The Caltech Playreaders

2020-2021: The 70th Season

All of our readings will be held at 7:30 pm


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

7:30 pm PDT

Shakespeare Sonnets

Directed by Ann K Lindsey


    Kathryn Bikle

    Todd Brun

    Carol Elaine Cyr

    Greta Davidson

    John Davidson

    Barbie Insua

    Phoebe Kellogg

    Cara King

    Douglas Smith

    Diana St James

    and special guest Tiffany Kim

    Special thanks to Leslie Maxfield and Caltech's Academic Media Technologies and Communications office for support in hosting this performance on the Caltech YouTube channel.

Performance link to Caltech's YouTube channel.

Please note that this performance was only available for one week will not be available on YouTube afterwards.

While tickets are not necessary for this reading, we politely request (as is customary at our live play readings) a small donation to help support our all-volunteer organization:

Follow along program with the text of all sonnets

On June 23, 1592, London theatres were closed due to the plague and the possibility of civil unrest. They were not reopened until June of 1594. Shakespeare, unable to pursue his emerging career as an actor and playwright, turned to literary art, publishing two dramatic poems, Venus and Adonis in 1593, and Lucrece in 1594, which brought him fortune and fame as a poet. Scholars think that the writing of Shakespeare's sonnets was also begun during these plague years. The sonnets were first circulated among his private friends and not published in full until 1609, well after Shakepeare's fame as a dramatist had surpassed his initial fame as a poet. For centuries these breath-taking sonnets have been the subject of scholarly scrutiny and attempts to mine clues to the poet's own life and loves. With their glorious language, dazzling imagery, and profound meditations on love, art, time, and immortality, his "sugared sonnets" still remain tantalizingly elusive in their meanings.

And so we come full circle, in the midst of our own plague year and civil unrest, to find solace and delight in sonnets begun during plague years over 400 years ago. The Caltech Playreaders will present a varied assortment of Shakespeare's sonnets as interpreted for today's world. The Zoom presentation will be broken up into two halves, with a brief prerecorded discussion after each half.