Virtual Sonnet Competition

Event details

  • Friday | May 15, 2020
  • All Day

What was it like the first time you fell in love? Was your love like a summer’s day? Were you happy to love and be beloved? Or did you all alone beweep your outcast state?

The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre wants to know what you have to say about love in today’s world. We challenge you to write a modern-day sonnet and submit it to our Online Sonnet Competition!

Tell us your story or your point-of-view in the form of a sonnet. We invite you to riff on any of the motifs in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, modern interpretations of Romeo and Juliet, or any experience you’ve had about being in (and out of) love. Be specific. Use images. Give us a modern-day twist. Put into words something not usually said out loud. Help us redefine the debate on love in today’s world.

Record a video of yourself performing the sonnet you wrote and send us an unlisted YouTube link of your performance. Your sonnet will be shared on our social media platforms and people will have 10 days to vote on their favorite sonnet. A total of two winning sonnets will be chosen, one will be performed in The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s 2021 touring production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Carmen Khan, and one will receive a special gift.

Think about love as you’ve experienced it, about love in the media and the arts and how music, painting, poetry, fiction, and dance are all subject to the emotional tirades of love.

Your work can be inspired by Romeo and Juliet or by the love (and losses) of your own life. Make it original, make it specific, make us fall in love!

DEADLINE: May 15, 2020. Winners will be announced on our social media on May 26, 2020.

For questions or comments, contact our Education Director, Rebekah Wilcox, at 215-496-9722 or email at

1. Please click here to fill out our form indicating your intention to participate in the 2020 Virtual Sonnet Competition.

2All sonnets must be original and unpublishedNo translations will be accepted. The sonnet(s) should be written in the Elizabethan form. For a quick review of the Elizabethan Sonnet, follow these basic guidelines:

— 14 lines of iambic pentameter with an ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG rhyme scheme.

— Iambic pentameter is five pairs of unstressed then stressed syllables.

3.  Be conscious of the plot of the play: Most likely these will be placed in the Act Breaks, so you might want to write a piece that fits or gives perspective to one of those moments in the play:

— Act 1, Scene 5 (Boy Meets Girl)

—Act 3, Scene 2 (Boy Gets Girl)

—Act 3, Scene 3 (Trouble in Paradise)

—Act 4, Scene 4 (Boy Loses Girl Forever)

4.  Writers may enter as many sonnets as they wish in their division (Student and Adult/Professional), however, each participant can only have one winning sonnet.

5.  After voting takes place, there will be two winners, one in the Student category and one in the Adult category, there will also be eight runners up. The Student winner will have their sonnet featured in the 2021 touring production of Romeo and Juliet; and the Adult winner will receive a copy of Macbeth Moment By Moment, a brand new edition of Macbeth written by our Artistic Director, Carmen Khan. All 10 winners will receive free tickets to an evening public performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The two winners and eight runners-up will also have their sonnets featured on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel, performed by our professional actors.

6.  Entries must be submitted as an unlisted YouTube link via email to by midnight on May 15, 2020.

Our Educational Programs are made possible, in part, by support from:


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