Sebastian Michael

The (Possibly First Ever) HALF SONNETHON — In Aid of Arts for Dementia

Fundraising for Arts for Dementia
raised of £777 target
by 19 supporters
The (Possibly First Ever) HALF SONNETHON — In Aid of Arts for Dementia, 23 April 2024
Arts for Dementia

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We develop challenging arts programmes to inspire people living with dementia


In what may be a first of its kind, writer and podcaster Sebastian Michael is challenging himself to recite the first 77 of William Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets by heart in a hybrid live/online event to raise money for Arts for Dementia on Shakespeare Day 2024.


Tuesday, 23rd April 2024, 7:30 pm

Kensington Unitarians | Essex Church

112 Palace Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London W8 4RT

Estimated duration: approximately 90 minutes

And Online:

As a live stream at





Admission to the live event and access to the webcast are free – please donate to this fundraiser

Donors Please Note:

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Don't Know How Much to Give?

Any amount, no matter how large or how small, will be greatly appreciated and help Arts for Dementia carry out their wonderful work.

If you don't know where to start, why not think in multiples of 77?

77 times 10 pence is £7.70

Or why not double that and encourage me to learn the other 77 Sonnets as well:

77 times 20 pence is the same as 154 times 10 pence: £15.40

77 times 50 pence is £38.50

And if you're feeling flush as well as generous, why not go for a pound per poem: £77

This works in almost any currency of your choice and there's no limit to how far you can take it!...

Why a 'Half Sonnethon'?

"I first fell in love with the Sonnets in the summer of 2013, when a friend started posting one Sonnet to Facebook every day for 154 days in the run-up to Christmas. This quickly became the highlight of my day.

To me it became obvious that these Sonnets are Shakespeare's most personal, most intimate, most immediately revealing work, that far from being 'sugared' or sweetly romantic, they cover a vast range of his private and professional ups and downs, expressing rage, frustration, jealousy, loneliness, despair at the passing of time, and deep confusion, as much as love and admiration.

Fully aware that 'everything is conjecture, except the words' – as I put it in the tagline – and that almost everything about these Sonnets, not least the degree to which they can be regarded as biographical, is hotly disputed, I wrote a play, The Sonneteer, which together with actor Tom Medcalf and director Ros Philips I took to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014. It incorporates about two dozen of Shakespeare's Sonnets and imagines a possible course of the relationship between the poet and The Fair Youth.

Since then, I've recorded all of the Sonnets on YouTube and also created the Saturday's Sonnet video blog, which selected one Sonnet each week to look at in more detail.

In April 2022, Tom asked me to recite a Sonnet at his wedding and in doing so rekindled my passion for these poems and so I decided at that time to not only do a podcast on them, but also to learn them all by heart.

Now halfway through, I wanted to challenge myself to actually recite them in front of a live and online audience in something of a marathon session, or, to be more precise, a half marathon, since I'll only be covering half the 'distance' to begin with: a Half Sonnethon.

The only way it made sense for me to do this was to raise money and awareness for a charity whose aims I can wholly support. I chose Arts for Dementia for the life-enhancing work they do directly with people who suffer from this devastating condition and their carers and the important training and advocacy they do across the field."


At Arts for Dementia, we transform the lives of people living with dementia and those who care for them, through the joy of the arts. Since 2011, we have been delivering and championing artistic activity to profoundly enhance wellbeing, harnessing creative skills that can remain vibrant for years after dementia onset.

Our arts programmes run for 6-10 weeks at a time and vary from poetry writing, drama, dancing, painting to sculpture. We have been lucky enough to partner with some incredible arts organisations such as The Science Museum, The King's Gallery, The Royal Opera House and Central Saint Martins, the UK's leading college of art and design. These inspirational settings allow our participants to access new environments, engage with others and use a variety of art materials.

We also run regular training for art facilitators enabling more people living with dementia to have access to high quality arts activities. The 1,100+ trained to date, including independent artists, will reach over 18,000 people with dementia and companions in 2024. Our signposting and advocacy work promotes access to local arts engagement for families affected by dementia across the UK.

Our mission: Through participating in challenging art activities, our mission is to preserve the identity, sense of purpose, interests and joy of the those affected by dementia and those who care for them.

Our vision: We envision a society where people with dementia regularly engage in creative activities, challenges and adventures while enjoying life to the full without stigma.

“I'm learning that art is not just about paintings, the facilitators give everyone time to take part and have their voices heard. I'm learning that I can express myself in art.”

How your donations can help us:

£10 covers the cost of the art materials for a workshop participant.

£25 pays for a place at an arts workshop for a person living with dementia

£50 pays for a place at an arts workshop for a person living with dementia and a companion



Sebastian Michael creates across disciplines in theatre, film, video, print and online with a deepening interest in humans, the multiverse, and a quantum philosophy.

Sebastian’s stage plays range from contemporary relationship drama (The Power of Love – Southwark Playhouse) and a topical examination of religious fervour (Elder Latimer is in Love – Arcola Theatre), to the ‘apocalyptic comedy’ Top Story (The Old Vic Tunnels), and a celebration of Shakespeare’s poetry in The Sonneteer (Edinburgh Fringe). He also wrote the libretto for Icon (New York Musical Theatre Festival).

His short films and debut feature The Hour of Living have been screened at festivals worldwide, and he has published one novel, Angel, as well as a ‘picture story book for grown-ups’, The Snowflake Collector, which originated from his experimental project EDEN by FREI – ‘a concept narrative in the here & now about the where, the wherefore and forever’.

Sebastian is co-author of A Genius Planet (with Ludger Hovestadt and Vera Bühlmann, Birkhäuser, 2017), contributing author to A Quantum City (Birkhäuser, 2015) with the novella Orlando in the Cities, which has since been published separately in paperback and as ebook; and he is the writer and coauthor of the Atlas of Digital Architecture (Birkhäuser, 2020).

Sebastian is guest lecturer at Vera Bühlmann’s chair for Architecture Theory and Philosophy of Technics at the University of Technology Vienna (TU Wien) and since September 2022 he has been producing his own podcast SONNETCAST – William Shakespeare’s Sonnets Recited, Revealed, Relived.

In 2023, he took his first spoken word solo show Some Sonnets and a Bit of Bach to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to critical acclaim and in 2024 he is challenging himself to what may be the first ever Half Sonnethon, by reciting the first 77 of William Shakespeare's sonnets by heart to a live and online audience.

Sebastian lives in London and works wherever his projects take him.




The No 1 Shakespeare podcast to listen to in 2024 — FeedSpot

Sebastian Michael, author of The Sonneteer and several other plays and books, looks at each of William Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets in the originally published collection, giving detailed explanations and looking out for what the words themselves tell us about the great poet and playwright and his life, about the 'Fair Youth' and the 'Dark Lady', and about their complex and endlessly fascinating relationships. There are guest appearances from Shakespeare scholars and experts, and special episodes on topics of particular interest.

You will find SONNETCAST wherever you listen to your podcasts, including Amazon, Apple, and Spotify, or at



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About the charity

Arts for Dementia

Verified by JustGiving

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We develop innovative arts programmes to re-energise and inspire people in the early stages of dementia; we signpost arts events nationwide for people with dementia in the community; and we provide early-stage dementia awareness training for arts facilitators. We focus on what people CAN achieve.

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