On First Looking Into Shakespeare Part Two

Last week we gave you the first installment from Megg Hewlett’s dairy about getting over her fear of reading Shakespeare in her library reading group. This is how the next session went:

Small turnout, five people only.  Three apologies from last week and two unknowns.  Shona, who is new to the group, looked to me as if she hated it last week, she had a strange look on her face all through the group.  And she is not here…I’ve frightened her away, she can see I’m rubbish!  Immediately I start to worry…maybe it is too much, perhaps they did not enjoy it, maybe it will harm the group doing something that is so difficult.  I try not to let the anxiety I am feeling become obvious to those present.  Three of the people who are away are the most comfortable with Shakespeare – each having read some previously and having enthusiasm for it – and they are not there to bring that to the group.

Jenny says of last week that she is ‘proud’ of managing to read what we have so far.  Others agree but I am aware that there is a strong underlying feeling that it is difficult.

We start.  Act one, scene three.  Pretty straight forward but I wonder if I am spending too much time trying to explain the plot.  I seem to have got into a role of explaining the action.  I am anxious that people will get bored and so I am trying to make sure everyone is up with the action and on board, that nobody gets left behind.

The reading is very good.  People are reading their parts very well, not rushing the words and I am enjoying their efforts a lot.

We move onto act two, scene one.  It is a long scene and it seems difficult for everyone to keep in mind the whole of the action.  We break it into small bits and I remind everyone that a lot of actors are on the stage and we are getting different perspectives form each little interaction.  We don’t manage to finish the scene and end two and a half pages before the end.

Jo says ‘it’s hard’ and others agree with her.  Noel says ‘I think it’s beyond me’.  The only consolation about this is that Noel does say most things are beyond him.  My anxiety increases and I start to wonder if we will make it to the end.  I don’t want to stop, that will feel like an acknowledgement that it is too hard for us.  That would not be something I want to have people think or feel.  I have to keep going and find a way to keep it feeling fun, enjoyable and doable.

Why have I put myself through this!  We could have stuck to a novel.  We would really enjoy it and I would not be worrying like I am now!

Session three next week…

6 thoughts on “On First Looking Into Shakespeare Part Two”

  1. Hmm, I regularly get about 40 people (mixed ability, some ‘challenged’ in one way or another) to my Shakespeare groups and they are paying the university for it, too, it’s not ‘free’ (aka funded by charities/ taxpayers/ lottery players/fun-runs) like these are.

    Something wrong somewhere but whilst you won’t encourage debate on this blog and only publish ridiculously over-blown praise you’ll never know what: too much back-slapping not enough willingness to listen to others – such a shame!

  2. yes, it was a bit like that for me too Joanna, anxiously waiting to see if the next week with the group would improve or be even more difficult…
    Megg

  3. I I can feel your stress coming through the web , and brings backloads of memories .I honestly did not have a clue what was going on whe we read the Winters tale but for some absurd reason carried on going , I think looking bck it was the atmosphere and noone pushed off the cliff til I was ready to fly !
    MY mum used to ask why I went to something that caused me so much distress , but mainly I felt safe their knowing I would not be asked to comment on something I knew nothing about ! I would not ever say I am a shakespere expert or be in charge of a group but i know one thing, I no longer need to drink gallons of coffee to keep me awake! hopeyou continue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *