A new film uses Shakespeare’s name to portray a Salinger-like artist

Some indie filmmakers have the Lit audience covered. They’ve got Shakespeare in the title, on-location shots at Robert Frost’s house, and a plot concerning a JD Salinger-like recluse…

Frost Place is backdrop to New England filmmakers’ new project, ‘Shakespeare’s Daughter’

Published Nov 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm (Updated Nov 17, 2011)
  • The Frost Place


The Frost Place, a Franconia landmark that was home to Robert Frost and his family, has become the backdrop for a pair of New England filmmakers’ tale of a once-famous poet nearing the end of his life.

Billy and Aaron Sharff, of Cornish and Brattleboro, Vt., respectively, chose to shoot scenes for their independent film “Shakespeare’s Daughter” in October and this month at The Frost Place. The brothers chose the site, which is closed for the season, for the same rural atmosphere that inspired some of Frost’s most famous works about exploring the woods, fields and brooks of the region.

Still, it was another famous writer that inspired the siblings, who grew up near the Cornish home of J.D. Salinger, to pen this project. Based partly on Salinger’s reclusive life in New Hampshire, the film was modeled after Ingmar Bergman’s “Wild Strawberries,” a 1957 film that focuses on an elderly man as recalls his past.

“Shakespeare’s Daughter” centers on an aging poet in ill health, alone and unloved, who is seeking understanding and forgiveness for mistakes.

“His wife is dead, his daughter doesn’t like him, he has few friends,” says Billy Sharff.

London actor David Warner, 70, whose career has included roles in “The Omen,” “Time Bandits,” “Tron,” “The Company of Wolves,” “Titanic” and “Planet of the Apes,” plays the lead role, project officials said.

The cast also includes Mandy Patinkin (“The Princess Bride”), Cynthia Gibb (“Youngblood,” “Gypsy”), Dan Butler (“Frasier”), James Rebhorn (“Independence Day”) and Rusty DeWees (“The Logger,” “Where the Rivers Flow North”). In addition, production officials said, actors Tara O’Reilly, Alice St. Clair and Campbell Scott are involved in the project.

Several local people will serve as extras in various scenes as well.

“We are excited to bring this exposure to The Frost Place,” said Maudelle Driskell, executive director of The Frost Place, “through the film and the publicity associated with it.”

Robert Frost and his family lived full-time at the site from 1915 to 1920 and spent 19 summers there.

Filming also was scheduled to take place this fall in nearby locations and will resume at various times to include winter, spring and summer scenes. A release date is expected in January 2013, with a screening of the film at the Colonial Theater in Bethlehem, production officials said.

The Frost Place is open from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, and features the house museum and the Henry Holt Barn, where poetry programs and free readings are held, a film about Robert Frost’s time in Franconia is available to view, and books and merchandise are offered for sale.

A short poetry trail meanders through the woods behind the house with Frost poems displayed along the way. The poet-in-residence program, funded by Dartmouth College, gives someone each year the opportunity to live in the house and concentrate on his or her work for several weeks in the summer.

“Shakespeare’s Daughter,” an independent film being shot in New Hampshire, centers on an aging poet in ill health, alone and unloved, who is seeking understanding and forgiveness for mistakes.

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