The iReadShakespeare team
While in the middle of writing computer books for a living, I started my first Shakespeare reading group at my home. A decade and a half later, we are still reading an entire play out loud on the First Friday of each month.
Because others realized they wanted to read Shakespeare aloud, I opened a public reading group here in Santa Fe in 2011, which split into two groups by 2014 — about fifty people show up every Sunday to read Shakespeare!
When I created an opportunity to go back to school, I chose as my doctoral dissertation the history (and future) of Shakespeare reading groups across the U.S. and U.K. and discovered why these remarkable communities disappeared, giving me the motivation to stir them up again. And why not?
To say that reading Shakespeare—aloud or to yourself, in a group or on your own—is a rewarding experience is a remarkable understatement. To feel the words in your mouth, to hear the music and rhythm of the language in your head is often intoxicating, sometimes downright puzzling. In my own life and in my teaching I'm committed to lifelong learning and Shakespeare is part of that—the plays and his poems speak to us all but not always in the same way. Reading groups are a way of sharing our legacy of Shakespeare, of testing out the plays and what we think about them, agreeing and disagreeing, sorting out what exactly that line means, learning from each other and, above all, enjoying the experience.
For more about Lynn and her amazing accomplishments, please see her page at Oxford University.
Dr. Robson is also on the Advisory Board of the International Shakespeare Center.
I have seen that Shakespeare reading groups can bring neighbors together, cross all political and religious and lifestyle boundaries, and foster a community’s mental and physical health. With my interest in public relations and social work, I am committed to developing Shakespeare reading groups in under-served and rural areas.