Coming soon, to a couch near you

Updated: 21 March, 2020 10:36 IST | Prachi Sibal | Mumbai

An initiative is letting people in isolation perform collaborative Shakespeare performances remotely

A scene from Romeo and Juliet using Toy Story figurines
A scene from Romeo and Juliet using Toy Story figurines

While the coronavirus outbreak around the world may have made social distancing the order of the day, it seems to also bring the world closer in a time of crisis in its own way. As such, when San Diego-based actor Julia Giolzetti put out a Facebook post with the idea of Sofa Shakespeare, she received hundreds of responses, including 20 from India (mostly Mumbai and New Delhi).

"The idea was: what if a bunch of people stuck in their homes took one minute each of a Shakespeare play, and combined it into one performance?" says Giolzetti who has performed Shakespeare herself for the last 20 years, and has seen her acting and teaching assignments dry up in the wake of the pandemic.

So, since last Sunday, she began with Romeo and Juliet, assigning one-minute chunks to those who have been emailing her. "Once they are all received I will edit all the videos together into a free online performance of the entire play. This is meant for everyone in the world who feels isolated or scared right now, and could use some levity right now. Shakespeare is for everyone, and so is Sofa Shakespeare," she says adding that she hopes to release a play every week and complete at least four of the 37 by the bard. Next up, is Twelfth Night.

Julia GiolzettiJulia Giolzetti

The performances are meant not just for professional actors but anyone who is looking to do something during isolation. Delving into further detail, Giolzetti reveals, "The audience can expect a ridiculous, entertaining ride once this is complete. It stays fresh because the actors change every minute. For instance, Romeo has been played by a cat, a Barbie doll, a hand puppet, a child, and even Legos. In between moments of true Internet hilarity though, there are many truly great acting performances as well. Many of the actors are professionally trained in Shakespeare, including me. I perform the Prologue and it is fun to see how a scene can be interpreted in so many ways".

While the lockdown may have sparked it off, Giolzetti wants to continue doing this after it is over, as long as it keeps her and others' interest piqued.

Email SofaShakespeare@gmail.com

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First Published: 21 March, 2020 09:22 IST

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