Quakers and Shakespeare

John Lampen writes about drama and spiritual understanding

Through most of our history, Quakers were strongly discouraged from going to the theatre. Friends once objected to Shakespeare being studied and performed in Quaker schools. Our attitudes changed gradually, with the formation of the Quaker Youth Theatre in 1976 as a key moment. Nowadays we have excellent touring Quaker drama and well-attended Shakespeare courses at Woodbrooke and Charney Manor. Nonetheless professional Quaker actors tell me they feel tensions between their Quakerism and their calling. One of the last things Walt Whitman wrote was an essay contrasting George Fox and William Shakespeare, and claiming that Fox gives us the one thing that Shakespeare was unable to offer.

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