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Sonoma County Author Hosts Virtual Discussion on Shakespeare This Weekend

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Sonoma County novelist Jean Hegland leads a panel discussion of "Shakespeare Everywhere" on Sunday, May 16, as part of Occidental Center for the Arts' Virtual Literary Series. Photo Credit: Wiktoria Bosc, courtesy Fondation Jan Michalski.

Most people only get to experience the works of William Shakespeare in limited theater or classroom settings, but Sonoma County author Jean Hegland sees Shakespeare everywhere.

In fact, Shakespeare and his plays inspired Hegland’s 2015 novel Still Time, which follows an aging Shakespeare scholar’s struggle to reconcile with his estranged daughter. The book has been called “a novel Shakespeare would be proud of.”

Now, Hegland gathers a panel of acclaimed creators for an online discussion on how Shakespeare influenced their work in fresh, exciting and powerful ways.

“Shakespeare Everywhere,” presented as part of Occidental Center for the Arts’ Virtual Literary Series, features Hegland as well as a rapper, a cartoonist, a zine editor, and a Young Adult novelist participating an eye-opening online conversation on Sunday, May 16.

Devon Glover is a teacher, rapper, poet, playwright and actor from Brooklyn, New York. He performs hip-hop versions of Shakespeare’s sonnets as The Sonnet Man in schools and theaters worldwide, and he’s appeared on network television and at conferences and Shakespeare Festivals worldwide.

Glover has also written adaptations of Shakespeare for various theatre companies, and he is currently working on a one-man show based on Shakespeare’s Othello that is commissioned by the New Perspectives Theatre.

Mya Lixian Gosling is the artist and author of Good Tickle Brain, the world’s foremost (and possibly only) stick-figure Shakespeare comic, which has been entertaining Shakespeare geeks around the world since 2013.

Gosling also draws Keep Calm and Muslim On, which she co-authors with Muslim-American friends, and Sketchy Beta, an autobiographical comic documenting her misadventures as an amateur rock climber.

Mac MacDaniel grew up going to punk shows in Richmond, Virginia. He is a hairstylist, playwright, editor, educator, and author who makes Shakespeare relevant to young audiences through zines like Brief Candle, which he publishes through his own company, Last Syllable Press.

Gary Blackwood grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania and developed a love for writing early on in life. Now the author of Young Adult novels and more, Blackwood looks to the Bard for inspiration for books like The Shakespeare Stealer and Shakespeare’s Scribe. He’s also penned a number of stage plays (including a widely produced adaptation of Stealer) and has lately turned his hand to screenplays.

A Sonoma County resident since 1984, Hegland’s first novel, Into the Forest, has been translated into seventeen languages and adapted as a French graphic novel and a feature film starring Elliot Page and Evan Rachel Wood.

Get a taste of the panelists’ work, and hear them discuss how and why Shakespeare inspired them. “Shakespeare Everywhere” streams via Zoom on Sunday, May 16, at 4pm. Admission is $5; free for OCA members. Proceeds benefit the OCA. The recording of the discussion will be available on YouTube within 24 hours of the live event. occidentalcenterforthearts.org.