We established the ISC Press to develop and create the Readers’ Editions of the plays, the only edition in the world that is specifically designed and edited for readers in a Shakespeare reading group. The many features of the books are shown on our iReadShakespeare.org site. We are also producing the ISC Synopsis Series, short booklets designed for reading as you wait for the play to begin.
The ISC Press is founded and led by Robin Williams, who has an extensive background in publishing and communication design, a doctorate in the history (and future) of Shakespeare reading groups with a focus on editorial practice, as well as a decade and a half of experience in leading Shakespeare reading groups. This unique combination of skills, experience, and passion led her to realize the need for playbooks for lay readers that can encourage reading groups to feel comfortable diving into the plays without waiting for an “expert.”
From as early as the twelfth century and into the eighteenth century, it was a normal practice while reading to keep a small book handy in which to write commonplaces—“sentences grave and serious,” or striking, notable, or poignant passages—that one might find while reading.
As opposed to a journal or a diary, a commonplace book is a collection of wisdom discovered in the world, particularly “virtuous” thoughts to share and live by. One is expected to engage with the ideas recorded and to intersperse one’s own thoughts and questions and arguments.
This commonplace book, 6 x 9 inches, contains 100 pages of lightly lined cream paper with a different Shakespeare quotation on each page. Record lines from your Shakespeare readings that you find personally insightful, delightful, wise, or witty, thoughts to ponder on, to memorize, to share. Consider also recording your own memories of these lines and the plays, such as when you read them and what they meant to you at that moment. Thus you transform this commonplace book into a unique treasure and valuable part of your heritage.
ISC Synopsis Series
The ISC Press also publishes the Synopsis Series, small and inexpensive booklets designed to be read while sitting in the audience before the play starts, or in addition to the Readers’ Edition. Each one provides a detailed synopsis and phrases to listen for in each scene; famous quotations and everyday quotations, short essays about pertinent topics, such as the Wyrd Sisters in Macbeth or the theme of Jason and the Argonauts that runs throughout Merchant of Venice, and questions to think about as you watch or read the play. These are on the press at the moment—check back soon for publication dates!
The ISC Press is under the non-profit umbrella of the ISC and thus loves donations to the cause! ;-) Help us with a national reading initiative to foster and develop adult Shakespeare reading groups across the country!