Write Like Shakespeare | College of Arts

Write Like Shakespeare

Shakespeare: Still at work


Professor Sky Gilbert, School of English and Theatre Studies, is a teacher, writer, director, filmmaker, and he was co-founder and artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (North America’s largest gay and lesbian theatre) for 18 years. He has received three Dora Mavor Moore Awards and the Pauline McGibbon Award for theatre directing, and he was the recipient of The Margo Bindhardt Award (from the Toronto Arts Foundation), and The Silver Ticket Award (from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts). In 2014 a street was named after Sky: SKY GILBERT LANE. Sky Gilbert continues to produce plays in Toronto, and in Hamilton, Ontario where he lives. 

His current work includes teaching a class of undergraduate students about the pleasures and benefits of learning to write like Shakespeare.  Since early Modern students from the 1500s were grilled in the same exercises, day after day, the question emerges, did this contribute to the extraordinary brilliance of the poets of the era?  Gilbert states, “We are not all Shakespeare. But was Shakespeare simply a ‘genius,’ or was he the most extraordinary product of the education of his time?” Gilbert thinks this exercise proves that when we use Shakespeare’s techniques, we may not become Shakespeare, but we most certainly become better writers. And if the Ciceronian justification for rhetoric is true, we become better people, too.

Enjoy the results!


Kinaan Asif

Why do the best things in life become bittersweet? Why is it we oft look upon the best moments in our past with bittersweet melancholy? Those moments of enjoyment and love now tinged with the sadness of time, the pain of passing? Is all we can do to live in the past and dream of the days when things were better? Before we grew into people who live in constant fear of what is to come. Bathed in our own pains from changes we had no control over. Rooted in the anxiety of tomorrow. Entrapped in the passing of time as things spiral beyond our control and we stay, helpless to watch. All we wish is to go back to before our mistakes. Before all the wrong choices we made that brought us here, now… for what? Like a note that has been plucked, a candlestick burned, words spoken, money dropped, promises broken, and people lost  Like the one wrong move going 200 down the freeway that sends you out of control.  Can we just go back to before? 


Valerie Senyk

I am not Shakespeare, though I write. Words want to flow out of me, become a reality on paper or in voice, but I am not Shakespeare. I write plays that want to express things about what it means to be human, but Shakespeare’s already done that better than most. I want to write poems that help others dream, but Shakespeare’s already done that in Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest...Still, Shakespeare doesn’t know modern man and woman, and I do...and Shakespeare is dead, and I’m not.


Sophie Tzountzouris

We often dread the thing that is best for us. The fear of the fall is the plunge toward freedom. The comfort of lying in the bed we know is not a sacrifice when we never know if we are to sleep again.  Like staying awake to avoid a nightmare, wearing your warmest socks though there is a hole in the toe, continuing to love a person who does not love us, your mother putting your coat over your Halloween costume, walking away without looking back, knowing that closure does not always heal, keeping the knife within the wound


Leah Bogatie

Fear is liberating. To be afraid is to gain power.

When you are exposed to the worst possibility of reality, true reality cannot frighten you anymore. Like nightmares of truth, falsities in science, sweating in a cold room, feelings amidst facts, an anomaly in a world of alikeness, dangerous socials, the screeching echo of silence.


Kalia Lenaghan

Life is sticky and nothing sticks! I am a spider and I am the fly tangled in its web.

There is no certainty in identity, and no identity in certainty.

Like a race with no finish, a spark that blazes and then smoulders without catching flame, a decision in which every choice is wrong, trying to hold air, I am bound to a ship but the ship is not anchored, I harvest the fruits of my labour while I sow the seeds of my own demise.


Julian Akrey

Those who see are yet blind too

Deceptively perceptive and yet still crassly ignorant

A way of looking, granting rich treasures of mind while excreting the dull.

Touching but not feeling, hearing but not listening, drinking but not tasting, knowing but no understanding, fasting but not starving, sighing and not crying, together but detached.


Jessica Poole

Now the pain heals me. Perhaps it is the flame that cauterizes the wound that you left in my side, burning me oh so tenderly. Or the life-giving knife that cut into my flesh and the needle that sewed me back up, so that I may keep breathing my ragged, gasping breaths. Perhaps it is the sharpness of a set bone, the prick of a needle, the pull of a tooth, or the ache of a too-full stomach. Though I shall suffer in it, and I loathe it, I shall become emaciated and afflicted without it. Indeed, I suppose the pain of living is the proof that I am still living.


Felicia Richmond

You made me warm when my heart was cold

A burning desire whilst knowing I was rigid within

At times we require another in order to feel whole

Like the sun shudders from the moon, water pelts on the skin, waves crashing to the shore, tea on a cool night, tender lips, fresh linen on a mattress, a breath of fresh air

Oh, how I long for you to be made for me