“All the World’s a Stage…”
Classically trained stage actor Mark Cohen teams with award winning documentary director Joshua Dylan Mellars in a mesmerizing, minimalist montage of Shakespeare soliloquies. The camera captures Cohen—who honed his craft at Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) affiliate Guildhall in London—as he performs a riveting one man show of the Bard’s most intriguing characters. From the storm tossed, supernatural world of The Tempest to the dank, dark corridors of Macbeth’s Dunsinane, Cohen and the camera collaborate in a celebration of Shakespeare’s poetry.
One Actor. One Camera. The Bard.
Shakespeare in the Shadows takes its inspiration from the drama, the rhythm, the musicality of Shakespeare’s prosody. Mellars—who previously produced a diverse group of music documentaries highlighting genres from around the world—decided to use the aural aesthetics of Cohen’s performances as a guide to find the tempo, measure the dynamics, and set the tone for the filming process.
Before shooting began, Mellars and Cohen met at Prairie Sun Studios, in the Sonoma County countryside, where the actor recorded a wide range of Shakespeare speeches within a couple of hours. Working like musicians in a jam session, the actor and director laid down the tracks quickly, never looking back, continuing to move forward nimbly to another dynamic, a fresh rhythm, a different emphasis.
The nuance of Cohen’s interpretations—the diminuendo and crescendo, the whisper and the roar—inspired a vision of what the two were about as location shooting approached. Then, with a tight schedule and a barebones budget, the pair took less than a day to film each speech at locations around the San Francisco Bay Area.