Reading Shakespeare Aloud in Class

Nov 11, 2021

Today we’re reading Shakespeare aloud in class,

and I can almost hear the anti-Elizabethan English deflector shields 

rising in the hearts and minds of my beloved students,

 

the silver steel of disregard, the hearty clang of disdain,

mental gaggings, churnings of the gut,

eyes rolling so hard they almost slip from their sockets.

 

But it isn’t long before what once was a 

groaning, grimacing ripple of teenage nausea 

swells to a giddy symphony of students

 

reading their assigned roles in silly accents:

an Iago from Charleston, a Claudius from Queens,

even the surprise debut of a Valley Girl Viola,

 

Cordelia shifts from Southern belle to broken robot,

and a Cockney Caliban competes

with a football player’s falsetto in his heart-wrenching Juliet.

 

But somehow, after a short while,

the Puck played by the Kennedys 

and the Witches of Jersey Shore

 

seem to fade from view, slipping into the wings,

preparing this world of a stage

for the pageantry of real players,

 

the ones I’ve longed to hear,

my glorious chorus of classes,

the dramatis personae of students 

 

contributing their lines to the powerful play of life,

reading their part in my classroom with courage and conviction,

sliding beautifully into their own voices,

 

bravely confronting the pentameter,

sounding out each syllable with care,

aiming to stay true to character, 

 

and I could not be more proud,

prouder even than the Bard himself,

as I stand and watch my players fill the globe.

Matthew Huff teaches literature and philosophy at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, GA where he reads Shakespeare aloud in class (among other things). He is married to his wife Kristen, and together they have three daughters.

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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