A theater group in India has put together a performance of The Tempest, done completely in mime. Designed specifically for grade school kids, in the fear that Shakespeare is leaving schools, this performance relies entirely on actions. No words, which makes the story telling that much more challenging. Read more about this impressive performance here in the New Indian Express.
As a classroom exercise, have your kids mime a short part of one of Shakespeare’s plays. You really need to be expressive and understand the language in order to deliver a mimed performance effectively. This will be great fun!
Traveling soon and have kids? Well then, there is no better time to stop by a Shakespeare Festival. Family trips can be mundane and boring on the road, However, there are great ways to mix this up. You can play road games, you can stop by random bizarre sites along the way like a giant blue ox or motels made out of teepees or my favorite, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (BEST. ICE CREAM. EVER). Or you can stop somewhere fabulous for some great Shakespeare! Guess what!? In most cities you can find great Shakespeare Festivals pretty easily!
Educators always say, and I’m sure you have heard this before, the best way to understand Shakespeare is to see Shakespeare PERFORMED (and even more so, perform it yourself!). Well, across the country and around the world there are festivals literally everywhere. The coolest part are the different venues. Some are in replica Globe Theaters: (San Diego, Ashland, Utah) others are in a park, others set on a lake, and so on… beautiful venues for beautiful theater.
I have composed a list of Shakespeare Festivals to make it easy to find a show around the globe while you’re on the road!
So the next road trip you are on, I expect to see a great photo of you and your family with the Shakespeare Festival you just visited!
If you run or are part of a Shakespeare Festival and you are not listed on my Shakespeare festival page, please let me know and I will be sure to add your organization.
I received an email a few weeks ago from a teacher using my books/plays for her students because she wanted them to improve their skills in reading comprehension. She wrote the following to me:
“I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream as reading material. I couldn’t get my high school special ed students to reread anything. Their thinking was, “I have already read that once and do not need to repeat.” But, by introducing this as a play that needed to be word-perfect and beginning on page 1 each day, they were willing to participate. They were rehearsing for a show, not simply earning a grade for the reading class. Your materials made all the difference. Most important, reading skills improved.”
— LaVelle Brown, Special Ed teacher
Many schools are missing or losing performing arts classes due to budget cuts. I’m writing a 12-part piece about why we do drama in school, where I present valuable reasons why we need theater in our education systems and why it’s critical to continue supporting it.
One of these reasons is COMPREHENSION. I’ve had a number of teachers and parents use my books or enroll their child in my classes to boost their understanding of language. Drama is amazing for this development!
Think about it:
Do kids only read a passage once in class? Typically, yes. Therefore, perform a play!
Participating in a play or a skit allows students to read the passages multiple times. By learning their lines they support their growth in comprehension.
Do you want kids to understand the storyline, theme, or see the “big picture”? Be in a performance!
We rehearse dozens of times before we actually perform on stage or in front of an audience. Didn’t get the concept on the first pass… how about the 30th? Yep, comprehension increases with every pass through the material.
Do you want to learn about a time in history? Do a play!
Understanding the Roman empire? Make an appearance in Julius Caesar.
Through rehearsals, performances, costume creation and design, comprehension is assimilated often without the participants even realizing it.
From a purely scientific perspective, repetitive review of a script creates new neuro-pathways in the brain, which leads to long-term comprehension skills. Isn’t that one of our goals as teachers, to help improve the brain?
It’s more than just “doing a play”, it’s about creating a more robust child that will make a difference in our future.
I would love to hear your thoughts about drama in school!
I have been so very lucky to meet a wonderful artist who has captured the plays of Shakespeare in a way unique to anything I’ve ever seen. (examples are below) As with Shakespeare, Jane Tomlinson was born and raised in Straford-upon-Avon. “The Bard has always been a towering figure in my life; his influence permeated my childhood,”…
Ok, my version of Macbeth for Kids is funny, but if you have a spare 3 minutes, this is an absolutely funny and fantastic view of Macbeth and Macduff arguing over whether Macduff was actually “born” or not! Great stuff by Timothy McSweeney:
(Macbeth and Macduff are fencing in front of a castle.)
MACBETH: Macduff! Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.
MACDUFF: Despair thy charm! Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped.
(They stop sword fighting.)
MACDUFF: I was extracted surgically, in an operation.
MACBETH: Okay, but thou wast still born, right?
MACDUFF: No. Untimely ripped.
MACBETH: Okay, but after thou wast ripped, thou wast of woman born.
That’s right, I said “IN”, the Merchant IN Venice! Read below from one of our guest bloggers about a rare opportunity…
Venetian ghetto 500 years ago
I have always wondered how it would be to see Shakespeare’s characters in the places which the Bard himself thought for them, how it would be to see Lorenzo wooing Jessica outside a Venetian palace or Shylock claiming the “pound of flesh” that Antonio owed him. Now you have the opportunity to walk through the streets (or “calli” in the Venetian dialect) which have inspired Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice.
In the summer of 2016, the Colombari Company and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice will be part of an initiative called “Shylock Project” that aims at bringing the characters of The Merchant of Venice for the first time on a special stage, the Venetian Ghetto, the Jewish quarter in Venice. The Ghetto was the place where Jews were forced to live by the Venetian Republic and 2016 marks the quincentennial of its establishment. (That’s 500 years!) The Ghetto is also the place where we will perform The Merchant of Venice!
Furthermore, many brilliant scholars will be discussing the play in several meetings and seminars! Do not miss the chance to be part of this unique event, visit our website to have more information: www.themerchantinvenice.org