Wellesley Shakespeare Society Brings the Bard's Work to Campus—All of It, Aloud—in One Day

March 3, 2014

From noon on Friday, February 28, through noon on Saturday, March 1, members of the Wellesley Shakespeare Society (often referred to as “Shakers”) led friends and interested visitors through reading the complete works of the Bard out loud, for a grand total of 39 plays and 154 sonnets. Participants are divided into different groups located in separate rooms, each charged with reading a different play or set of sonnets. Sometimes, participants perform a single role for the duration of the play, and other times, roles are shared from person to person to allow everyone a chance to try the part. Total time for this year's reading: 23 hours, 47 minutes, and 43 seconds.

Mara Palma ’15, the president of Shakespeare Society, shared what the experience is like. “Because we are trying to get through all of Shakespeare's written works, often a lot of fast reading happens and as the night gets later, the words and the jokes get funnier as everyone gets more tired... but more laughter ensues!”

Laughter, as well as copious amounts of coffee, snacks, and curious passers-by, are staples of this treasured young tradition, organized by vice president Lily Xie '16. Typically, the readings take place in the Shakespeare House, but this year Shakers also visited locations across campus like the Leaky Beaker in the Science Center.

In 2010, NPR’s Scott Simon visited campus to join in the fun, read a few lines, and report for Weekend Edition.

“This was my third 24 Hour Shakes and every year I am amazed at how quickly the sun rises, because I will have a moment where I look outside the window when it is still dark and then I seem to blink and the sun is peeking above the horizon,” said Palma.

If you missed 24 Hour Shakes, or haven’t had your fill of Shakespeare on campus, stay tuned for Julius Caesar directed by Madeline Furlong ’14 to be performed later this spring.