animations on YouTube
Billy badges at the RSC Shop

My Shakespeare by Kate Tempest

Posted to Commissioned Artists Featured Gallery Performance with 23 Comments on 06.09.12 by Sarah Ellis

Kate Tempest 2

Watch Kate’s performance of what Shakespeare means to her.

Continue Reading

Billy’s Bloggerel – Where do ideas come from? (part 4 – Theft!)

Posted to Billy Shakespeare Commissioned Artists Featured Gallery with 0 Comments on 21.08.12 by Billy Shakespeare

Billy's Bloggerel - Theft

Welcome to Billy’s Bloggerel, a web-log of doggerel…

Where do Ideas come from?
Part Four: Theft!

Billy. You are late with expected verse!
Has your quill flown south with its former host?

Francis, my dear pig, I am quite hollow.
Have you ever had an idea, so rich
And full of pregnant possibility,
That you marvelled at your own unique skill,
Only to realise it was never
Your original, your ingenuity,
But a memory of inspiration?

You still yearn for originality?
A futile adventure. Surely you must
Know that nothing can come of nothing!
Surely you had a Mother, a Father?
You are no first draft, but a revision.

I thought I was inspired to write a tale
Of an aged King and his three daughters,
About the division of royal land,
But then I remembered the old story
And now I am inspired to drink strong wine.

Tonight, let us drink away your sorrows,
But tomorrow, you must prepare yourself
To be a thief and to steal ideas.

I will not do it. I will not purloin!

Listen to me! Each pig is his own pork
But all taste the same, all are good bacon!
Let us not call it theft, but distilling!
Yes! All artisans know well the goblet,
For they drink deeply from any they find,
But also because they are such vessels.
At their vintage they are full to the brim
With poems, painting, puffery and prowess.
They pour out their sweet wine with drunken glee
Into the ready mouths of their public,
But what can they do when they have poured all?
When they have run dry?
There is no choice but to refill the cup,
To sup and sip from the grails of others!

You flatter robbery with a merry toast!

No! You have not measured this new measure!
These many brews make a heady mixture
Of beers, wines, meads, and like good alchemy
They distil a new liquor, freshly potent!

I will admit, there is something in that.

Aye! And more important, though this new swill
May seem familiar, it has fresh flavour!
Certainly there are hints of grape and hop,
The tongue might note the honey and the grain,
But the wonder is the recombination!
It is an old story with new surprise.
It is a famous clown with bold, new face.
It is Ovid reshaped as William!

Francis! I am persuaded! I will steal!
But I will refashion, remould, recast!

I am glad you have met with my wisdom.
Here is more! Let us make haste to the inn!

Billy words and pictures by The Brothers McLeod
Billy animations on YouTube
Billy badges at the RSC Shop

Come and have a go if you think you’re Bard enough…

Posted to Featured Gallery Performance with 0 Comments on 15.08.12 by Sarah Ellis


Come and have a go if you think you’re Bard enough…

A digital Shakespeare project from the world’s faraway festival

As well as a being a haven for Hobbits, Wellington is home to the country’s biggest celebration of art – the New Zealand International Arts Festival.   The Festival transforms the capital over 24 days, packing the city with performances from the world’s leading artists and promising an arts adventure for locals and visitors.  In February the Festival asked the help of some of Wellington’s most famous resident actors including Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, King Kong), Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords) and Stephen Fry (The Hobbit) to develop a low-fi digital project that would run alongside its live performance programme.

The 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival celebrated the best of the Bard with a special programme of Shakespeare including the UK’s Propeller Theatre’s double-bill of Henry V and The Winter’s Tale; Pan Pan’s deconstructed Hamlet from Ireland called The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane; feminist Germaine Greer speaking on Shakespeare’s Wife; and the world premiere of the Māori Troilus and Cressida – which later travelled to The Globe in London as part of the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival.

In its digital programme the Festival set itself a challenge of Shakespearean proportions: to create New Zealand’s first ever crowd-sourced Shakespeare speech. Video content was pulled together over just a few days and featured fearless actors, personalities and presenters from the big and small screens in New Zealand who each contributed a line of “To be, or not to be”. They filmed their section by any means possible – iPhone, digital camera, webcam, studio cameras – whatever came to hand. It took 21 contributors, a quick edit – and quite a few outtakes – and then Come and have a go if you think you’re Bard enough was released to the world.

The 2014 New Zealand International Arts Festival is from 21 February – 16 March.

Caliban’s Speech by WIll Power

Posted to Commissioned Artists Featured Gallery Soundscapes with 2 Comments on 26.07.12 by Sarah Ellis

Will Power cropped

Will Power is an award winning Playwright, Performer and M.C. Along with a small select group of others, Power helped to create the popular performance art form known as Hip Hop Theatre. His plays and performances have been seen in some of the world’s greatest venues including Lincoln Center (New York), The Sydney Opera House (Australia), The Battersea Arts Centre (London), Royce Hall (Los Angeles), and many others.

In this commission Will Power explores the lyricism of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, bringing these rhythms into the twenty-first century by fusing them with the contemporary beats of hip hop.  Will’s fascination with the percussiveness of language will share how you can get to the dramaturgy and character of Shakespeare’s work through the rhythm of his language.  Having grown up with hip hop and exploring the intersection between hip hop and theatre in his work, this commission will create a fusion between Shakespeare’s meter and hip hop lyricism.  Check out this video which shares his process and collaboration with composer Justin Ellington.

Justin Ellington is a composer and Grammy award winning producer based in New York by way of Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout his career he has worked with stellar artists in both theater and the recording industry. As a composer his work has been heard on stages around the world most recently in the critically acclaimed Broadway production of OTHER DESERT CITIES, which earned a Tony nomination for Best Play.

If you’d like to remix this track or create your own piece to appear on myShakespeare get in touch with us. Please email for more details.

“If music be the food of love, play on” -William Shakespeare

Troilus and Cressida – ‘Uncle Pandarus needs to talk to you’

Posted to Featured Gallery Performance with 4 Comments on 23.07.12 by Sarah Ellis


“My tale’s of war and how it kills what’s dear,
A parable to turn my guilt to good
And caution you against a future war”
: Uncle Pandarus

Uncle Pandarus needs to talk to you. Follow his blog at as he tells you the tale of his niece Cressida and her lover Troilus. Each day for three weeks, Pandarus will update his blog with videos, photos, intercepted phone calls and his own manga artwork. Once he’s updated his blog, posts will stay there forever so you can keep updated as and when you like. This free-to-watch production from 1623 theatre company is supported by Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Igniting Ambition (Cultural Olympiad in the East Midlands), QUAD and the Great British Sasakawa Foundation. Remember, Uncle Pandarus needs to talk to you at

The inspiration of the Robben Island Bible by Matthew Hahn

Posted to Featured General with 0 Comments on 17.07.12 by Sarah Ellis

I first heard about a copy of the ‘Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ known as the ‘Robben Island Bible’ when a good friend was reading Anthony Sampson’s wonderful biography on Nelson Mandela in 2002.  I was fascinated by the story and found online the subsequent article that Sampson wrote [] ‘O, what men dare do’ in the Observer from 2001.

The book’s owner, South African Sonny Venkatratham, was a political prisoner on Robben Island from 1972 to 1978.  He asked his wife to send him ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ during a time when the prisoners were briefly allowed to have one book, other than a religious text, with them.  The book’s ‘fame’ resides in the fact that Venkatratham passed the book to a number of his fellow political prisoners in the single cells. Each of them marked his favourite passage in the ‘Complete Works’ and signed it with the date. It contains thirty-two signatures, including those of Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and Mac Maharaj, all luminaries in the struggle for a democratic South Africa.   These men signed passages within the text, which they found particularly moving, meaningful and profound. The selection of text provides fascinating insight into the minds, thinking and soul of those political prisoners who fought for the transformation of South Africa. It also speaks to the power of Shakespeare’s resonance with the human spirit regardless of place or time.  But, as he explains it, he just wanted a ‘souvenir’ of his time in the single cells. Continue Reading

Billy’s Bloggerel – Where do ideas come from? (part 3 – Dreams)

Posted to Billy Shakespeare Commissioned Artists Featured Gallery with 0 Comments on 29.06.12 by Sarah Ellis

Billy Blog 3

Welcome to Billy’s Bloggerel, a web-log of doggerel…

Where do Ideas come from?
Part Three: Dreams

Our dreams are both blessing, and curse,
Where we are gods, or else converse.

Fair Titania, will not cease
Till we have found our mystic peace.
In dreams, she guides us, like the blind,
Our hopes, and happiness, to find.
In her charmed cloak, we hide from woe,
And waking, keep her pixie glow,
At least for moments, then tis gone,
Though, haze of fairy, may live on.
If then we rest and contemplate,
It’s then, we open, we create.
For th’ Queen of Sprites lingers near.
Listen! Charms whispered in your ear!
Your hidden thoughts are now revealed,
No longer is the dream concealed,
See! Your bright hearth of desire!
The secret of your living fire.

Not all such journeys are so blest,
Some fright and haunt, when we would rest.

In dreams there is no iron song
To repel fell Lord Oberon.
The Fairy King in sleep has sway.
To him, the mares of night, obey.
They drag us by our self-milled chains,
To places of perpetual rains,
Where hate and fear have made a feast,
To satiate our hidden beast.
This Grendel quaffs a mead of terrors
Reminding us of all our errors,
Loves all of which we’re most afraid,
And shows each fall in a parade.
At last, the gloating King sets free
Our low souls to reality.
But here too in our wretched sweat
We owe cruel Oberon a debt.
The poison from his puckish potions,
Ferment strong and primal notions.
Even from his tricksy lyre,
Come the burdens that inspire.

Awake, we are like lucky steel,
That mute the fairies’ lulling reel.
Yet even here they wait like fades,
For daydreams where they prowl as shades,
They tease and taunt, like fools, like Lears,
And revel when we breed ideas.

Billy words and pictures by The Brothers McLeod
Billy animations on YouTube
Billy badges at the RSC Shop

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