Enjoying the Bard of Avon with a dedicated band of Perth followers

Peter Medd, Elaine Houlton, Dian Drew and Frances Dharmalingam

The city might be buzzing with traffic outside but a different world awaits inside Citiplace in Perth Railway Station where members of the Shakespeare Club of WA are doing what they love best, revelling in one of Shakespeare’s works and taking part in various activities.

The Shakespeare Club of WA was founded in 1930, with the idea that people with a common interest in fine literature could get together to explore and enjoy the works of great writers, said club president Frances Dharmalingam.

“Clearly, it was named in honour of the greatest writer of the English language, so naturally his works feature large in the club’s activities, but we also look at the best drama and poetry from the Ancient Greeks to modern times,” she said. 

“The club has about 30 members and we meet at 2pm on the third Saturday of each month, at Citiplace. At a typical meeting we might read and discuss a Shakespeare play, entertain a guest speaker, act short scenes in groups, study the special features of Elizabethan poetry, analyse in depth several long speeches from a play, or watch parts of a film relevant to our reading.

“On occasion, we might present a fully-rehearsed short play, or chosen scenes. In other words, we have a variety of activities through the year, with the main focus on Shakespeare, but allowing time for related interests.

“We place strong emphasis on the written word, as a vital part of our understanding and interpreting literature. Apart from our regular meetings we arrange group visits to live theatre shows, and in summer enjoy a social get-together.

“Our members are brought together by a love of literature and a desire to extend and share our knowledge of and pleasure in good writing. We are so often struck by the universal truths of human nature to be found in Shakespeare’s plays, the good and the bad, the humorous and the tragic, and we delight in the brilliance of the language in which they are expressed.

“We derive great pleasure from group discussion and our social mingling over afternoon tea. Those of us who have been part of the club for some time have formed lasting friendships.

“We are proud of the fact that the Shakespeare Club has functioned continually since its beginnings, and is one of the oldest literary societies in WA. In Victoria, the Melbourne Shakespeare Society was founded in the late 19th century.

“We regularly exchange newsletters. Our Shakespeare Club is a friend of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon Avon, giving us a link to the very heart of Shakespeare Land. Many of us subscribe to various blogs and websites from all over the world, of which there are hundreds.

“Internet sources give useful information of current theatrical activity and academic study from all over the world, and, of course, there are innumerable books to refer to,” Frances said. 

“We also have our own club library, including DVDs and CDs of famous productions which our members can borrow.

“Although we take our studies quite seriously, we have a great deal of fun at our meetings and find real satisfaction in exploring Shakespeare with kindred spirits.”

Anyone interested in joining the Shakespeare Club of WA should contact Peter on 0407 441 675.