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When local drama teacher Carl Martin found himself in hot demand among his friends to organize "Shakespeare parties," in which the participants would put on condensed versions of the bard's plays, he wondered about trying out the same idea with strangers. So he designed the Home Shakespeare Festival, a parlor game that includes a shortened but still Shakespearean script of a single play, a bag of props and instruction cards for all the actors. The kit comes in three different versions, The Merry Wives of Windsor ("perfect for couples"), The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare's "issues" drama) and Macbeth, a playing of which Martin himself will orchestrate at Quail Ridge Books on August 16 at 7:30 p.m. The game is free and open to the public. No experience necessary. Call 828-1588 for details.

DiamondDiamondDiamondIf you're in the mood for a road trip, High Point's North Carolina Shakespeare Festival (pictured) opens on August 19 with The Taming of the Shrew, a comedy about the subduing of a beautiful, shrill and difficult woman. While on the surface such a plot seems misogynistic these days, Shakespeare's battling lovers, Kate and Petruchio, have a wonderful, adversarial respect for one another. If only Gore and Bush could counter each other with lines like Kate's "What is your crest? A coxcomb?" and Petruchio's reply "A combless cock, so Kate will be my hen," we'd have a truly entertaining election season. Along with Shrew, which runs on a dozen scattered nights in August and September, the festival will feature Hamlet and Love's Labor's Lost. For more information, call (336) 887-3001.

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