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!
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 had many requests for signed copies of my books for students, classes, and teachers. I have finally set up my site so I can accommodate these requests easily! So, you can now buy your books directly through me and they will be signed! (yeah!) You can purchase them here.