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Shakespeare with Hearing Aids: Some Old-timers Revisit the Bard

Nick Weber

Pages: 204
ISBN: 978-145753-036-4
List Price: 17.00
Available: July 2014
Edition: Perfectbound

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When a former Jesuit priest and retired English literature teacher gathers a group of retirees to explore the works of Shakespeare, pure magic happens. Although the Bard’s plays were written four centuries ago, they still resonate today, providing a literary adventure as the old-timers tackle the dynamics of plot, language, characters and playwriting technique. Despite their walkers, hearing and vision impairments, and foreign accents, Shakespeare’s insightful words and theatricality allow group members to come together and recognize themselves as actors and friends. Shakespeare with Hearing Aids: Some Old-Timers Revisit the Bard follows the stories of at least fifty retirees reacting to more than fifteen of the plays, from introducing characters in Hamlet to the struggles of young love in Romeo and Juliet as compared to the love stories of the elders, and the manipulation seen in Richard III and Othello. Perhaps most poignant is their response to King Lear’s dementia, which mirrors the retirees’ own experiences living in the presence of Alzheimer’s, so they easily recognize Lear’s fears of loneliness and isolation. The personal stories and personalities of the old timers manage to endorse Shakespeare’s most profound words and characters.

Nick Weber did graduate work in theology and theater after years of teaching English literature and theater arts, becoming ordained as a Jesuit priest. In 1971 he founded The Royal Lichtenstein Circus, a poetry theatrical hybrid, and presented morality tales and circus acts for more than twenty years as his official ministry. Nick developed a one-man performance piece, “Shakespeare, Just for Fun!” as a layman, and that piece renewed his interest in the playwright. He began reading Shakespeare’s works with groups of retirees in Milwaukee after retiring yet again from teaching theater arts and English literature. This latest book celebrates that five-year project, known as Shakespeare Just for Fun! Seniors Sharing Shakespeare.