Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, November 12, 2009


A ShakeFest for Book Clubs is a miniature Shakespeare festival for book clubs or other groups to perform, especially designed for kids or adults who know nothing about his stuff or have no interest in it. You can just enjoy the party, or be edified by it, or both.

NO memorization is required, but hamming it up and extreme creativity are encouraged!

The Fest text includes some of the juiciest excerpts from 11 plays, together with brief introductions giving an idea of what’s going on, plus pointers to “deeper” meanings. The text also includes pics from my own friends' party/performance in 2003 (you can see more visuals from subsequent Fests at 2005, 2007, and 2008).

My friends have done Ophelia in drag, Hamlet and his mother with sock puppets, and Ariel's report to Prospero in PowerPoint; and my cat has played the role of Macbeth (with subtitles; see Kitty Karaoke Macbeth).

Also written especially for novice and intermediate Shakespeare readers are the Shakespeare Biographical & Historical Supplements. Did you know that Shakespeare's only son, named Hamnet, died a few years before Shakespeare wrote Hamlet? Or that he was a father to twins (which are key in both The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night)? Or that the struggle between Catholic and Protestant factions recounted in his "history" plays may have directly affected Shakespeare's own family? The Supplements are succinct and easy to read while including more juicy details than I’ve found in most sources aimed at beginners. A chronology of when the plays were probably written and a brief bibliography are also included.

I expect to use this blog as a place to publish info about new ShakeFest productions.