Denver Sonnets Project, No. 78: Erica Lee Johnson

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

Jakarta SonnetWe are rolling out new Sonnet videos … well, as soon as they are completed and turned in. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

For Sonnet 78, actor Erica Lee Johnson takes us all the way to West Java, Indonesia, where she serves as a Peace Corps volunteer. Here, in this enlightening and heartfelt video, Johnson shows us how she uses John Lennon, a ukulele and the universal language of Shakespeare to teach Sonnet 78.

Scholars believe that in this sonnet, Shakespeare has been hurt by the source of his poetic inspiration. That other contemporaries have adopted his poetic style and honed in on his muse. Here, Erica’s interpretation seems much more an ode from teacher to students and back again. For surely just as she has opened their eyes to new worlds, so too have they for her. Communally they allow the educated to soar even higher, and enhance the gracefulness of the already graceful. Unlike the narrator of Shakespeare’s sonnet, there is no shortage of inspiration in this small classroom outside of Jakarta.

Johnson’s remarkable DIY film includes contributions from a choreographer, three cinematographers and a cast of 24 Indonesian locals. It’s longer than our previous Sonnet film entries – and worth every second.

Johnson is a graduate of Littleton High School and Metro State University. Recent acting credits include Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Present Laughter” and “Wonder of the World,” as well as And Toto Too’s “The Greater Good.”

The Denver Sonnets Project is an ongoing public art project, open to a variety of actors and filmmakers.  Each new short sonnet film is posted here first. The project is an endeavor to call attention to the work of the Denver Actors Fund. Learn more at  www.DenverActorsFund.Org.

Video series by John Moore. For those of you who have signed up for a sonnet, please keep them coming!

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register for a future episode, email your interest to John Moore at




Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 6, Joe Von Bokern: “Make worms thine heir!”

Sonnet 10, Augustus Truhn: “Thou art so possessed with murd’rous hate …”

Sonnets 11: Crystal Verdon Eisel: “Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.”

Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: “If I could write the beauty of your eyes …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 31: Sean Scrutchins and Devon James: “Thou art the grave where buried love doth live …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 55: Cajardo Rameer Lindsey: “You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 78: Erica Lee Johnson: “So oft have I invoked thee for my muse” …

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet No. 91: Sam Gregory: “Thy love is better than high birth to me”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”


Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at