Reading Shakespeare Part III: A World of Pure Imagination I As You Like It

Did you ever play dress-up or pretend as a kid? Do you remember those magical days of slaying dragons and gallivanting around with your sidekick? It was loads of fun living in imaginary world as a child. And it’s a lot of fun visiting one as an adult. Think about the last time you went to see a play, or entertained a silly ‘what if?’ joke with a group of friends. You, my friends, have been on a recent trip to imagination land. The fun of visiting the imagination station is part of the lure of reading Shakespeare aloud.


We all have moments when we long for the care-free days of playing pretend. And we all want an escape from our day to day every now and again. Shakespeare’s plays allow us to do just that. Reading them aloud especially so, as then we are participating in the action. When we read, we get drawn into the story and the action-and out of ourselves. Reading aloud adds to this because it produces a kind of ‘reader’s theatre’ effect. We are invited to really engage with what we’re reading by enlisting our voice, posture, movement. In other words, we are being invited to play pretend.


And we all know how much fun it is to play pretend. We all love to be king for a day, to take the part of a villain for a change, or to make people laugh by playing the fool. We love to step into the imaginary worlds of Shakespeare’s plays and add our own voice as a part of the action. It’s a little magical time of gallivanting around and playing pretend; and it’s even more fun than it was when you were a kid.

Author Catherine Spence

A Shakespeare-loving, Toronto-based bibliophile. Loves music, art, history, classical texts, languages, food, and performance. Dislikes frozen peas. Attended Regent's University London.

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