Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shakespeare's in the Air

I was inspired by Alice, over at Cottage Blessings, to introduce my children to Shakespeare. The pictures that Alice shares of her crew's performance of A Midsummers Night's Dream are simply spectacular.

I don't have a whole passel of kids I could interest in performing Shakespeare, but I do have two children who love a bit of drama.

We have a "Complete Works of Shakespeare" from 1925. It's great in that it has everything - but it's not the easiest to read - the pages are thin, the type small - and there are no explanatory notes. I figured if I was going to introduce a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old to Shakespeare, I better have some explanations available.

I found a great series of books by SparkNotes, No Fear Shakespeare. And I bought a copy of A Midsummers Night's Dream. These books have the original Shakespeare on one page - and on the adjacent page they have a "plain English" translation.

So, we're reading the play, a page at a time - first in plain English - so we'll all know what is going on, and then in Shakespeare's own words.

The kids love it. Harry totally got into playing Egeus. He loved the role of angry father. He projected his voice so well he should have been on-stage, not in the kitchen. And then when he took to playing Lysander - he needed to know, was this person angry too. No - Lysander was more sad - because he couldn't marry the girl he wanted. So Harry moderated his tones to one of sadness and dejection.

Pippi meanwhile, is our resident actress, and she's loving playing as many roles as I'll let her. She especially likes reading Puck.

We sometimes have to shift what roles we are reading - so that we're not having conversations with ourselves. But, so far it's been working out fine.

And there's something pretty neat about hearing your kids ask if you can read more Shakespeare now.

1 comment:

Alice Gunther said...

Fabulous! What fun!

You may be sure I will be doing a lot more of this with my children too! I love the prospect of just reading as a family and taking parts! They are on fire to do it too!

Thank you for your kind words and mention!