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Actors invoke the Bard to create artistic response to coronavirus

  • Date

    Sun 29 Mar 20

Shea Donovan, actor and graduate of East 15 Acting School

As individuals face isolation to protect communities from the spread of COVID-19, East 15 Acting School alumni are invoking the immortal words of Shakespeare to develop a virtual creative response to the global health crisis.

Created by East 15 graduate Shea Donovan (above right), The Sonnet Response Series will see 154 artists, of all ages and disciplines, from around the world, each perform one of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets.

Working hard in isolation to develop their material, the performers will showcase their talents in a virtual performance art gallery streamed on Vimeo, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Alariza Nevárez from California is one of those taking part. She graduated from East 15 with an MFA International Acting and now teaches theatre arts – covering everything from improvisation to Shakespeare - in Los Angeles.

Alariza explained: “What brings us together is our love of Shakespeare. His words have already survived many instances when it felt like the world was ending. Art will always survive as long as there are artists willing to create.”


Alariza Nevárez
"While many artists are unsure of what the immediate future holds, this project aims to ground them in a global artistic community and encourage the creation of new work in crisis."
Alariza Nevárez MFA INternational acting, East 15 Acting School

Alariza will perform Sonnet 71: “I chose it because I felt a connection to the morbid and melancholy tone; it matched what the world was feeling at the time. I performed and recorded it in my living room on 17 March, when Los Angeles was a day away from mandating the Shelter-In-Place order, restaurants were closing, schools were cancelled, and no one really knew what was going on,” she explained.

“My performance is my response to that. My intention was to display something hopeful and beautiful in all the darkness.”

Alariza is one of 44 East 15 graduates taking part in the project. With performances from two East 15 lecturers, Robin Sneller and Salvatore Sorce, too, 46 of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets will be performed by actors associated with the School.

Shea Donovan explained the inspiration for the project: “In these uncertain times our collective is interested in exploring how to link individuals and communities in isolation, and how to generate creative work outside of our typical models of person rehearsal and collaboration."

“While many artists are unsure of what the immediate future holds, this project aims to ground them in a global artistic community and encourage the creation of new work in crisis.”

East 15’s Director, Dr Chris Main said, “I am extremely proud of the imagination, resilience and positivity our East 15 community has shown during this difficult time. Our industry has shown an abundance of creativity and, under the current circumstances, is finding new ways to channel the arts to an even wider global audience.”

Created in collaboration with Shea Donovan’s Indigo Arts Collective, the performance will be broadcast on Friday 10 April at 8pm, UK time (3pm New York time and 12pm Los Angeles time). Watch the trailer today and find out more.