Did Shakespeare Experience Writer’s Block?

Do you ever wonder if Shakespeare experienced writer’s block?
It is suggested that he produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. So, in a span of 24 years he wrote at least 38 plays, 154 sonnets and 2 narrative poems. It begs me to question where he drew his inspiration?
In this short film, Anna Cohen offers us a glimpse into how Shakespeare worked through writer’s block to write Romeo and Juliet.

Do you experience writer’s block? What are your methods for getting past it?

What if Shakespeare……were a hipster drama student at a modern-day college in Canada?

Such is the premise of Blank Verse, a self-styled “Shakespeare Web Series” produced by Nik Nok Media. The show imagines how the bard would act, think, dress, and write if he came into his own as a playwright not on the boards of a 16th century London playhouse, but in the classrooms of Bankside University, a fictional present-day Canadian theatre school. Bard enthusiasts and history buffs alike will have a ball spotting the various historical figures that have been transplanted from Elizabethan England to a Canada-like present day: Christina “Chris” Marlowe is a best-selling novelist/Creative writing MA candidate, Elizabeth Tudor is the head of the Creative Writing Department at Bankside, Richard Burbage (one of the actor’s in Shakespeare’s company, The King’s Men) is a hard-partying undergrad, Benjamina “Ben” Johnson, is an overachieving highschooler enrolled in a Bankside class for extra credit. Will himself is an angsty twenty-something with a blog and a dream.

Now tell me that isn’t the darlingest thing to hit the internet since the last time your kitten did something cute and you caught it on your iphone just in time.

The first season aired in weekly installments from August to December 2013, and the team is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to launch their second season. If you are looking for a cute, quirky, and endearingly nerdy webseries to get into, look no further than Blank Verse!

Did You Know? Shakespeare Was Also An Actor…

Did you know that during Shakespeare’s lifetime he was also an actor? It is not known how many roles he played, but we know he began his career on the stage by at least 1592, since there is reference to this in Robert Greene’s Groatsworths Of Wit. In 1594, he had already established himself as an actor and playwright, then William Shakespeare became a shareholder in Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the most popular acting troupes in London. He remained a part of this company for the rest of his career, often playing before the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

Other roles that many believe Shakespeare played were the title role in Edward I: a play by Edward Peele in 1593, and smaller roles in a variety of his own plays, including: As You Like It (Adam), Macbeth (King Duncan), Henry IV (King Henry), and Hamlet (Hamlet’s father). Shakespeare’s first biographer, Nicolas Rowe, referred to a role by William Shakespeare, as “the ghost in his own Hamlet and that he was ‘the top of his performance’. William Shakespeare the actor soon moved on to become William Shakespeare the playwright and theatre owner.

Wordy Wednesday – “All that glitters is not gold”

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday! Every Wednesday we’re going to look at a cool word or phrase from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare was something of a genius when it comes to creating new words. He was also good at using old words in new ways, using words that had always been verbs as nouns, and vice versa. And he invented some phrases that we still use today! In fact, some have been used so often throughout history that they are now cliches, which are expressions or phrases that are so overused that they lose their original, literal meaning.

Fool's gold

Fool’s gold, also known as pyrite – did it fool you?

We’re going to start our Wordy Wednesdays with the phrase “all that glitters is not gold.” Shakespeare used this phrase in his play The Merchant of Venice. Originally it was actually “all that glisters is not gold,” but over time “glisters” was replaced by “glitters.” Shakespeare was not the first person to ever use the phrase, but after it appeared in his play it became popular and entered everyday speech.

“All that glitters is not gold” is a pretty simple idea: not everything that looks showy or expensive is actually valuable. Think of fool’s gold, for example. Just because something is shiny doesn’t mean it’s gold!

See you on Friday for another new blog feature!




By: Kathleen

Meet the SIA Team: Mat Howard, Fearless Organizer

Next up, the amazing Mat Howard.  His official job title is “Education and Development Coordinator, Creative Planner,” but we like “Fearless Organizer.”

Mat Howard, Fearless Organizer

Mat hails from Sydney, Australia and is deeply passionate about Shakespeare, theatre and his dog, Finn. In addition to working in Arts Administration, he is a playwright, theatre director and performer, having created over 30 main-stage and studio productions in Australia, Canada, Thailand, and the USA.

In 1998, Mat was named Young Australian Shakespearean Artist of the Year and studied at the Globe Theatre, London, and Royal Shakespeare Company. Mat has since taken on many ambitious challenges, re-interpreting both classical and contemporary texts and devising original works.

Mat’s playwriting credits include Blunderland (2003), Fallen Fruit for the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival (2005), The Third Tomorrow (2007) and Vector (2009). Directing credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (2000), Hamlet (2002), Angels in America, Parts I and II (2004), Medea (2004), Pericles (2006), Lady in Waiting, which toured to New York City (2008) and Talking Heads (2008). In 2010, he will direct Normand Chaurette’s The Queens for the Alumnae Theatre, as well as a new devised piece by Nonnie Griffin, titled Sister Annunciata’s Secret. Mat has also directed Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest for Shakespeare in Action’s Shakespeare for Kids program.

On the Admin side of things, Mat has worked as National Education Director for The Shakespeare Globe Centre Australia, Company Administrator for Mocean Dance, Halifax and as Program Coordinator at the Bangkok International Conservatory of Performing Arts/Chulalongkorn University. For more information about Mat, visit his website:

Mat loves working with Shakespeare in Action, and is excited about the challenges and adventures of the year ahead!