2020 has been remarkable for many reasons. Here in Stratford-upon-Avon the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic has meant that most of the town’s Shakespearian activities have been limited, often to just online events. The Shakespeare Club is one of the town’s least-known institutions, but it is the oldest, and its committee have been making efforts to keep its monthly meetings going.
Back in October I wrote about the first of our virtual meetings, and we are about to launch the third. This meeting will be really special as it takes the form of a recording of a discussion between our current President, Sir Stanley Wells, and his friend and colleague Rev Dr Paul Edmondson, who answer questions submitted in advance by our members. Inevitably, perhaps, given his long career, Sir Stanley has been the Shakespeare Club’s President before but he is the first to now hold the post three times. I’ve already heard the recording and found it a fascinating view of Shakespeare’s works by the person who, more than anyone alive today, has the deepest insights into them. Sir Stanley wears his immense knowledge lightly and the discussion is warm, approachable and on occasion amusing. I do hope people will take advantage of this opportunity to hear him speak in such a personal way.
While we all regret the temporary loss of the live event, delivering meetings virtually is proving to have some benefits. The Shakespeare Club’s normal meetings are only available to those able to get into Stratford on Tuesday evenings. Now people can listen at a time that suits them. While we would normally charge for our sessions, we are offering these first sessions to anyone who signs up to our free mailing list. Most interestingly, since October people from around the world have joined the list, and we are keen to encourage individuals and Shakespeare Clubs to join our free list. And this is extremely appropriate: in 1824 the Shakespeare Club was set up by locals, for locals, but over the two hundred years since it was formed, it has contributed significantly to the world-wide celebration of Shakespeare with Stratford-upon-Avon as the centre. If, of course, you would like to join the Club you will be more than welcome to do so and full information is on the website http://www.stratfordshakespeareclub.org/.
To be put on the mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org and on Tuesday 8 December we’ll send you an email containing the link you need to access the meeting. This will remain live for several days. We look forward to hearing from you and we hope you will enjoy the meeting.