Brookdale Community College held its annual tribute to Shakespeare on April 22 with students, alumni, faculty, retired Brookdalians, and community members reading famous, as well as infamous, scenes from The Bard’s plays.
Held as a way to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, Jim Cody, professor in the English department at Brookdale, was able to bring back the read-a-thon after having to cancel the event last year due to the shut-down of campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was with unbound delight for me and others to see it return this spring,” Cody said. He has been hosting the Shakespeare Birthday Read-a-thon since 2010 as a way to bring together Shakespeare fans and have fun.
“What inspired me to hold it every spring was that I knew it held the potential to bring together a wide range of the campus community, and it has never failed to do that,” said Cody. “From students, current and former, faculty, staff, administrators, the public, seniors, children, teens, all genders and races, it has been an all-inclusive event bringing smiles, laughter, fond memories, and even some profound teaching and learning moments to all of us.”
Dorothy Speers, a Brookdale student who will graduate with her Associate Degree in Mathematics this May, was one of the current students who participated in the read-a-thon. “I took Professor Cody’s Shakespeare class a few semesters ago and absolutely loved it,” she said. When Cody asked her if she would read as Juliet in the famous balcony scene, Speers said, “I thought it was such an honor, I couldn’t say no.”
In addition to bringing students, alumni, and community members together, Cody said the event also helps those who might shy away from The Bard’s works. “Having fun with Shakespeare, in this way, gets students to get over their ‘Shakes-Fear,’” he explained.
“Professor Cody rallies current students, alumni, faculty, and staff to shake off any anxiety they may have about the Bard’s work and just have fun reading it out loud,” said Meg Natter, dean of the Humanities Institute at Brookdale. “There is no memorization, no grading, it’s all about enjoying and sharing the language, famous scenes, and themes that are still relevant today,” she said.
The fun was felt in Brookdale’s Performing Arts Center, where the celebration was held, and was shared online as the event was also live streamed for the first time. “The feedback has been so favorable,” Cody said about the new format. “Many stated it was the best one we’ve ever had. I think that was partly due to the pent-up release we all needed from how COVID isolated us from each other and kept us from the joy and rewards of participating in these kinds of public events,” he said.
To watch the performances, please click here.
For more information about the literature classes and English major at Brookdale Community College, please visit brookdalecc.edu/english.
Photo, left to right: Danny Silva, current Brookdale student; Dorothy Speers, current Brookdale student; and Sophia Parolla, Brookdale alumna performing a scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.