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March 13, 2017

Just the Right Amount of a Good Thing: The Shakespeare Book Club


Washington DC's Shakespeare Theatre (STC) is a jewel in the city, with an extraordinary community service reach… is another facet to that jewel. 

The theatre wanted to find even more ways to further connect their patrons to the plays being shown on their stage…, for the 2016-2017 season, the Shakespeare Theatre Book Club was launched. You can check out their offerings here.

I attended a discussion of GAME OF CROWNS, chosen to tie into STC's production of "King Charles." I didn't know what to expect; would it be totally highbrow, and snooty? Deep literary and historic analysis? Mandatory conversation in iambic pentameter? Not so much! It was so much fun, so welcoming and engaging.  

Discussion was lively. (Because really, is there anyone who DOESN’T have an opinion on the English royal family?)

The attendees, twenty five or so men and women, were mostly strangers --- a few who had attended past discussions, but mostly newbies on their own.   

Led by STC’s Jared Shortmeier and his awesome colleagues, the discussion was smart and funny (in part fueled by mimosas generously provided by STC). Staff facilitation was great --- they made sure everyone was welcome to contribute. 

The best moments from those discussions, from the point of view of the staff, have been hearing how the play on the stage has influenced perspective on the book and vice versa. The best moments from my point of view were the benefits that a lively book discussions always provide, including thinking about the world around you in a different way.

But there’s more! The sessions are presented at no cost to participants. STC does all of the program logistics --- picking the book, announcing the time, collecting the RSVPs, providing the place, leading the discussion.

If you are part of a wonderful long-term book club, as I am fortunate enough to be, isn’t the thought of just popping into a discussion a little bit liberating? No house to clean, no snacks to prepare, no checking in with people to see if they are coming!   Just read the book, and prepare to be amused. (Did I mention that drinks are provided?)   

I can hardly wait to hear the discussion around EVERYBODY BEHAVES BADLY,geared to the production of "The Select."

Having attended one discussion, I am happy to say I am signed up for the series. There are a million reasons to recommend visiting the Shakespeare Theatre when you are in DC --- participating in a book club discussion is one more!