In October of this year I published the second issue of my Shakespeare zine, Brief Candle.
I started Brief Candle in the spring of 2014. I had been contemplating the idea of a Shakespeare zine for a while but I was wary of starting a project that I knew was going to be much harder than doing Litmus Test, which was already kicking my ass.
There were a few things about doing a Shakespeare zine that appealed to me.
1. As someone who teaches Shakespeare, I am very invested in creating anything that encourages people to think of Shakespeare as their own. The primary mission of Brief Candle is to give Shakespeare back to the people. I don’t mean to disparage professional academics and scholars because they do valuable work, but in the same way that contemporary audiences at the Globe included both lords and commons, Shakespeare’s works shouldn’t be confined to an educated elite. They should be embraced by all English speakers. By bringing conversations about Shakespeare to an accessible format, I hoped that it might start to spark ideas in people and encourage them to revisit the text.
2. I continue to be amused and pleased with the juxtaposition of “high culture” with DIY culture. People who are familiar with zines are baffled that there is one about Shakespeare, and people who are familiar with Shakespeare are nonplussed by the idea of zines.
3. I love talking to my friends about Shakespeare and hearing their ideas and theories, working on this zine has given me wonderful excuses to harass my friends and inquire about their ideas.
4. Brief Candle is undoubtedly part of a wider, more general mission to make Richmond a more Shakespeare-centric town. By forming a Shakespeare club, publishing a Shakespeare zine, helping to market Quill’s shows, and generally putting lots of Bard vibes out into the city, I hope to be a small part of a grassroots campaign to make people in Richmond more excited about Shakespeare.
I was very happy with the first issue, but I was disappointed that I was unable to find anywhere to distribute them in person. However I did mail a copy to my Shakespeare hero Ron Rosenbaum and he told me he found my ideas about Macbeth interesting. Which is a huge ego boost.
I’m even happier with the second issue. I think the content is equally as good and I was able to sell them as a fundraiser for Quill so they’ve seen a slightly wider distribution. In the first issue my favourite piece was the article by my wife and my friend Elliot about divine judgment in Romeo and Juliet. In the second issue I think my favourite piece is my friend Emily Prichard’s piece about seeing herself in Helena from Midsummer.
Brief Candle accepts submissions from anyone anywhere, so if you are interested in writing something for the third issue, start brainstorming ideas now and get in touch when you’re ready.