Having the Will to Search for Shakespeare

My local library is seeking to hang on to survival by organising a number of innovations to attract more users and to maintain its place as an important centre of the village community. There are regular weekly events catering for the elderly and the disabled, as well as classes for IT and art, plus of course activities for young children. The ‘friends’ of the library have formed a committee to organise events throughout the year and successfully orchestrated (pun intended) a musical evening, and organised an arts festival. A ‘Dickensian’ night proved so successful that this is now to be followed with a ‘Shakespeare’ evening in the next couple of months. And there’s the rub, as the Bard would have said. I seem to have agreed to involve myself in a performance on the night in question, which has the title of ‘Shakespeare and Love’. Note the ‘and’. Actors will recite famous duologues from the plays, Romeo and Juliet being the most obvious. Sonnets will be read by a local poet. Then there’s me. I will intersperse the performances with interesting facts about Shakespeare and his life. However, the fact that so little is known about the man, and what is ‘known’ is open to debate by those who are convinced the plays were written by someone else, that I am not sure how much information I will be able to deliver. More crucially, however, is what I am expected to wear. If the others are in costume, I imagine it will be churlish of me to decline to follow suit: doublet and hose rather than suit, I fear. All will be revealed – I’ll rephrase that! I will find out at the next meeting. In the meantime I am sourcing my commentary from the excellent Shakespeare by Bill Bryson.

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