Over the past two weeks, my book club and I hosted a Shakespeare reading party.
We found the idea on BookRiot and were hooked on doing this ourselves. We don’t pick a January club title because we’ve all agreed with the holidays, it’s too hard to get a book read with travel etc. But you don’t have to read anything ahead of time for a Shakespeare party. Just show up, play in hand and read.
Since it’s January, we picked “A Winter’s Tale,” which most of us didn’t know.
The first meeting, we got through Act I-III and had so much fun, we decided to meet the following week to do Acts IV and V.
Reading Shakespeare aloud really helps with comprehension. Occasionally, we’d stop just to say, “Wait, did he just say this?” to make sure we were all getting it. But the longer we read aloud, the more our brains started to get it without needing a translation.
Not only is this geeky, cheap winter fun, but we also got to learn that one friend is freakily talented at being the mad, jealous, king Leontes. Another was eerily good at playing trickster/con-man Autolycus.
Yours truly got to be Polixenes, king of Bohemia, and various other small parts, including a mariner who quickly got shipwrecked. Sad.
And the best part?
One participant brought every hat she could find in her house, plus some scarves. As we changed characters, we changed hats. As you do at a Shakespeare party.