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Jobsite’s ‘Madlib’ gives Shakespeare a virtual nod and wink

Bill DeYoung

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For Jobsite Theater, Giles Davis performed a "Madlib Sonnet" virtually in early April - the first example of digital theater, 2020-style.

Shakespeare was never quite so … verbose. Was he?

Armed with a idea too good to ignore from actor Roxanne Fay, Jobsite Theater’s executive director David Jenkins offered friends, fans and followers a unique challenge March 23: Using a stuck-at-home variation on the parlor game MadLibs, re-construct a Shakespearean sonnet (Sonnet 18, as it transpired) with substituted words of the nonsensical variety. It cost a free-will donation of any amount to insert a word, and once the final verse was set in virtual stone, a $1 donation let participants vote for which of Jobsite’s semi-regular thespians (there were nine in all) would perform the “new” piece in a social media video.

“We received around $350 in donations for the words and around the same for extra votes,” says Jenkins. “So $700 total ain’t bad right now. Better than a kick in the jimmy.”

The verdict, when it deadlined April 6, was a landslide: Jobsitians far and wide wanted to hear the words spoken by Giles Davies, the chameleon-like actor who shines in drama, comedy, theater of the absurd and/or experimental, and … Shakespeare. In fact, Davies received nearly half of the 200 votes cast.

Born to Welsh and British parents, Davies spent the first 14 years of his life in colonial Hong Kong, where he learned to love acting. “I just love doing theater in all its manifestations,” he told the Catalyst last year. “Whether it be solo work, or poetry readings … give me a novel, and I’ll read it to you. It’s just the performance of the written word. That is it for me. Characters are fun, acting is fun, but the performance of the written word. So I’m not an improv actor.”

Although he’s been living and working in the Tampa Bay area since 2007, Giles remain an active member of Cincy Shakes, a renowned Shakespeare Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Which explains his “natural” way with the “Sonnet 18 Madlib”:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s dinosaur?
Thou art more slimy and more boisterous.
Rough chinchillas do shake the beautyraceous stroopwaffles of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too fancy a prestidigitation.
Sometime too hot the sloth of heaven shines,
And often is his antibacterial complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime lustfully,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, fancy;
But thy sinister summer shall not shimmy,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death forbid thou wand’rest in his spittle,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. So long as men can hesitate, or eyes can swallow, So long lives this, and this gives pears to thee.

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