How often in our lives do we find ourselves too busy, too rushed, or too in our own heads to connect with other meaningful aspects of our lives? Or people, for that matter? For me, at least, the answer is shamefully frequent. It’s so easy in our modern world of rushed, media-based interactions to get too busy to slow down for some good old face-to-face quality time. We live in a fast paced world, but we still need to take time to get our feet back on the ground.
That’s where good old Willie Shakes comes in to save the day with a play to read. And, if you’re very lucky, some people to read it with. Reading plays aloud together helps us to reconnect and slow down. It gives us a break from the constant rush of the world we’re usually caught up in. And it helps us connect to one another; it fosters that much–needed human contact we all crave. And it can always be the catalyst for new friendships and lasting hobbies. Contact with others and socialization is good for all of us, and we need the support and companionship of other human beings to help us stay grounded. Reading together, especially plays, helps us to let go of the too busy world we’re immersed in and find elements of play and connection that are so vital for our health.
Ever think of reading Shakespeare as a health benefit? Well, you should consider it in the future. Reading aloud sharpens our focus, increases vocabulary, promotes greater comprehension, provides an opportunity to play, challenges our use of intonation, and improves listening and reading skills. On top of that, there are links being made to mental health benefits (see Johnathan Bate of Warwick University). And the socialization we get from reading together as a group are all well-told (if you need an extra push – sometimes there are cookies).
So reading aloud has benefits, reading with others has benefits. Next week, we’ll take a look at why Shakespeare specifically has benefits. In the meantime, I’d invite you to do a trial; read some Shakespeare works aloud alone, or with others. Notice the effect it has on your emotions, mood, and those of the others around you. I’ll be doing the same.