Catawba to host third Shakespeare Community Reading

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2018

Catawba College

SALISBURY — Responding to enthusiastic requests from previous participants, Catawba College will again offer a community reading and study of a Shakespeare play.

The sessions will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in February and early March.

This year’s play is “The Winter’s Tale.” Bethany Sinnott, a Catawba professor emerita of English and a Shakespearean scholar, will again lead the weekly sessions. 

Reading dates will be Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27 and March 6. March 13 is scheduled as a reading make-up day in case bad weather interrupts the schedule.

The group will read one act each week in the Rendleman Conference Room, located on the second floor of the Hedrick Administration Building at 2301 W. Innes St. Participants will read aloud each scene before discussing it briefly. All will be encouraged but not required to read aloud.

“The Winter’s Tale” is a romance not because it deals with romantic love, though it does involve that theme, but because it is one of a small group of plays that Shakespeare wrote late in his career, after his tragedies. The plays share a number of common themes, including exotic settings, human evil and suffering followed by forgiveness and reconciliation, affirmation of life and supernatural elements. The romances have been especially praised for the beauty of their poetry. 

In “The Winter’s Tale,” Leontes, king of Sicilia, is suddenly consumed with a violent and unjustified jealousy over his wife. His vicious rage results in suffering for his family, friends and kingdom. Although the madness of his jealousy is quenched by a tragic event, Leontes and others must suffer the consequences of his deeds until the faithful love and service of other characters lead to what seems a miraculous blessing of restoration and reconciliation.

“The Winter’s Tale” provides audiences and readers with colorful and appealing characters and a touching appreciation of nature and country life at a rustic festival. The play is a celebration of life despite the evil and suffering that form a part of that life.

Sinnott will provide a brief introduction to the play on Feb. 6. Participants may attend one or all of the sessions as their schedules permit. Prior reading groups, for “Hamlet” and “King Lear,” have included a broad range of ages, from high school students to retirees.

Catawba College provides the program free of charge to the community thanks in large measure to Sinnott, who throughout her career has tried to cultivate new fans of Shakespeare.

Copies of the Folger Shakespeare Library paperback edition of “The Winter’s Tale” will be available for the use of the participants.

Sinnott holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, a master’s degree from Northwestern and a doctorate from UNC-Chapel Hill. A recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award from the South Atlantic Association of Departments of English in 2000, she was the first recipient of the Leona Fleming Herman Endowed Professorship at Catawba. She also served as lecturer for the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival.

For questions about “The Winter’s Tale” reading, contact Sinnott at or 704-637-0136.