By: Claire O’Malley – Contributing Writer, Education
Editor’s note: The writer of this article is a member of the University of Dayton Shakespeare Club.
As education majors senior Malerie Schreiner and junior Annie Reilly took in their surroundings, they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. Men and women wore traditional medieval garb, shops filled with hand-crafted souvenirs lined their path, an ongoing game of Kubb (a game similar to horseshoes but with wooden pieces) took place in a patch of green grass and friends drank mead and ate a roasted turkey leg right from the bone. The two felt giddy and proud. Their hard work had teleported students from the University of Dayton back in time to a magical place.
A few months prior, Schreiner and Reilly collaborated to create Shakespeare Club, an organization intended to celebrate the life and works of William Shakespeare. The two were inspired after taking the Shakespeare course taught by English professor Elizabeth Mackay, Ph.D., who’s now one of the club’s advisors.
After seeking official approval from the university, the co-founders of Shakespeare Club set out to spread their enthusiasm for the British playwright on UD’s campus. Reilly and Schreiner wanted visiting the Renaissance Festival, a place where Shakespeare’s life is accessible to modern society, to become a club tradition.
Schreiner and Reilly decided to form this organization so students on UD’s campus could have the opportunity to learn more about one of the most canonized writers in the English-speaking language around the world.
“Shakespeare is certainly one of the greatest writers in terms of his plays, but also his poems,” Mackay said. “He wrote 38 plays. In addition to that, he wrote 100 or so sonnets and at least two or three narrative poems, which are much longer.”
“We wanted to create a club to make Shakespeare fun and accessible to all students,” Schreiner said, “and hopefully eliminate any intimidation people often feel when thinking about him.”
“I think upon hearing the words ‘Shakespeare Club,’ people shy away,” Reilly agreed. “It sounds pretty nerdy – let’s face it. However, I think once people realized that it is a club meant to be fun and laid back, they would be more inclined to join.”
In its first year, the organization took its members to the Renaissance Festival, hosted a movie night to watch “Shakespeare in Love,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes, and hosted a takeover at Milano’s to raise money for its next project: A Little Free Library.
A Little Free Library is a structure, usually an oversized birdhouse, filled with books. Anyone can take one or two books, as long as they donate one or two in their place. The club hopes to use A Little Free Library to increase its presence on campus and to cultivate students’ love for literature..
The final location of this project has yet to be determined, but Shakespeare Club is excited to have this project, and its overall organization, finally underway.
Schreiner and Reilly stressed that Shakespeare Club is open to people from all backgrounds and majors.
“Every major across the university needs to know how to analyze,” Mackay said, “but where do they get those skills taught?”
For the last big event this year, Shakespeare Club hopes to travel to Cincinnati for dinner and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s performance of “Taming of the Shrew” Saturday. To prequel this, the club will also host another movie night to watch “10 Things I Hate About You,” a modern adaption of the performance starring Heath Ledger.
For more information about UD’s Shakespeare Club or any of the club’s upcoming events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.