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Shakespeare play-reading activity during August 2017 & Macbeth’s Soliloquies

For six weeks or so in July / August, we tried to persuade you to try out play-reading using our online edition of Shakespeare’s plays. A couple of weeks ago, at the end of August, we ran a hasty analysis to get a feel for what activity you’d undertaken during that month. Now we’ve had a bit more time to undertake a more rigorous analysis, we’ve got a better understanding of what went on, we’re updating our findings.

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The bottom line is that we seem to have three or four organisations committed to trying our Shakespeare play-reading seriously. More on this below. Our own hopes were to have five or six organisations starting up play-reading. This may not seem very ambitious, but it’s usual for new software to have a few hiccups when users who haven’t been involved with the development start using it. We’re bound to find a few difficulties which need support and correction and we’d prefer to do that with a few organisations than many. Once everything is working well, we can focus on rolling it out to a wider user base.

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So, ideally we’re looking for a further 2 or 3 organisations who would like to try out Shakespeare play-reading. If you might like to be a part of that, we suggest you ask to join our closed FB group Support for Playreading and Production. That will increasingly be focused on helping people who are using our edition for play production or for play-reading so you will get help from us and your peers with using our edition.

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Detailed analyses of web-site traffic can be fascinating for those running the web-site, and rather  boring for the rest of the world, so if  you’ve had enough about play-reading statistics and want to get back to play-readingf, have a look at Macbeth‘s soliloquies; dark and even terrifying explorations of the human soul. You’ll find it at:

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Let’s Explore: Macbeth’s Soliloquies

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If your appetite for analysis of our play-reading activity isn’t completely exhausted, you can carry on with the more detailed analysis here. First, you should note that the numbers are not identical to our previous analysis for two main reasons: here we’re dealing with the calendar month of August; and secondly, we’ve refined our analysis to present a more accurate picture.

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So here’s a table of the to 12 (or so) locations where play-reading activity took place in August. (If you can’t read it, click on the ‘+’ sign in the toolbar at the bottom of the page, to zoom in):

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Playreading-by-location

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Now there’s some interesting things to say based on this table which shows the number of page-reads (each equivalent to a scene of a play) of Shakespeare’s scripts by location (for the top 25 locations)

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If my sums are right, using the totals at the bottom of the table, there were 199.5 man hours of reading Shakespeare during the month. With an average of  nearly 2 minutes per page-read, it seems as if people are actually reading these pages. This demonstrates that there’s a fair amount of interest in play-reading Shakespeare.

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Most of that interest is in the US.  If we take the top 15 locations (those with more than 12 pagereads),all but three of them (Glasgow, London, and Peebles) are in the US. with strong representation from small towns in North and South Carolina and Virginia, as well as larger cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco (neither of these last two in the top 25 locations).

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In the US, there is extraordinary interest in Romeo and Juliet. Over 95% of page views were for Romeo and Juliet. Admittedly, it’s a very good play, but why are the other 12 or so plays we’ve published being ignored? It certainly is the play most likely to appeal to the young, bot at school, and maybe at University, so perhaps it’s on some curriculum for study this year? If anyone knows, please let us know by leaving a comment after this post, or by making a post on our closed FB group Support for Playreading and Production.

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There is some activity which goes wider than Romeo and Juliet:

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A University study group in Glasgow have been play-reading King Lear; The Tempest; and Hamlet, as well as  Romeo and JulieT.

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A community theatre group are exploring play-reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in  conjunction with a production of the same play. We have been surprised to find that various groups are using our edition for productions as well as play-readinngs which we thought might take some time before being accepted.

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A play-reading group in California are looking into adding a Shakespeare play-reading group alongside their existng non-Shakespeare playreading activities.

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All in all, we’re encouraged by the level of interest being shown, though we hope we can expand it out beyond Romeo and Juliet.

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For us, the key  next step, is to get around half-a-dozen groups using the web-site regualarly for play-readings or prodcutions, and being willing to actively engage with us and their peers through the closed FB group Support for Playreading and Production. If we can achieve that, we will have a sound basis for making our edition a key edition for play reading and prodcution.

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But now, let’s get back to playreading with:

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Let’s Explore: Macbeth’s Soliloquies

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Before you go, we re-start play-reading in September, for our fourth year, and we’re hoping some other groups around the world will join us play-reading Macbeth or some other play. You can find out more about this initiative by looking at our checklist of activities to prepare for the play-reading:
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Let’s play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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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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