Sonnet 89

This short film is part of the New York Shakespeare Exchange’s Sonnet Project. The amazing, ambitious Sonnet Project is a double love letter to both Shakespeare and New York City. Each of Shakespeare’s sonnets is paired with an iconic NYC location, and given to a filmmaker to create something that celebrates both poetry and place.

I picked Sonnet 89 without knowing where I would be making the film. I was thrilled when I learned that the location was the arch under the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, Brooklyn. It’s a beautiful and evocative place, one of the last spots with some edginess in a fast gentrifying neighborhood. I had the added good fortune to be collaborating with Carman Lacivita, an actor I have worked with on all of the WordPlay Shakespeare video books.

The sonnets are textually difficult. It’s often hard to know exactly what they mean, especially without access to supporting notes and scholarly glosses. My process started by digging into the text and conceiving of a simple narrative that could be told in a short film: a man has been dumped by his lover; he sees her on the street and cannot talk; he agonizes as he watches her move on to a new life; ultimately, he is still so in love with her that her low opinion of him matters more than his own self-respect.

I spent a lot of time sitting under the arch, considering how to use the space to tell that story. I loved the contrast of soaring architecture and urban grit, a visual metaphor for the difference between the speaker’s feelings about his beloved and himself.

Cast: Carman Lacivita, Julie Kline, Landon Leicester

Learn more about Sonnet 89 at The Sonnet Project.


Behind the Scenes:

© 2023 Jessica Bauman
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