Shakespeare’s anniversary brings Headingley together

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All the world’s a stage - and that includes Headingley. William Shakespeare’s work was brought to life for World Book Night at Headingley library.

Trio Literati, a words and music performance group from Headingley, along with musician Helen Atkinson, entertained people with readings of the Bard’s works on the English playwright’s 450th birthday.

The group consists of actress, script writer and director Jane Oakshott, former Leeds University Historical Musicology professor Richard Ratsall and broadcaster and voice-over specialist Maggie Mash - whose voice is recognisable from her work as a continuity announcer at Yorkshire Television.

The group moved through several key Shakespearian themes, including the seasons of life and love, music and love betrayed.

Trio Literati member Jane Oakshott, of Headingley, said: “We love doing the performances and it shows you how Shakespeare can bring the people of a community together. It was so good to see such a large amount of people in a local library.”

A selection of extracts from Shakespeare’s sonnets, poems and plays were read authentically by the trio, woven between narration where necessary, and all with a backdrop of the 
musical interludes which featured a lute accompanied by singing.

Resident Margaret Gurney attended the performance, and said she felt like she was “learning all the way through it”. Mrs Gurney, 63, of Headingley, said: “I really enjoyed it and the music was so nice as well, it was like an added bonus. I think it’s great to support our local artistic people at these sort of events.”

The group told the audience that people often thought there was a lack of rhyming in Shakespeare’s work but in-fact the emphasis on some words 
has changed over time, along with dialect and language as a whole.

Mr Ratsall performed a reading of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Anne Hathaway in the way Shakespeare himself would have, using an authentic Elizabethan English accent.

Audience member Jem Dobbs, 57, of Headingley, said: “I thought it was terrific. It was a great idea to make use of the library too and the performances were riveting.”

Trio Literati have been performing in Headingley since 2003 and appeared at the New Headingley Club on March 15, staging a tribute to Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as part of Headingley Literature Festival 2014. They will be performing again in Headingley with What? An Idea! as part of Headingley Festival of Ideas at HEART (Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre) on May 16.

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