A COMPANY of actors will swap the boards for the wards this week when they perform Shakespeare’s sonnets to patients at St George’s Hospital.

Over the next five days, five actors from North London theatre company Lightning Ensemble will tour outpatient clinics and nine of the hospital’s wards, reciting the English bard’s most famous 14-line poems to patients at their bedsides.

Areas to be visited include wards for the elderly and patients with cancer.

The idea for the project was inspired by the “sonnet walks” around the City of London offered by Shakespeare’s Globe.

Sarah Weatherall, Assistant to the Globe’s Artistic Director and Lightning Ensemble’s producer, believes the concept can work in a hospital setting too, especially one as large as St George’s:

“Sonnets were written to be addressed to an individual and in the right hands can be evocative and touching,” says Sarah.

“They offer an abstract and unusual engagement with patients, providing contact and entertainment, whilst also being emotional and intimate.”

Once the sonnet has been read, patients will receive a paper sonnet in the form of an origami flower.

The programme of sonnets has been funded by Awards for All the Lottery grant scheme for local communities and the St George’s Charitable Foundation.