Why read together and out loud?
There's nothing like a rich argument on why Jessica steals from her Jewish father and runs off with a Christian in The Merchant of Venice, or a lively discussion on just what is good leadership as seen in Antony and Cleopatra or the Henry VI plays, or the cause and effects of jealousy in Othello or The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Imaginative literature, including drama, is an ideal combination of learning and pleasure, of instruction and delight. A Shakespeare play does not provide definitive answers such as we may find in civic speeches or sermons, but it raises the same moral and political questions—and most importantly, Shakespeare lets us answer those questions for ourselves.
“We came because we love Shakespeare. We stay because we love each other.”
In these modern days of online communication, it's simply great to get together in the same room with other humans and commiserate our folly as a species, bask in the amazing accomplishments of our fellow mortals, voice our opinions and have them reshaped by new ideas, and leave a gathering feeling uplifted, smarter, more puzzled, and eager for more exploration of our humanity.
The mission of the iReadShakespeare movement is to foster a return to the tradition of reading Shakespeare out loud and in community, a tradition that in earlier centuries enveloped Shakespeare in the popular culture, included Shakespeare in family reading circles, reached out to residents in rural communities, kindled civic involvement and meaningful discussion among neighbors, gave everyone a chance to experience a larger world.
The International Shakespeare Center Santa Fe is invested in the historical evidence that proves that the more Shakespeare reading groups there are, the greater the interest in attending performance. Thus, everyone wins—actors, directors, theater companies, individuals, families, communities.
Can You Do It?
You do NOT need to know anything about Shakespeare to read the plays aloud together.
You do NOT need to gather a bunch of “intellectuals” or “experts” or even actors to start a reading circle. It's not rocket science or brain surgery (or as my friend Steve Krug says, “It's not rocket surgery”). It's just reading and chatting. The ISC Readers' Editions are specifically designed to make it easy to jump in and figure it out.
Download our free PDF that provides all the details on how to start your own group with just a few friends—or strangers who will become friends.
Start your Circle!
If you are involved in a Shakespeare festival of any sort, know that Shakespeare readers = Shakespeare ticket buyers. Start a group!
If you live in a rural area, bring abundant cultural cachet to your area—start a Shakespeare reading group!
Did you have to forgo college because of other pressing demands? Enrich your mind with a Shakespeare reading group!
Have all your kids left home and now you have time to indulge yourself? Start a Shakespeare reading circle!
Do you homeschool your youngsters? Reading Shakespeare together can help round out any education. Or include Shakespeare in the tradition of a Family Reading Circle, as millions of families did in the Victorian era.
Do you want to delay or avert dementia? Read Shakespeare out loud with friends!
Do you teach Shakespeare in a school? Our Readers' Editions are proving as hugely successful in the classroom as they are for adults readers.