Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s works at U3A

Published 5:00am 7 June 2024

Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s works at U3A
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

More than 400 years after they were written, many of William Shakespeare’s famous plays, poems and sonnets are enjoyed today by book lovers like Jill Baillie.

From the moment she first read The Merchant of Venice in primary school, Jill has admired Shakespeare’s ability to create vivid imagery and convey complex emotions and ideas through language.

Wanting to share her passion with others, Jill decided to teach a class dedicated to the English playwright, poet and actor at Bribie Island’s University of the Third Age (U3A).

“A lot of people who studied Shakespeare at school often say they found it boring, or they couldn’t understand it,” Jill says.

“I originally started this class in 2018 with a six-week course and broke it up into themes like love, ambition, heroes and villains, but now it’s held weekly.

“People told me they were keen to learn more about Shakespeare and delve deeper into his work because they were more mature and had the time to do so.

“We read through the plays, we discuss the various characters and the themes, and watch scenes from the Royal Shakespeare Company and London Globe, who are renowned for performing Shakespeare’s plays.”

Considered to be the greatest writer in the English language, some of Shakespeare’s famous works include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear and Julius Caesar.

“People say Shakespeare’s work is timeless, and I agree with them,” Jill says.

“His work is so diverse – he gives you all these different stories, amazing characters and of course, fabulous verse.

“The themes he uses – politics, tragedy, history, romance, comedy, life and death – spans through the ages and is relatable to everybody, regardless of what century we are talking about.

“His work might be a little dated in terms of the language he used, but you have to remember he’s writing in an era where there was a certain social structure.

“This social structure included women and their role in society, but he has written the most incredible characters who are women.”

Many of Shakespeare’s characters are rich in personality and traits.

“He always tries to find the humanity in his characters, and I think that is why he has remained so popular,” Jill says.

“When he is dealing with politics, he infers that the politician is always sly.

“When he is writing about romance, his characters show off love, hate and jealousy.

“He also has some incredible villains in his work, and they always have the best lines.

“I personally prefer some of the histories and tragedies to his comedies.”

Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s works at U3A

Fast facts about Shakespeare

  • He was born in 1564 and died in 1616.
  • He was one of eight children and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands.
  • He married Anne Hathaway at 18. Together they had three children – Susanna followed by twins Hamnet and Judith.
  • Altogether, Shakespeare's works include 38 plays, 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets, and a variety of other poems.
  • He is credited with the invention or introduction of more than 1,700 words that are still used in English today.


It’s never too late to learn

There are more than 150 subjects available for mature-aged people looking to learn a new hobby or skill at Bribie Island U3A.

Many of the courses are based around art, culture, computers and information technology, craft, drama, dance, environment and science, games, history, languages, lifestyle and fitness, literature, music and photography.

To find out more, visit the website


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