Out & About: Enjoy Shakespeare’s midsummer night in early February

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2021 9:57:09 PM
Modified: 2/4/2021 9:57:06 PM

HANOVER — If you’ve ever had an inkling to read the Bard’s plays in a stress-free environment, the Howe Library’s new First Sunday Shakespeare group might be a good fit.

The first gathering will take place at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday over Zoom where participants will take on a part from Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s open to people 15 and older. All who attend will read one of the many roles, which are assigned on the spot.

“It’s kind of the opposite of a book group. There’s no prep work for the month in between,” said Jared Jenisch, an adult services librarian at the Howe who helps plan programs at the Hanover-based library and modeled the group after one he started in Strafford about three years ago. “You’re just sight reading it, which is part of the fun as well.”

People must sign up ahead of time by emailing jared.jenisch@thehowe.org and more information can be found at thehowe.org. If participants do not have a copy of the play, Jenisch will let them know where they can find one. (Shakespeare’s works are public domain and available for free online.)

Jenisch said he decided to start with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in part, because it’s one of Shakespeare’s more lighthearted works, which makes it a great fit for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s one of his most accessible and delightful plays,” Jenisch said.

No experience in reading plays, or Shakespeare, is required. While people do not need to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream beforehand, Jenish strongly recommends that they watch a film version of it or read a synopsis.

“I think it’s important for people to understand that there’s no pressure around reading flawlessly,” he said.

Sight reading Elizabethan English is no small task, and, like the course of true love, it probably won’t run smooth.

“It’s OK to stumble. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s all about the fun of it,” he said.

At the end of the midsummer night, it’s more about the community than anything else.

“I think a pandemic is a great time for people to have another reason to gather around anything,” Jenish said. “Any event that involves people being together and enjoying something in common is probably more important and rewarding than it’s ever been.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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