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Julius Caesar on a summer afternoon at Tippet Rise

August 21, 2019

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, a group of about twenty people gathered in the dappled light of Xylem, Francis Kéré’s’s new pavilion at Tippet Rise. Residents of the region surrounding the art center, they were there to participate in a reading of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Some were assigned roles—an orthopedic surgeon from Columbus, who is also a volunteer at Tippet Rise, read the part of Caesar; a high school sophomore from the nearby town of Nye read Portia—while others came just to listen.

As the afternoon ensued, Shakespeare’s telling of a betrayed Roman general, of moral dilemma, of friendship and of loyalty unfolded. Quite a few readers embraced their roles with gusto, adopting accents and gestures, while others read more reservedly. All took time to encourage each other, to laugh, and to revel in the fun of it. Meanwhile, crickets chirped in the tall grasses surrounding the pavilion, Grove Creek chattered in the background, too, and sunlight streamed through the blue sky.

The event’s organizer, Melissa Moore, a former actor who, today, is the art center’s Communication and Administration Manager, had long dreamt of organizing a script reading at Tippet Rise. This past winter, she approached the art center’s cofounders, Peter and Cathy Halstead, about the idea. They embraced it enthusiastically.

Play reading groups are increasingly popular. “Anyone can participate,” said Melissa. “No stage experience is needed. For some, it can be a way to embrace their inner thespian. Others might join in to become more familiar with a work, or to do something a little bit different on a Sunday afternoon.”

Despite the play’s tragic themes, the readers concluded it was a joyful and enriching way to spend a few hours. “Between Shakespeare’s brilliance, the beautiful setting, and the company, what is there not to love?” one asked.

Shakespeare will return to Tippet Rise this fall! Details will be available on the Events page soon.