Sonnets to explore complex loves in SUNY Oswego professors' play

SUNY Oswego faculty members Mark Cole and Patrick Murphy will debut a play based on the anxieties, passions and disappointments of love expressed in William Shakespeare’s sonnets May 20 to 22 at Studio24 in Syracuse, under the direction of Gerard Moses.

Mark Cole.“Take All My Loves” will run 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21, and 4 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at Studio24, 1824 Grant Blvd.

“Normally presentations of the sonnets are done more as recitations,” said Cole, professor of theatre. “We wanted to explore them dramatically, as a series of monologues within scenes.”

The two faculty members developed “Take All My Loves” over two years. Cole and Murphy, who teaches Shakespearean studies in the SUNY Oswego English department as an associate professor and director of graduate studies, discussed ways to arrange a sequence of the sonnets to reveal one man’s unflinching honesty about the contradictions of love.

“Shakespeare’s sonnets are often read sequentially, as if they are about a love triangle involving a young man, a poet and a mistress,” Murphy said. “While working with Mark and Gerard on these poems, however, we began to realize that this common autobiographical reading is inadequate.”

Murphy said a more complete reading “needs to remember that the poet, who finds himself in love with a young man and aroused by a mistress, is also a husband to a wife and a father to three children. Seen from this more complete autobiographical perspective, the sonnets are Shakespeare’s deeply honest and sustained reflection—perhaps often phrased and rephrased in solitude—upon the full complexity of all of his loves.”

Time and mortality

Cole will play a writer named Will, who has just had a visit from his wife, Anne. Although she has left the room, her essence is very much present to Will, and triggers memories of her, his mistress and a young man the writer also loves. Will wrestles—through the dramatic language of 28 of Shakespeare’s poems—with lust, loyalty, betrayal, mortality and the cruel separations of time.

Moses, co-director of Studio 24, directed Cole and pianist Rob Auler, another Oswego faculty member, in “An Evening with Alan and Lawrence,” which played at Studio24 and on the college’s campus in 2009-10. Moses, who taught and directed at Syracuse University for 32 years, recently directed the world premiere of the opera “Eleanor Roosevelt” for the Society of New Music in Syracuse.

JT Lee, co-director of Studio24, has charge of lighting and sound design for “Take All My Loves.”

Tickets priced at $12 ($10 for seniors and $5 for students) may be obtained by calling 315-289-6613 or by emailing Due to the mature theme, audience members must be 18 and over. For directions, visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Complex loves—SUNY Oswego theatre professor Mark Cole will star as Will, a man struggling with love for his wife, mistress and a young man, in Cole’s and English faculty member Patrick Murphy’s play “Take All My Loves,” based on dramatic renditions of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The play will debut at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Studio24 in Syracuse. (Photo by JT Lee)

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(Posted: May 03, 2011)

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