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Shakespeare in early elementary: suggested plays?

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We've done Midsummer Night's Dream (using the Bruce Coville book, and the BBC's Animated Tales video) and I'd like to do a second play. Do y'all have suggestions for which one? A. is 7.5 (and N, 2.5, is tagging along). I had thought Twelfth Night or maybe Winter's Tale -- I don't think the ending of Romeo and Juliet would be good for A. (I want him to like Shakespeare, after all; and he's pretty sensitive) and of course Hamlet & Othello are right out!


any ideas are most welcome. I am aiming to do 2 plays/year, or maybe one play and go through our resources both in the fall and the spring.


* This is a thread on Shakespeare I started last year, which has links to many resources as well as excellent posts from the boardies.


* a note RE the Animated Tales: these are really wonderful condensations-- Midsummer Night's Dream is particularly well-done -- but be aware that each play is produced by an entirely different group. So, other than animation, there is no similarity in style between the different plays, and if you like one you might very well detest another. If you can try them first via your library (or Netflix?) before purchasing that would be best. We do not own the set, just the one play which I bought inexpensively on VHS.

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Any of the Shakespeare's four great commedies might work, you might also look at The Taming of the Shrew and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Both these last two are very bawdy, but I am not sure a 7 year will get all of it, but will instead enjoy the broad humor (did he get the reference to bestiality in Midsummer NIght's Dream?) He may also like Henry IV parts 1 and 2 as the Prince Hal subplot has a lot of jesting in it as well.

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With our young children we've done A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and (briefly only) Macbeth. My daughters' favourites have been Midsummer and Twelfth Night; they liked R&J; and they didn't enjoy JC very much. Macbeth surprised me by being rather enjoyable, but we didn't watch any productions of it just to be safe.


We typically do a summary story (such as from Nesbitt's stories), then one or two graphic / manga versions, and then watch one or two versions of the play with the text available to follow along.


For Twelfth Night, my daughters enjoyed the production with Helena Bonham Carter, but also really enjoyed the Stratford Festival's production, too. (The latter is a bit bawdy, so it may not work.)

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Thank you, everybody! Candid, I'd never have thought of doing the Taming or Merry Wives, but you are right that he won't catch the bawdy humor and might think they are great fun. I'll look at my resources for those.


Five More Minutes, thanks for the breakdown of the plays and the children's reactions. I'd forgotten about manga/graphic Shakespeare entirely, b/c A. didn't like that format when we did Midsummer but he'd love it now, I think; and will go check out the Stratford Festival link you gave. I think I'll add that to the resource list on my older Shakespeare thread.


dmmetler, you are right about the live performances. I do think there are some near us in the summer, even one esp. for children (in a gorgeous open space, in the afternoon, and so on) -- I prob. ought to check those out, and have us read a play we'll be able to see live when summer rolls round. :)

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My littler ones LOVED Twelfth Night, and they thought Merchant of Venice was hilarious (we did talk a little bit about some of the more serious issues).


They're 9 now, but what worked well for me when they were 6 & 7 was to give them a copy of Lamb's tales for children, tell them I was considering "doing" a play with them, and asked for their input.


We made a paper bag puppet version of Twelfth Night that I love to share:

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