Summer is for Shakespeare

Reading Shakespeare goes hand in hand with summer. Plays are short, for one thing, and it’s also the season of festivals and outdoor theatre events. It’s easy to brush up on plot and characters before heading to the park with your picnic and low-backed chairs.

The pressure is entirely off when reading Shakespeare on your own time. Maybe you are a fan of Shakespeare Unlimited, the fabulously rich and entertaining podcast from the Folger Library. Or, maybe you finished a novel, like recent bestseller and critical success Hamnet, or nonfiction that explores the period. There is no shortage of inspiration to read or re-read the words of the Bard himself.

This summer, try a new favorite, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night has both mistaken identities and twins. Twins were more than a convenient plot device for Shakespeare, and coming just a few years after his own son, a twin, had died, it is especially poignant to see Sebastian is discovered to be alive and the twins reunited.

It’s always worth dipping into to Shakespeare. The language is unfamiliar and there is a heavy expectation around it, but let yourself off the hook and instead get a little more acquainted with the story, rather than make a study of it.

Think about it this way, the plays can be even funnier, even scarier, or even more meaningful with a low stakes summer re-read of your favorite Shakespeare play.