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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: September ::
Re: Shakespeare Reading Groups
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 552.  Wednesday, 15 Sept. 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 93 10:07:48 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0550  Q: Shakespeare Reading Groups
 
(2)     From:   Jon Enriquez <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 1993 18:00:31 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0550  Q: Shakespeare Reading Groups
 
(3)     From:   Cary M. Mazer <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Sep 93 9:33:59 EDT
        Subj:   B.E.S.S.
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 93 10:07:48 EDT
Subject: 4.0550  Q: Shakespeare Reading Groups
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0550  Q: Shakespeare Reading Groups
 
There's quite a lot about a reading group in the Joseph Crosby letters at the
Folger.  John Velz and I edited excerpts of this collection under the title
_"One Touch of Shakespeare"_ for the Folger Press.  I also did a little note on
the reading club for Shakespeare Newsletter long ago and would be happy to send
you a copy if you send my your surface/snail mail address.
 
Michael Bristol's book on Shakespeare in America has some interesting info on
the various American Shakespeare Societies, and I believe Georgianna Ziegler's
collection on Furness has as well if my memory is not completely wonky.
 
WARNING:  Bad joke follows.  The reference to surface/snail mail above reminds
me of a joke.  Junk mail, as we can surely all agree, is annoying.  People
often notice that the junk mail that comes in over a computer network is
really more annoying than that received in the surface mail.  The reason, of
course, is obvious:  The e-mail of the specious is far deadlier than the
snail.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jon Enriquez <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 1993 18:00:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 4.0550  Q: Shakespeare Reading Groups
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0550  Q: Shakespeare Reading Groups
 
My wife's grandmother is a long-time member of a Shakespeare reading group in
her small Oregon town.  The group (I don't have an exact name) is at least 70
years old.  The impression I get is that, whatever its origins, it is mostly a
social circle rather than a literary society; I don't believe that Grandmother
is or was ever much of an actress, although that could just be my wife talking.
 
If you would like to try to contact this group, drop me a note off-list and
we'll try to pursue it, either through Grandmother or some other source.
 
Jon Enriquez
The Graduate School
Georgetown University
ENRIQUEZJ@guvax     (Bitnet)

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      (Internet)
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary M. Mazer <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Sep 93 9:33:59 EDT
Subject:        B.E.S.S.
 
I too am interested in turn-of-the-century reading groups, especially the
one you mention, which was actually called the British EMPIRE Shakespeare
Society, no doubt to generate B.E.S.S. as its acronym.  In the late 1900s
and early 1910s, B.E.S.S. sponsored not only local amateur reading groups,
but public semi-staged script-in-hand readings in London.  These were
widely sought after acting professional gigs, and at the same time universally
generally resented by actors in the profession.  B.E.S.S. could secure the
services of the actors for next to nothing, because the actors hoped the
reading might lead to a real job with a prominent actor-manager who might
be considering doing the play.  Knowing this, the actor-managers would use
B.E.S.S. and exploit the actors for a free try-out of the material.
 
Someone else who would be interested in any and all material is Jonathan
Rose, in the History department of Drew University, and
President of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and
Publishing (SHARP).  Rose is working on working-class reading in late
Victorian and Edwardian Britain.  To my knowledge, he is not on e-mail, so
anyone with information to share can reach him by snail mail at Drew.
 
Cary M. Mazer
University of Pennsylvania
 

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