05 April 2020

University of East London (UEL) student, Shea Donovan, has created a virtual ensemble by bringing together 154 artists from around the world together to perform Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets - a creative response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Described as 'created by artists, for artists, to bring creatives together during unprecedented times, the Sonnet Response Series has been an engaging diversion from the stresses of reality and a warming reminder that we, however far apart, are always connected.

I am thrilled with the response we've had to the project. With over 7,000 views and counting across 50 different countries, it's been extremely rewarding to see audiences engaging with the work. 

"We've recently been recognised by international arts organisation, Raw Artists, as one of five winners of their Stronger Together Challenge, and are continuing to pursue opportunities to expand the reach and impact of the project,"

Shea Donovan, UEL student and creator of the Sonnet Response Series, said.

Charles Egbu, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Education and Experience at the University of East London, said, "I am delighted Shea has created this initiative, which has brought joy and relief to many in these unprecedented times. We support all our students to enhance their student experience, gaining real life skills which will follow students into the workplace."

Shea recently received her MFA, with Distinction, from East 15 Acting School and is currently working on her Masters in Contemporary Performance Practice at the University of East London. 

Previously, Shea completed a student residency at Shakespeare's Globe, where she played Lady Macbeth. She has also been seen in a principle role on Investigative Discovery Channel's Blood Relatives. But the Sonnet Response Series has been a particularly big personal and career highlight.

She said, "Most important to me though has been the response and feedback from our participants. Many are grateful to have a creative outlet at this time and have shared feeling connected to a greater community and feeling welcomed, supported and free to create without judgement. 

"From the onset the project was about supporting a community in crisis, and I feel that we've successfully achieved that and formed a new, creative ensemble in the process."

Watch the clips:

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