Shakespeare: “... for all time...” Shakespeare in his time - and for ours... "He was not of an age but for all time..." [Ben Jonson, Shakespeare First Folio, 1623]
Thank you for your interest in accessing our site. The courses have been operating under my tutorship for over twenty years, originally under the auspices of Warwick University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning but in recent years, when the University withdrew all funding from such courses, privately.
My main aim is to approach the plays in an academically serious way but hopefully without being stuffy – there is certainly plenty of laughter as well as serious discussion in most sessions, I think.
The group has a very wide range in terms of academic background with some members with post-graduate qualifications and who have many years of experience of seeing and reading Shakespeare – more than I have, in fact – but others with very little so I try to start with the assumption that members will not be familiar with the play under discussion.
We start at the beginning of Act I Scene 1 and work our way through the play pausing regularly for me to explain any difficulties with the text and to raise other matters of interest. I tend to leave the reading aloud to the members but there is no pressure to read if members are not comfortable with it and there is usually someone who will choose to ‘pass’ when it would normally be their turn – and there is never any shortage of willing readers...! However, we are not primarily a play reading group and the quality of reading varies considerably.
As well as trying to show how the plays very often have things to say that are still very relevant to our own time I also try to look at the plays with reference to the time in which they were written and so I tend to distribute handouts fairly regularly to put aspects of the plays into historical and cultural context. You will be able to see some of this material by looking under individual pay titles given in the drop-down menu under ‘More’
However, all you would need to bring to our sessions is a copy of the text. I recommend that members do not use a Complete Works but single editions of the plays. Complete Works are usually printed in minute fonts and without line numbers which makes cross-referencing difficult. Several members use the Penguin editions but these – though popular with RSC actors – have notes at the back which are not convenient for speedy reference. I also recommend that members choose an edition that has numbered lines for convenient cross-referencing. The Arden edition (Third Series, where available) is perhaps the most scholarly edition but the New Cambridge and Oxford editions are also very good. All of these have notes at the bottom of the page and are therefore easy to use for reference purposes. I would not recommend the Cambridge Schools Shakespeare which is primarily for practical work in the Drama Studio. Personally, I tend to use the New Cambridge although I refer to other editions when preparing.
Some members like to make notes as matters are discussed and in that case you would need writing materials and a note pad but many do not take notes. Also – and very rarely – members like to set themselves an intellectual exercise by writing on some aspect of the play that interests them but most are glad not to have the pressure of essay writing. This was always something of a bête noire when we operated under the auspices of the University. However, I am happy to read such essays and offer feedback.
We usually break for coffee & cake or scones etc. from the excellent café at the Friends at about 11.00 and we resume between 10-15 minutes later. Some members choose to stay on for lunch at the café after we have finished for the day.
The fee for the 10-week courses (autumn and spring terms) is currently £65.00 and for the 5-week summer term £35.00. Most members choose to pay by cheque at the first meeting of term (cheques payable to ‘L. C. Green’) but several choose to pay in cash in which case I issue a receipt. Given the current ‘squeeze’ on incomes, I have also introduced the option to pay the fee in instalments in any way convenient to the individual (post-dated cheques, weekly, monthly etc.).
Normally in autumn and spring terms we take a half-term break which usually matches the Warwickshire schools’ half term but the short 5-week summer term has no break.