Not even the Bard can escape the coronavirus with PETA's "Shakespeare in the Time of COVID" series

Is coronavirus the zeitgeist of the year 2020? Perhaps. After all, the times are telling. In this topsy-turvy world, people have had to conform to “the new normal” — and no one is exempted, not even The Bard. 

In honour of Shakespeare’s 404th death anniversary — which took place last 23 April 2020 — the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) has launched “Shakespeare in the Time of COVID”. An online series that celebrates the work of The Bard himself, “Shakespeare in the Time of COVID” includes entertaining programs such as “Sonnets & Songs”, which is a reading of the playwright’s sonnets and a reimagining of these into Filipino tunes. This is in collaboration with artists such as Michael Williams, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Noel Cabangon, Myke Salomon and Bituin Escalante. 

PETA will also be screening the play, “William”, on their YouTube channel. A multi-awarded musical in its own right, “William” has been described by the BBC as “a modern twist on Shakespeare”. It features ten original rap songs composed by Jeff Hernandez, which includes: “Nosebleed”, “O Shakespeare”, “What’s In A Name”, and “Pucha Bro”. Dance numbers of various styles — from ballroom to hip hop — have been choreographed by John Tan and will be performed on stage. 

An immersive exploration into Filipino culture, the play is set in a high school in Manila. In it, five young students are forced by their teacher to learn about Shakespeare. Although tedious, the five youngsters eventually rediscover the beauty of the writer’s works while touching on typical themes of adolescence — love, friendship, parents, and the growing pains that come with these.  

Viewers can access the livestream here via PETA’s YouTube Channel until 29 April 2020 (72 hours after its initial upload on 26 April). 

More livestreams will follow on their channel after “William”, including online workshops, talks, and wellness webinars. For more information, check out PETA’s social media. 

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