‘Love’s Fire’ features seven short plays based on Shakespeare sonnets

Four free performances scheduled as part of RIT’s Celebrate Shakespeare events

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Brittainy Newman

Performers practicing one of seven short plays in Love’s Fire, based on Shakespeare sonnets.

Love’s Fire, a series of seven short plays based on Shakespeare sonnets, will be performed at Rochester Institute of Technology starting Nov. 10.

This is the latest of RIT’s yearlong commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The English poet, playwright and actor wrote nearly 40 plays and more than 150 sonnets.

This collection of short plays was commissioned in 1997 from seven playwrights. “They used the inspiration they got from the sonnets to write their play as an ode to Shakespeare,” said director Andy Head, adjunct instructor in the performing arts and visual culture department in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts. “This shows how his work can still be relevant in the present.”

Head said the plays run from 5 to about 30 minutes, and each features at least two actors.

“All of the actors are students except one, who is a community member,” Head said. “Half of the cast are first-year students. We have students majoring in museum studies, astrophysics, chemical engineering, game design and development, biomedical engineering and graphic design.”

Head said Shakespeare’s sonnets are not performed very often. The playwrights have woven the sonnets into their plays, and at the end of each one, the Shakespeare sonnet that inspired it will be read.

“This is a way to do theater that is involving Shakespeare, but without doing another Shakespeare play,” he said. “It’s a way of making the sonnets more active and bringing them in a more contemporary context.”

Love’s Fire will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-12 and 2 p.m. Nov. 13 in the 1510 Lab Theatre in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall. Seating is limited to about 50. All shows are free and open to the public.