Book Well is “evocative”.
That is the conclusion that I have come to after being immersed in the Get Into Reading training sessions held at the State Library of Victoria last week.
There are so many other descriptions I could offer telling you what I think it is and what it is not. But even then you would be no closer to knowing the importance of this work and how it affects people.
It is a unique process that has profound impact on the well being of the individual. Research continues to try to identify how this reading aloud process affects the human brain.
It is surprising to feel the effects of listening to someone read great literature aloud. It sounds simple but it is not.
Aside from learning about the process, the other benefit of this week was the bonding of the group – real friendships blossomed immediately. There was a generosity of spirit that cocooned the whole experience. The experienced trainers from the UK set the tone for this I think.
We also shared a group task that took many of us well out of our comfort zones. We were to give a performance of Romeo and Juliet. Every one of us was to contribute in some way. And we were to use the text from the play; but could shape the play however we chose. It was to be 20 minutes long.
I, who has never performed before at all, was Mercutio. We performed a brief fight scene with Romeo, Tybalt, Benvolio and Mercutio. And of course, Mercutio and Tybalt both die.
Our performance was in the heritage listed Queens Hall of the State Library of Victoria to a small invitation-only audience. We had props, lighting, backdrops, music, costumes and a new script. This was all achieved in 4 days with only 1 hour at each end of the day for preparation. It was a lot of fun and a really positive experience.
Linking this task to the Get Into Reading program is difficult. I can only assume that by reading Shakespeare plays out loud in this way it gives us the confidence to read anything aloud to groups of people.
It is exciting to have shared this experience of Book Well with this group of amazing people and to be at the cusp of something new and exciting. I feel privileged to have been involved.
“A little, aloud” edited by The Reader Organisation will be available later this year.