Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Reading

Every year, friends of mine throw a big bash on the weekend closest to Midsummer. This involves drink, zany costumes pulled from a big store kept especially for the occasion, lots of laughter, and of course, a reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream for which all participants are randomly assigned parts by pulling scrolls out of a hat. This is the sort of silliness that ensues:

I drew Titania; the scroll is tucked into the top of my dress. (No pockets, you see.) Darwin's costume and attitude are inspired by Monty Python. Photo credit to JS.
This year's party is this weekend, and we are fully prepared to have delightful times and look ridiculous and throw ourselves into bit roles, because you can't get Titania every year, though you can trade up if you catch someone with a big part who doesn't like to read in front of people.

It is events like this that make me wonder why we so seldom do the things we find most enjoyable. I've taken part in a handful of dramatic readings over the years, from Midsummer to Love's Labour's Lost to The Jeweler's Shop to Matthew Lickona's Surfing with Mel, and each one has left me wanting more. Putting together a play reading is easier and less time-consuming than throwing together a musical in one's uncle's barn, but I've never moved to organize one myself. And yet, who doesn't have access to a copy of the Collected Works of Wm. Shakes.? Everyman or Our Town or Murder in the Cathedral can be found in every library in the US.  It's slightly more difficult to organize a cadre of interested and able readers, but that's where the party comes in. Food to bring 'em in, and drink to keep 'em there, and by the second act everyone's brilliant.

Ah well. Whenever I host my own dramatic reading, you're all invited to come and raid the stash of 50s and 60s outfits in my attic, and if someone brings a record player we can play the stacks of wax up in the in the closets, and we'll horse trade until we're all kind of satisfied with our parts, and then we'll make the Bard proud.


Enbrethiliel said...


I'm so tempted to make this the theme of my next birthday party, but have a feeling every last one of my friends will RSVP in the negative! =P

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Me! Me! I want to come.

I had a friend in college who organized Shakespeare evenings where we'd sip wine and read through a play. Such fun. I miss doing that kind of thing.

BettyDuffy said...

Your house would make a great setting for a reading. DO IT!

Brandon said...

That sounds like an endless amount of fun.

Bernadette said...

I would come, and chew scenery! Mmmm... tasty!

Twelfth Night actually performed on or near the Epiphany... both fun AND liturgically correct!

Leah said...

I did the same thing this weekend. While I was visiting DC, I rounded up my friends to read Midsummer. I took Helena, so we could have a whole scene in which I was notably tall.

mrsdarwin said...

I drew Theseus and traded up to Oberon, but I wish I'd let Darwin trade for Oberon, because he was stuck with Robin Starveling, about the smallest role in the whole piece.

Oberon was fun, but I think that Titania is still my favorite Midsummer role.

Matthew Lickona said...

I had been wondering what caused the spike in sales for Surfing. (SIX copies this month!) Many thanks for the mention.

lissla lissar said...

You know, we did that on our honeymoon. We'd invited a whole bunch of our friends to come along with us to Ottawa (in January- it was chilly) and we all crashed our former math professor's house, and he and his wife fed us dinner, pulled out many bottles of wine, and we read Much Ado about Nothing. One of our friends ended up playing three different characters in conversation with each other.

It was brilliant. Especially as the American friends who weren't allowed to drink in the States yet got farther into the bottles. I wonder if it would be possible to set something up as an anniversary tradition, ten years in?