Stig Abell: ‘The pleasure of reading Shakespeare trumps watching his plays’

By Stig Abell for the Independent, 17 March 2016

This is something of a confession: I have only ever seen one performance of Shakespeare in the theatre. A startling omission for somebody set, in April, to edit the Times Literary Supplement, but one that should not – I hope – confirm me as a bearded barbarian at the gates of that fine institution.

There is no question that I love Shakespeare. I have spent many hours of my adult life reading and re-reading him. I once wrote a piece for the Evening Standard about tackling the Complete Works on the daily commute. I got through all 38 plays (yes, even Love’s Labour’s Lost) in a six-month period, finding an ever-pleasant refuge from the oppressions of the chuntering tube and noisome passengers that surrounded me.

Indeed, it is my thesis that reading and quiet reflection is the best way of experiencing the plays of William Shakespeare. But before I get to that, let me go back to my trip to Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre in the winter of 1995.

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