Our documentary, Remembering Shakespeare, engages participants in a dialogue about memory, memorization and how Shakespeare’s words continue to live in us.
Shakespeare is the most remembered writer of all time. People from around the globe know lines from his plays and sonnets. Perhaps we remember Shakespeare today because collectively we are struggling with a crisis of memory. Shakespeare was writing in early print culture and we are living in the age of early digital culture. During the Elizabethan era, the reliance on oral culture shifted as public access to print texts expanded and literacy rates rose. Today, we are experiencing a similar process of change as myriad forms of digital technology are transforming how we think; what’s important to know; and what we value. If our memories can be contained on our phones, what do we in fact really need to remember?
In Shakespeare’s time, knowledge was still associated with human memory. His sonnets and plays are drenched in references to remembering. As a playwright, he was dependent on the memory of his actors to speak the words as he had written them. Today, besides those in the acting profession, few of us need to memorize anything. But studies on creativity suggest that new ideas are formed in the crucible of our memories and that memorization or ‘knowing things by heart’ can contribute to unexpected connections and new thinking.
This journey began with a series of free classes on Shakespeare and memory for the elderly taught by New School theater professor Cecilia Rubino at the Jefferson Market Public Library in Greenwich Village. From these sessions, we realized that a broad cross-section of people in New York live with Shakespeare’s words embedded in their daily lives. We followed up these classes with interviews of people who are passionate about particular lines of Shakespeare. Recurring themes are that people remember lines and phrases from Shakespeare that are connected to their own personal stories. Our film is mainly set in New York and as we moved around the city making the link between Shakespeare and these unexpectedly moving personal stories, we've tried to evoke a visual side of New York that compliments Shakespeare’s poetry.
The film is now finished with a running time of 80 minutes. And as we move into distribution and festival submission, we humbly ask if you would consider contributing to our film to help finance the marketing, publicity, and the networking strategies so that our film can reach a diverse audience. Contributions can be made via our Participation tab and all donations to the film are tax deductible. You can also reach us with our Contact page.