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!
This is a great article about a teacher using a very ingenious way to get her kids to learn how to analyze and read into something using context clues, even when they don’t know what they are looking at. It’s a very clever and creative way to approach this skill set for use when analyzing Shakespeare’s…
Backyard Shakespeare. What is that, you may ask. Well, it’s a very ingenious and creative way to engage homeschooled kids with Shakespeare, education, language arts, drama, and most importantly, fun!
I recently had the privilege to teach a group of 7 kids Playing With Plays The Tempest for Kids and we had a BLAST! Best part, we did it in the backyard of a house of one of the homeschooling families. Their deck was a natural stage. So, a few costumes, a few scripts, a few rehearsals, and BAM! We’ve got a fun, melodramatic Shakespeare play performing in the backyard!
I’ve seen this done in the past with many of my plays, but this was the first time I got to do it. The best part, you can do a performance ANYWHERE! The parents bring a blanket or lawn chairs, and you have an instant theater!
Readers Theater is always a fun time, and even more so with my melodramatic stories which are short and funny. But, they are even funnier with a family reunion. As we all know who the hams are in our families, don’t we?
This past holiday season, when our family came together for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas, we did a readers theater three different times (it’s officially a family tradition now!) What a BLAST! My son made sure he was the director, and he gave out 3-4 books that we all shared. Then he made impromptu costumes that we all put on and read our parts (or multiple parts in some cases). I never thought about using my books for a large team building get-together. However, doing readers theater at a family reunion is fantastic for building new and cherished memories.
Next year we have already planned to do Macbeth (the nieces want to be witches!) and Julius Caesar (can’t wait to kill of Uncle Louie!) What fun to do a family readers theater during our family reunion.
Another rendition a friend of mine is doing at their family reunion, since they have over 50 family members, is a family competition. They are going to break them up into random teams, and then all perform. Best performance gets to eat first! When m
y plays are only 15 minutes, it’ goes by quick and with much laughter!
As many of you know, I visit classrooms and do an engaging, interactive, “Intro to Shakespeare” experience. However, some locations are a bit too far to get to, for example, Wales, England. I use that example, as I have recently conducted a Skype call with a group of kids from Wales! Other than having to get up at 5am my time, it was an incredible experience! All the kids had their questions ready and in-hand and my face was up on the big-screen for all to see! It was fun, as the questions could be about anything. So, of the 20 or so questions I answered, a few were about Shakespeare (they just read and performed my Tempest for Kids), and even some about book writing, but, there were also questions about my pets (yes, I have a fish named Monster!), and many around legos!
See the video below for a quick view of the Skype call.
All-in-all, it was a great experience for myself, the kids, and the teacher!
If you would like to connect via Skype, please email me! brendan @ PlayingWithPlays.com
Over the years, I have done many classroom visits. It’s such a wonderful experience for me, the kids, and the teacher. It’s a quick 45-55 minutes visit, that consists of the following:
2-3 minutes about me and Shakespeare, quick and simple
5-9 minute solo TOTALLY interactive one-man show retelling one play (i.e. Macbeth or Hamlet or check out some videos below!)
Typically, I pull kids out of the audience and have them say lines or get killed during the performance!
Then we have them do their “auditions” (mine are COMPLETELY different than typical auditions)
It starts with everyone lining up and doing their best “death” (remember, this is melodramatic Shakespeare and most kids LOVE to die on stage!)
Then, I have every give me their best scream! (they just saw a dead body, it’s only logical!)
Lastly, I have everyone line up and give me their best evil laugh or witches cackle. I first start off with teaching them how to do a basic evil laugh (Muwahahaha!!! Using their entire body in the process)
A few days before, the class reviews and writes down various Shakespeare insults from the insult generator.
Have them practice on each other (or even their parents and siblings!)
Then we meet and start the Insult-a-thon. Kids love it!
At that point, it’s a Q&A about whatever Shakespeare title they are reviewing, Shakespeare, or even book writing and publishing.
You can engage your class this way on a first day of Shakespeare, or , if you are interested in learning more about me coming in for a classroom visit, you can email me at brendan at PlayingWithPlays.com
One other note, the typical grades that I visit are 5th through 7th, they are typically the most engaging when it comes to all the hands-on activities that we do!
I have worked and talked with many teachers that have used my books to help kids with special needs. As well, I have done many plays with kids with special needs, and the change and awareness that is created during the process is amazing! Knowing this, I wanted to share an idea that I just received from a teacher. Here is what she wrote:
I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids 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 one 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.
A clever use of my books, or plays in general, to get special needs kids more engaged in reading! Just a lesson idea from a teacher in the world. I hope this helps, as well as I’m always here to help if you need it, just reach out to me!