By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Grafton – When one thinks of William Shakespeare, perhaps his classic works, such as “King Lear” or “Macbeth,” come to mind. Or perhaps one of the many great actors, such as Richard Burton or Sir Laurence Olivier, who played such memorable roles. Or perhaps one remembers studying a play in high school, such as “Romeo and Juliet.” Chances are though one does not think of Grafton when one thinks of Shakespeare. Unless one happens to be a member of the Shakespeare Club of Grafton (SCoG), a group of approximately 20 men and women, who love anything and everything about the Bard.
According to Lauren Sheridan, the current president, the club was started in 1987 by Dr. Robert Cook and his wife Margaret, who were inspired to model the Grafton club after an existing Worcester club.
SCoG meets biweekly from mid-September to mid-May, on Monday evenings at the Brigham Hill Community Barn, 37 Wheeler Road. During the course of each year, the club chooses several plays to read aloud during the meetings. A volunteer producer researches a play, then offers some background information at the beginning of the reading. A casting director assigns parts to the other members who then read the play’s lines out loud during the first part of each meeting. No memorizing or acting is required although many members often like to dress in period clothing. A typical play takes three or four meetings to complete, depending on its length. The members then spend the second half of the meeting discussing the nuances and meanings of the play and the language Shakespeare uses.
Although Shakespeare lived in the 1500s, his words are still as relevant today, Sheridan said, as they were back then.
“His characters are truly timeless and universal,” she said. “The core characteristics, interactions, desires and interests, that doesn’t change that much over time.”
“It’s important to remember that he was a working playwright during his time,” she added. “He was also very bawdy and very funny.”
While the club does have an academic bent, not every member is a scholar. Members of the club come from all backgrounds, ranging from business people to healthcare professionals to teachers.
“We come from all walks of life. We share the love of the beauty of Shakespeare’s language,” Sheridan noted.
“We have some interesting and lively debates,” she added. “It’s so much fun.”
The club currently has approximately 20 people, men and women, ages 35-87, as well as one high school student.
One need not be particularly well-versed in Shakespeare, Sheridan said, to join the group, but simply the desire to learn more about him and his works.
“Our members are amazing – very sharp, active and vibrant,” she said. “It’s a great place for retirees; it helps to keep them socially active. We are always helping each other to learn more.”
The club also holds movie nights throughout the year, which helps to enhance their readings, Sheridan said, and give them different perspectives.
“We also try to attend a play in Lenox at Shakespeare & Company,” she added. “It’s fun to attend together and discuss it on the way home.”
There is a $20 annual membership fee, which helps to cover the club’s operating expenses.
“We’d like to encourage anyone interested to come to a meeting,” Sheridan said. “We think they will find it a lot of fun.”
For more information, visit graftonshakespeare.org or the club’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Shakespeare-Club-of-Grafton.