Years have said that Shakespeare’s writing speaks for itself; living on for centuries in words that portray romance, agony, and historic settings, never thought to be portrayed through a different medium. Well, the talented Awoye Tempo, director and architect of Sonnets on Tap, mentored by the Lisa Peterson, manages to fuse the art of tap dance with the art of Shakespeare’s words. Both shocking and memorable, her usage of tap dance does Shakespeare justice; symbolism, stage setup, movement, comes together to portray the emotion expressed in Shakespeare’s words. The prior thought that Shakespeare’s writing can only be portrayed through his very words becomes a myth, as Cherry Lane Theatre puts on a production that both perplexes the viewer and interprets the eternal old-fashioned words of Shakespeare with the modern dance of tap.
As a kid, teenager, or adult, let’s face it: unless you are a scholar, determining the meaning of Shakespeare’s words is a struggle. The constant analysis has the power to drive any reader insane; Sonnets on Tap softens the understanding, focusing the viewers’ eye on the visual rather than the language. Adults with knowledge of Shakespeare, with the will to consider symbolism, and the will to think will be refreshed by this performance, but after a long day of work anyone can face the fact that this performance is not for them. The thought process is a necessity when it comes to the shows symbolic representation.
From the outset of the performance, symbolism arises, the first Sonnet is understood, as the ball originally hanging begins to move in the motion of an old clock ticking the seconds away. The flow from sonnet to sonnet unnoticeable, as one performance comes together, honoring Shakespeare’s words and both confusing and mystifying the audience. The agility portrayed through the tap, depicts the anger, the pain, the agony; the sudden movements contribute to the words, as the leg swiftly turns in a clockwise motion to symbolize time. The simplicity of the set has the ability to focus the viewer on the gestures and language by using sudden props such as wood and roses, lighting, and wardrobe, as metaphorical substance. The direction and even the facial expressions coincide directly with specific sonnets. Sonnets on Tap by Awoye Tempo is constructed to metaphorically represent Shakespeare’s words and would both awe and perplex an audience, leaving an ongoing thought.