I ask kids all the time, “Have you ever seen The Lion King? Then you know the story of Hamlet!” Well, on the most part, yes, but not exactly… I came across this great infographic that showcases the differences and similarities and well … slight differences… like, oh, I don’t know, Elton John singing? Anyway, I thought you all would enjoy and possibly use this Hamlion graphic!!!
Two of my Shakespeare for Kids books, Julius Caesar and Hamlet, have the need for some very simple costume material: bed sheets for toga robes. All those Roman kids wear togas and Hamlet’s dad is, of course, a ghost. Both are very simple to costume up for the stage, just get some bed sheets. However, even the cheapest bed sheets are about $4-5 a piece… too pricey for my blood. But, there is a GREAT and inexpensive solution, your local hotel. (see below for some fun photos)
All hotels go through bed sheets all the time, a simple cut or stain and they toss them out. This is where we come in. Just ask if they have some old sheets you can have and they will most likely fill a bag’s worth for you! Easy-peasy! (and most importantly, free!)
A bag of bed sheets
Now, just poke two eye-holes for the ghost. As for the Romans, simply tie them in a knot on their shoulder, put a gold rope around their waist, presto-chango, done! (be sure they wear shorts and a t-shirt, this is a kid-friendly show you know!)
As for the golden rope, yep, I’ve done the work for you, you can find that here on Amazon! At 18 yards in length, it’s enough for about 8-10 kids.
In my most recent direction of my Hamlet for Kids there came the moment when the young actor comes on stage and says the line, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him. When I was a kid, he was the jester, the funniest guy I knew.” And the play moves on… but, this one kid, as he was going through rehearsing in many different ways, stumbled on saying it as “Yo, Rick” and his first improv was around, “Who is this Rick guy?” But, he settled for going with the break dancer avenue, as he put it, “the best breakdancer I ever knew…” Well, see for your self:
I recently coached a parent who was running an after-school program, and she asked me how I do the “death auditions” for my plays. It made me realize that I haven’t done a simple quick layout of my first day for a while, so, here it is: 1) I do a 5-8 minute, melodramatic solo performance…
I recently came across a great video through Twitter that is pretty impressive. Jim Meskimen is a professional impersonator and he spun together a great 2 minute video that’s both engaging and original. He was able to perform the famous, To be or not to be monologue from Hamlet with about 25 different famous celebrity impersonations. You can follow Jim on Twitter at: @jimrossmeskimen
You can see the video here:
And Jim has another Shakespeare from celebrity impersonations below. This one has been seen almost 1 million times! Not too shabby!
Here is a clever idea that may engage your students in a short lesson plan, as well as open their eyes and minds to what Shakespeare has brought to the table. Create a top ten Shakespeare list. Here are some top ten Shakespeare ideas you can work with:
Characters (Puck, Hamlet, Othello… Who’s #1?)
Re-written story lines (i.e. Lion King or West Side Story, etc)
Speeches (To be, or not to be)
Quotes (Out, damn spot, out!)
Phrases (Method to his Madness)
Words (i.e. Alligator, Minds-eye, Dalmation, etc)
Let me know if you think of more, so I can share with other educators!
Here is a short Top Ten Shakespeare phrases video to kick it off for your class – bet ya didn’t know all these: