Get Involved: Exploring in Isolation!

Beyond Shakespeare Exploring Sessions

We’re running evening sessions exploring early drama and are looking for participants. Each weekday evening we’ll meet on zoom, read through a play, with stops and starts to discuss and figure out how the play works. The sessions will be recorded and shared online for lovers of drama and to keep us sane in these times of isolation. Mostly the latter.

There are lots of sessions on offer each week – there is a slow burn deep dive session at 2pm (UK time BST) for 2.15pm of a single play/s over a week. The evening session starts from 7.15pm (UK time BST) with a start of recording at 7.30pm – these tend to be a single session on a short play, though these may start to spread out as we go on. There are also weekend sessions coming online now.

The recording will be then released as soon after the session complete – and video and eventually as tidied up audio.

It’s all very relaxed, we’re a very holistic set up, and we’re open to all. There’s no casting as such – anyone is welcome to join. Though you don’t need to be a professional actor, we are looking for people who can give a reasonably clear reading.

Sign up begins mid-week, with a rough schedule produced on Saturdays, and ‘casting’ on Sundays.

Scripts will be available in a dropbox in advance, with back up plays with smaller casts for drop outs.

Anyone signed up will get invites to each session, as both understudies in case of drop out and commentators when the reading pauses – though non active participants will be asked to mute audio and video unless called by the moderator to speak.

Contact us with the form below if you’d like to act, or if you have expertise early or early modern texts and history and would like to help.

SIGN UP FORM FOR THE WEEK Monday 5th October:


Before all the boring stuff – here’s the most important thing. Have fun. Be positive. Be supportive. I’m not doing this because I urgently need to explore these plays, but because I want to connect with people and generally distract us from the world outside. So, if you’re stressed or worried about anything regarding this process – because meeting new people and reading stuff aloud can be scary in advance, let me know and step away. No worries.

Anyway, lets get to business.

1. Sign up to   – it only takes a moment. Don’t pay for a plan or anything, just sign up.

2. Wear headphones! This helps keep the audio nice and clear.

3. Find a nice cosy space with good internet connection. Try to be in a room with soft furnishings and little echo. Get yourself some snacks, a drink – make sure you mute your mic when you enjoy these things.

4. Wait for the link to be emailed (approx 1 hour in advance) and be ready to join us ready to start from 2pm or 7.15pm. House keeping will occur as we gather and we’ll start when everyone is online.

5. Robert Crighton will be moderating, reading stage directions and jumping in with helpful points and questions for the room. Don’t jump in unless there’s a clear signal to do so, though a reader can stop their performance to ask a question because they have the floor. If you’re not performing or not due to speak for a while, muting your microphone is good. As moderator I’ll try to keep things moving along, light and fun, and we’ll find a rhythm for discussion as we go.

6. Scripts – there will be typos – part of the point of this exercise is to begin the process of producing a proper production further down the line, which means creating an editable and rehearse-with-able version for the future. I’ve sourced reasonably good versions, but there will be errors, editorial disagreements and just stupid find and replace cock ups buried. However, the errors should at least be nice and clear and changable – so we have a fighting chance.

7. Do not mention Shakespeare. We don’t have anything against Shakespeare, but we don’t do Shakespeare. You really don’t need to mention his name, and if you do the imaginary duck will be summoned. And you don’t want that to happen.

8. Pronunciation – there are always party quirks with how to say early modern text – but basically just go for it. Yes they’ll be confusions due to bursts of Latin, typos that look really convincing as an actual word, weird names, unrevised conjurations of original spelling, rhymes that don’t rhyme any more, and more typos. Your individual accent will also throw up interesting variations, and we’re very interested in people following their own voice and not assuming RP is the way to go. The basic rule of thumb is say what you see, and we can discuss conventions of speech as we go.

9. Internet – if you have good broadband, you can keep your video feed on – but if you have connectivity issues switch to audio only. If you are dropping out we may have to ask another reader to step in, sorry in advance if that happens.

10. Recording – this will be shared as a video on YouTube, and maybe upcycled later as audio on the podcast. It’s vital for the future of the performance of these plays that others can learn from our fuck ups, triumphs, and utter confusions. The productions that follow us will be better for the work we do.

11. Sign up for future readings – each week there is a sign up sheet, choose the sessions you want to do, Robert will then fit plays to cast available and email casting by the weekend prior.

See you sometime this week. Stay healthy and keep in touch if there’s anything you need.

All the best,

Robert Crighton