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!
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.
So, I recently directed Oliver Twist for Kids and am about to direct A Christmas Carol for Kids. In doing so, I have come across a great costume that is both inexpensive and very effective as a fun kids cape to wear. As you may or may not know, there is a creepy villain, that is constantly referred to as the caped guy, in Oliver Twist named Monks. (Think of the villain from Meet The Robinsons). As well, there is the fourth ghost in A Christmas Carol that is the Grim Reaper. Both these characters can easily wear the same, simple, costume. Add a mustache for Monks and a staff for the Grim Reaper and bamm! You are good to go! (This is also a great cape for use with Macbeth for Kids for the “Murderer” character!)
I spent quite some time looking through all the different capes/cloaks/hooded sheets on Amazon until I found the right size, look, length, and price that works!
It’s a simple black hooded cloak with a crushed velvet finish to make it look really cool. The best part is that the kids LOVE wearing it (and for less than $20!) Half the time they’re acting like Darth Vader when wearing it off stage, but hey, that’s the fun of being an actor, right? Using the imagination!
So, I recently did the play, Treasure Island for Kids, and it was an absolute blast. However, when it came to costumes, those were relatively easy, until… Long John Silver. How do I show a wooden leg on a kid, on stage? I can’t have him hoping around the entire time, bound to cause tripping issues. I can’t…
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.
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.