The Project’s aim was to produce for performance a selection of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets representing the themes, audiences and intentions of the Bard. Jennifer Flowers was engaged by the CSPT Inc. under the scholarships program which offered free tuition and involvement to all participants (members and their students). The Project culminated in two public performances at the annual CSPT Inc. Conference 2020 held at Iona College. Two new members of the CSPT Inc. shared their feedback about their involvement in the project.
Laurence Olivier once described Shakespeare as ‘the nearest thing in incarnation to the eye of God’. After taking part in ‘The Sonnet Project’, I definitely see why. I have had limited experience in performing Shakespeare’s works, so when I saw this Project, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I had briefly met Jennifer at CSPT Inc.’s 2019 Conference and I was impressed by her expertise and intrigued by her approach to the material.
The most rewarding element of the project by far was getting to share in Jennifer’s passion for both Shakespeare’s works and literature at large. Her insight on the sonnets and her devotion to bringing out the best in each performer made the rehearsal process immensely rewarding. I appreciated how she applied the same patience and rigour to each participant, no matter their experience and skill level. It was especially comforting to know that despite how much or how little expertise we all had, we each faced our own challenges in understanding, interpreting and performing such intricate works.
Although it was a specific kind of thrill to bring together the performance in just three rehearsals, I would have loved more time to prepare and longer rehearsals. I’ve learned that the sonnets are enormously complex once you dive beneath the surface, and we needed a little more time to explore them in the depth they deserved.
Overall, I have found this experience invaluable. From Jennifer’s approach to directing to my newfound tools for interpreting Shakespeare, I feel as if I have gained triple the knowledge I expected. I feel privileged to have been able to work with Jennifer, and I hope to do so again.
‘The Sonnet Project’ was an invaluable experience and I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to participate. We were led through the process of deconstructing the sonnets, which involved an analysis of their underlying meaning. Jennifer assisted us in breaking each sonnet down until the intention was brought to life. I learnt so much over the short period of time we were given, and working with an amazing teacher like Jennifer who has so much knowledge and experience on this topic, was incredible. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed accumulating new insights into, and an appreciation of, Shakespeare’s works, as well as developing new friendships with a fabulous and diverse array of creative and very talented individuals.