2014 was William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, and to celebrate, English chair Fred Daly challenged the entire D-E community to read all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays within the year. Sign-ups for the Shakespeare Challenge were in December 2013, and participants had from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014 to complete the plays. While 20 had signed up – 13 students, five faculty members and two alumni – only one of the students was able to conquer them all.
“Prior to the challenge, the only Shakespeare I had read was Richard III, which I had immediately fallen in love with,” said winner Noah Goldmann ‘17. “Not only is it a great play to read, but I also saw an amazing production of it (Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, [which is] really great). So when Mr. Daly proposed the Challenge, I was excited to sate my appetite for Shakespeare.”
To keep track of the Challenge progress, Mr. Daly explained, “We were on the honor system. I made a Google Doc with a box for each participant listing all the plays. People highlighted each title as they finished it.”
As for the winner’s prize, Noah received copy of The Shakespeare Encyclopedia, which is, according to Mr. Daly, “a one-volume work with all sorts of cool entries about the plays, the actors in Shakespeare’s company, other playwrights from the era, and just about anything else you can imagine.”
“I had an amazing time, too,” said Noah of his experience. “I saw a lot of really cool productions, and read a lot of great plays. All in all, I’m really happy I did it! It was a challenge, but one that I enjoyed thoroughly.”
Inspired by Noah and the Shakespeare Challenge? There’s another one taking place this year for the 70th anniversary of the birth of August Wilson, an African-American playwright “who wrote one play set in each decade of the 20th century. So it’s only ten plays, rather than 37,” said Mr. Daly. “There’s a poster about his work on the bulletin board next to K108.”