The theory for the past seventy-five years has been that Shakespeare is not to be read, but only to be experienced on stage. But this theory ignores the previous three hundred years of millions of people reading the plays—out loud and in community. Records of reading groups combined with records of performance clearly indicate that readers familiar with the plays become the audience for performance. The history of Shakespeare reading groups is fascinating and important, and gives us permission to once again renew this profoundly satisfying habit.
Come learn a little about this history, and then let’s read aloud and discuss! You might be inspired to start your own reading group. Silent readers are absolutely welcome as well.
Robin Williams has been leading Shakespeare reading groups for more than a decade and has a doctorate in the history—and future—of reading Shakespeare aloud. Please register at Renesan.org.