This fall semester students and faculty at BYU-Idaho will take part in The Big Read by reading a chosen piece of literature together. It started a couple of years ago and happens most semesters. This time, the read will take on a unique path as they read Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” which will also be performed on the campus of BYU-Idaho this semester.
Quinn Grover, an English faculty member at BYU-Idaho, said the event is open to all, “We encourage everybody on campus to read a book together.”
This is the first time the school has read a play together, as well as the first time they have done Shakespeare.
“What we hope is that there will be a chance to learn from great literature,” Grover said.
In addition, many professors at BYU-Idaho are teaching “The Winter’s Tale” in conjunction with the play and The Big Read.
Amelia Bahr, the director of “The Winter’s Tale,” said it was selected for this effort more than a year and a half ago. It was only later the English Department chose to make the play this year’s “big read.” It’s the first time the event has been done this way.
“We’re really excited to be part of this whole endeavor,” Bahr said.
Shakespeare is well-known for being difficult to read and understand. However, Bahr said the language in Shakespeare is the same used in the King James Bible—using language well-known to most students and faculty at BYU-Idaho.
In an effort to overcome the hesitancy and intimidation that comes from reading Shakespeare, BYU-Idaho faculty will hold a pair of “Big Read Chats” in October and December to discuss the play. A professional writing class on campus is also putting together a guide for reading “The Winter’s Tale,” as well.
Overall, though, Grover and Bahr said the key to reading Shakespeare is simply to keep reading.
“You get something out of any version that you see out of it,” Bahr said. “I’ve been surprised at how much I see out of his other plays in this particular play.”
“The Winter’s Tale” was written between 1609-1611. The first three acts are considered a tragedy, followed by two acts of comedy. Overall, the play is considered a romance. It follows the story of two friends who are kings. They have a falling out, but after years they overcome their dispute.
The play will be held in the Snow Drama Theatre on the campus of BYU-Idaho Oct. 23-26 with matinee and evening shows on the 26. Performances then continue Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
Entry is $3 for BYU-Idaho students and employees and $6 otherwise. Tickets are available at the BYU-Idaho ticket office or online at http://www.tickets.byui.edu.An hour before the opening performance begins on Oct. 23, Bahr will speak about the experience of bringing the play to the stage. She will then give the same speech the next day, Oct. 24 at 11:30 a.m. in the Hinckley Chapel. You can visit the Big Read’s website at http://www.byui.edu/language-and-letters/big-read for more information on the program.