Batley Library celebrated Shakespeare week last month with a reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
During a typical sleepy Sunday afternoon in Batley, sixteen readers came together to read one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies.
The event was a joint venture between the Friends of Batley Library and the Batley Poets.
Mohammed Barber, one of the volunteers for the Friends of Batley Library who organised the event said, “most people’s relationship with Shakespeare starts and ends at school. I was lucky in that I had a great teacher who inspired a love for the bard. I know that not everyone has that.
“All the thy, thine, and thou can be intimidating. Couple that with theatres which can be expensive and a bit snobby, it can be a massive turn off for working class people. That’s why I wanted to have a stripped-down performance in the library. The play and a bunch of people who want to read the play, irrespective of experience; that’s it.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream brings together love, magic, fairies, and an overzealous weaver whose head gets transformed into that of a donkey by a goblin, all set in Ancient Greece. The comedy remains hugely popular with audiences and is consistently performed on stage. The play has given rise to several famous phrases such as “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”, “The course of true love never did run smooth”, and “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”.
The afternoon was a great success, full of great readings with no shortage of laughs, or biscuits.
Mohammed Saloo from the Batley Poets was one of the readers, who had never read Shakespeare before. “In a way I’m surprised I’d never read Shakespeare before”, he said. “I suppose it’s because the opportunity hadn’t arisen, which is why I’m glad I took part in this session.
“When I found out I was reading Puck I had no idea who or what Puck was, or the relevance or importance of the character. I have to admit, I did follow the script with a radio play the day before, to be a little more familiar with the character. On the day itself I was nervous but once I’d read a few lines and heard the others, especially the laughter, I really enjoyed it. I loved having the last monologue, it just felt special.”
Plans are afoot for more readings of the bard’s plays in the coming months.