"Because Survival is Insufficient": Sir Patrick Stewart's #ASonnetADay and the Role of Adaptation in a Pandemic


  • Stephannie Gearhart


Sir Patrick Stewart, #ASonnetADay, adaptation, pandemic, Star Trek, Station Eleven


This essay locates the popularity of Sir Patrick Stewart’s COVID-19-inspired Instagram series, #ASonnetADay, in its presentation of opposing forces. It begins by explaining how the tension between the actor Sir Patrick Stewart and the character he is well known for playing (Captain Picard) produces two irreconcilable Shakespeares in #ASonnetADay: one that is defanged and “universal” and another that chafes readers with 21st century sensibilities. The essay then focuses on the audience’s perception of Stewart as a celebrity in order to point out his presentation of himself as familiar, likable, and domestic, on the one hand, and as famous, privileged, and aloof, on the other, noting how this self-presentation echoes and buttresses the dual image of Shakespeare found in the series. Opposites such as these are unsurprisingly present in #ASonnetADay because contradictory characteristics are inherent in all adaptations; acknowledging one of these opposing pairs – repetition and difference – explains the appeal of #ASonnetADay and illuminates the role adaptations play in contexts such as ours, when survival proves to be insufficient.


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Appropriations in Performance