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Play-reading of our Shakespeare edition is taking off

For the past five or six weeks, I’ve been trying to persuade you all to play-read Shakespeare’s plays using our edition. Are any of your doing that? The short answer is yes, a surprising number of you are starting to play-read. I’ve done some analysis of web-site traffic over the last 30 days or so, and there’s a table at the end of this post which summarizes the activity numerically. In twelve countries, you’ve been reading 17 plays in 124 locations, if the analysis is accurate, and I have tried to make it err on the side of caution.

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Numbers can be rather boring, so they have been relegated to the end of this post, the rest of which will consist mostly of words.

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Where are people play-reading?

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First, the countries, some of which are surprising. In short order they are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, India, Ireland, Philippines, Poland, Switzerland, UK, US There’s a few surprises there, Who would have imagined Shakespeare play-reading in the Philippines, or in Finland or Brazil?

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Of course, some of those countries generate more traffic than others, so I’ve only analysed the three busiest countries in more detail. These are Canada, UK, and US, with the US generating visits from more locations (44% of the total) and significantly more page views (72% of the total).

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What are the locations in the US where these play-readings are taking place? There are those you might expect (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York,  San Francisco, Seattle) but there are other, much more Shakespeare-sounding  locations like Winston-Salem, Mount Airy, and Saint Louis; and Portland, Peekskill, and Fairfax.

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Not all US states are represented, and there seems to be over-representation from North and South Carolina. Most states with play-reading going on are on the East or West coasts. I was surprised and pleased to discover how many small towns were play-reading. This also seems to be true in Canada. My own experience of play-reading was in a small, Scottish Borders town. Perhaps play-reading and production helps bind small communities together.

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How much are people reading?

The play-reading activity in most countries is quite low – more of an exploration than actually reading, averaging perhaps two page views per location.  Averages can be misleading, and the UK average hides some serious explorations via playreading (excluding Edinburgh, which tends to mess up the statistics). But Canada and the US stand out with much more serious exploration, Canada averaging around 5 page views  per location, and the US averaging nearly 7 page views per location. That’s the equivalent of each player reading seven scenes of Shakespeare.

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I’ve explored the US page views in more detail, and it turns out that most of this play-reading activity is for Romeo and Juliet, with quite a few locations running play-reading sessions on a weekly basis, exploring the play.  I’ve had a comment from someone in Greensboro, North Carolina, who is a high-school teacher and a director at a local theatre, and she is using the web-site for classroom readings of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet this school year, and plans to use it for rehearsals of her production of Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps others are doing the same.

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Conclusions:

We’re surprised at all the activity that’s going on, not least because we asked you to play-read Macbeth,  and most of the actibity has been exploring Romeo and Juliet! 🙂

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We’re pleased at how much our edition is being used for what it is intended – to play-read Shakespeare’s plays, and, it seems, for productions as well.

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There does seem to be a  market for Shakespeare play-reading online. We just need to organise ourselves (you and us) to meet that need.

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Of course, it’s early days. You are showing a willingness to explore Shakespeare using our edition for play-reading and production. If that works out, you may use it more regularly. There are a few green shots, which watering and TLC may turn into healthy plants.

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To help give that TLC, we have launched a Facebook Support for Playreading & Productions page, where we hope you will give us feedback on what you’re using the web-site for, and to ask for help with problems you come up with. We’ll be trying to help there, and we hope your peers who are also using the web-site will offer their help as well.

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Please let us know what you’re using the web-site for; the problems you’re having, and what it’s good for. You can leave a comment after this post; or you can add a post to the Facebook Support for Playreading & Productions page, or if there’s something you want to say which you don’t want to share with others, you can ‘message’ me on Facebook.

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If you haven’t yet organised a Shakespeare play-reading, do join in the party and the fun!. Probably the best starting point is our Countdown to Playreading which lists 10 tasks you need to do to get going with a play-reading group. Just click on ‘Read more’ to get the detail of any task that interests you. You should also join our  Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group.

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Let’s Play!!!!.
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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

To find out what Players-Shakespeare.com is all about, check out What we do.

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If you are using, or thinking of using, Players-Shakespeare.com’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays for production rehearsals or play-reading, why don’t you ask to become a member of our Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group?

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If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.

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Here’s the detailed analysis of activity we promised you as a table of numbers:

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Number of Cities / Towns where play-reading took place by playOther CountriesCanadaUKUSTotal
A Midsummer Night's Dream1247
All's Well That Ends Well11
Anthony & Cleopatra415
As You Like It44
Comedy of Errors11
Hamlet114419
Henry IV Part 1123
King John11
Love's Labour's Lost22
Macbeth219315
The Merchant of Venice21238
The Merry Wives of Windsor22
Romeo and Juliet7293149
The Taming of the Shrew112
The Tempest
112
Twelfth Night
415
Totals:1455354126
Script pageviews by country28
2383346480

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