I read this just now, and I want to do it.
The author, DG Strong, relates how during a period of unemployment and depression, he met once a month with a group in his city to read all of Shakespeare's works aloud. Anyone could come; roles traveled round the table, each line in order. Too shy to take part? Sit on the periphery and read along.
All of Shakespeare's plays. Aloud.
Back in grade 9, my first exposure to Shakespeare was with the wonderful Arlene, whom I've written about. I'm now checking to see if I just used 'whom' correctly. Damn. Anyway. At 12, I sat there totally enthralled as she brought it to life, demanding that we hear Shakespeare as it was intended: as a play, not a novel. She made us read aloud. She told us what all the dirty jokes meant. She filled in the background with stories of the time, letting us know who performed this and how.
She showed us pictures of the outdoor theatres, to get a feel for how close to the performers the audience would be. She told us how men played the parts of women, and if the cheap seats down front weren't happy, they're throw rotten tomatoes at the performers. She explained how royalty and muckity mucks sat higher, and Shakespeare had to consider both sensibilities: those who craved the dirty jokes, and those who considered themselves above it.
She brought in Roman Polanski's MacBeth - a beautiful, violent film I've watched over and over. She played records for the other plays, expounding enthusiastically at the front of the classroom, her tiny exuberant frame running back on forth on teetering heels to make sure we understood what was taking place.
I don't know about my classmates, but I was transfixed. I loved the words; I loved this woman who felt it was so important that I love these words.
Later on, at McMaster University, I was lucky enough to take a course on Shakespeare. My professor was also an actor in productions the school did. An unassuming man in most regards, the second class would start, he was transformed. I had a towering, full blown production for each class, as he assumed each role and trolled the aisles, consumed by the words of someone he obviously adored.
My sons have tripped along with their required Shakespeare readings, and each time I've found myself submerged once again in this tapestry. As Pam, Christer's girlfriend, struggled with Hamlet last year, I summoned up Arlene's teachings, and explained and compared and illustrated the sweeping characters and plot. Once again I heard Arlene's enthusiasm, and once again I was reminded how timeless it all is. Pammy looked at me and said, "you should teach this. I finally get it."
I can't teach it, but I still love it. I read this article and found myself giddy at the thought of finding like-minded people to recreate his words.
And you thought the geeks only took science.