All the World's a Stage: Shakespeare and the Invention of Modern Theater

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


In 1577 London, a new theater, “The Curtain” opens, where a brilliant writer and his literary circle of gay and bisexual playwrights invent modern theater.


Shakespeare is heralded as “a man of the theater” but exactly what was his involvement? In 1577 London, a brilliant writer finances a new theater, “The Curtain” where he produces the works he creates along with his literary circle of gay and bisexual poets and playwrights, and invents modern theater.


I wrote, directed, and produced Nothing Is Truer than Truth, a feature-length documentary about Edward de Vere as Shakespeare, his sexuality, and his travels in Italy. The film premiered on Hulu in 2019 and aired on SkyArts TV in the U.K. last year as Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name. My first feature-length documentary All Kindsa Girls (2006) had a short art house run and played festivals in the U.S. , Canada, and the U.K. Prior to making my first film, I worked as a publicist for several LGBTQ+ themed films, including Roland Tec's All the Rage (1996), Kaylyn Thornal's Payoff (1998) and Zack Stratis' Could Be Worse! (2000). I teach writing, literature and film at Lesley University, where my course "Gender, Identity, and Sexuality in Literature, Theater, and Film" has been running for 12 consecutive years. I work as a script consultant for screenwriters and producers, and am a frequent lecturer at Shakespeare, film and writing conferences. I was a screenwriting mentor at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival Conference and moderated a panel on adaptation and appeared on another panel of adapting historical works to film at the Association of Writers and Writing Professionals (AWP) conference. This project brings together my experience, research, and passion for film and literature. The series will integrate visits to archives to view primary source evidence and footage filmed at historic sites with a presenter/host and accomplished Shakespearean actors reading the texts written by the writers of Oxford's literary circle and rivals. The visuals will immerse the viewer in the world of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in Elizabethan London in the late 16th century by combining narrative storytelling and the words of the playwrights and poets with documents and locations that reveal the lives of the writers. The result will be a film that has the lush visuals of a travelogue with the authenticity of a period drama, transporting the viewer to another time and place where surprisingly modern ideas were being exchanged by the most gifted writers of the period. I received a research grant to study the manuscripts of Oxford and his literary circle and have traveled to London several times to conduct research at the British Library, Dulwich College Archives, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. I have access to several prominent Shakespearean actors and experts in Shakespeare authorship studies as a result of my previous film. I plan to begin filming at several locations in London this year including Cambridge University, Bishopsgate, and Shoreditch, at the sites of Fisher's Folly, The Blue Boar, The Bull Pub, the Theatre and the Curtain. I have also enlisted several scholars and authors to participate in the project. This series is specifically geared to everyone who loves Shakespeare, theater, and Elizabethan England. Fans of period dramas will connect with the story world and those who enjoy the discovery of new documentary evidence will be rewarded with tangible traces of how modern theater evolved. The project reimagines literary history in a way that is inclusive and provocative, subversive and empowering, entertaining and educational.


Cheryl Eagan-Donovan - Writer/Director/Producer
Cheryl Eagan-Donovan, M.F.A. is a writer, director, and producer whose documentary, Nothing Is Truer than Truth, premiered on Hulu in 2019, is now available on Amazon Prime in the U.S. and Canada, and aired on SkyArts TV in the U.K. in November under the new title Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name. Her debut documentary All Kindsa Girls screened at festivals and art house theaters in London, Toronto and throughout the U.S. She is a frequent lecturer at conferences, has published articles about screenwriting and film, appears on several podcast series, and serves as a manuscript consultant for screenwriters and producers. She is working on a book for screenwriters, Shakespeare Auteur: Creating Authentic Characters for the Screen, and a book about Shakespeare’s bisexuality. She served on the Board of Directors of Women in Film & Video New England, The Next Door Theater, and The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, and received a research grant to study manuscript circulation in London. She has spoken at AWP, the National Press Club and co-hosted an international online Shakespeare Symposium. She was also a screenwriting mentor at SXSW.

Vicki Oleskey - Producer
Vicki Oleskey, a native New Yorker, became interested in film early on. After graduating from NYU, she began her movie career in Morocco as a PA on Our Man in Marrakesh. Vicki read and evaluated scripts for a producer and worked as an apprentice film editor. She is an avid filmgoer and loves to attend film festivals. Vicki screens documentaries for the Woods Hole Film Festival and the Boston Film Festival. She served as an Associate Producer on Nothing Is Truer than Truth, and on the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film Board of Directors for over 10 years.

Mike Paterson - Cinematographer
Mike Paterson is a DP, filmmaker and producer for documentaries, and was cinematographer for Nothing Is Truer than Truth. Based in London, worked in broadcast fiction production for the BBC and Channel 4, and as a journalist and educator. DP productions won 2 Royal Television Society awards. DP with Werner Herzog on a 5000 mile road trip through Patagonia down to the end of the world. Mike has received critical acclaim for own projects as well: Colliding Particles and Elemental - Atomic Tales & Periodic Fables, a collection of documentary shorts. He lectured in documentary production at UK universities, received several awards, and presented sessions at SXSW, Sheffield DocFest and other international festivals. (

Zimo Huang - Editor
Zimo is a film editor based in Studio City, California who edited and co-produced Nothing Is Truer than Truth. He has edited several otherdocumentary films, including additional editing on the 2015 Academy Award nominated documentary feature Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, and narrative features Dominion, Moss, 77 Days, Sprinter" and "Buffalo Girls". “The Tomorrow Man”, starring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner, premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2019. Zimo was born in Beijing and moved to the U.S. when he was 13. His creative process is a mixture of traditional Eastern culture and modern Western style. He says of his work, "I want to weave the film into the viewers subconscious."


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