Thursday, February 02, 2006

Performing with Shakespeare

Charlotte Mason had her students perform three major plays each school year. If my memory serves me correctly, the fall term was a Christmas play, the winter term was a Shakespeare play and the Spring term was a literature play (e.g. Alice in Wonderland). We also try to have three performances a year not including our Thanksgiving and Easter recitations. This term we are reading The Merchant of Venice and are watching the play online. We are already familiar with the story plot since the children read the Nesbit and Lamb’s versions of the play when they were younger. The older girls are editing the original Shakespeare lines and are practicing for the ‘big day.’ This is one of their favorite things to do. We have a big plastic trunk with old dress-up clothes in it and it is one of our most beloved items in the school room. Here is a photo of the children practicing.


  1. Anonymous23.12.06


    Posted by Anonymous

    Do you recommend getting the No Fear guides for Shakespeare? I have a 15, 14, 10 and 8yo.

    I immensely enjoy your blog. I always look forward to your next post. Your writing inspires, encourages and motivates me.

    Are there other American families where you are?

    God bless you, Elisabeth

    • Permanent Link

    July 3, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by lindafay

    Hi Elisabeth,

    I'm so happy you are able to use some of the info on the blog. It makes me feel that the time invested is worthwhile.

    I don't buy the notes since they are free and online and I use them for myself, but I don't let my students see them. The idea here is that the reader makes the discoveries, himself, as much as possible (with just a little help from the teacher). Sparks does ALL the work and steals the enjoyment of discovery, but when the teacher uses it as an aide, because she doesn't have all the time in the world to discover the meanings, then this can be beneficial and time saving. I do not use the notes for my younger children, but save them to use when the older children and I are reading the actual play together.

    I also recommend the book Brightest Heaven of Invention. It is a commentary on six Shakespeare plays written from a Biblical world viewpoint and is excellent for a highschooler to read on his/her own. We have taken advantage of the BBC free online videos, but they are no longer being offered, unfortunately. Although, I altered the above link and I think it will work for a little while longer. If I lived the America I would take advantage of videos and dvds so my children could watch the plays. They were designed to be watched rather than read, anyway. You have to be careful, however, as some of the play adaptions are poorly done. I hope this answers your question.


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    July 3, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by lindafay

    P.S. We do have some American friends near us.

  2. Dear Linda,
    I've been eagerly anticipating your resonse to my "value of Shakespeare" question posted in your "What do we want to hear about" post. But in the meantime I wanted to share our recent Shakespeare experience. At the beginning of the school year I read from Lamb's Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream. My children showed some interest & so for Christmas I bought my 6yo dd Jim Weiss' audio CD of Shakespeare for Children. It has storytellings of A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Tempest. This was an immediate hit, and has been listened to several times by her, my 3yo ds & my 13yo dd. Next I borrowed the audio & book of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Bruce Coville, which again was much enjoyed by all. The next step was to watch a video and I selected the 1935 version with Mickey Rooney as Puck, and here I thought my 13 yo might enjoy this, but I was shocked when my 6yo sat spellbound through the entire movie. I allowed my older daughter to view the 1999 version w/ Michelle Pfeiffer, but found that one too sensual for the younger viewers. I wanted to show them more of a play-style format of the story and was able to locate, through the library, a filmed -for -televison version of the play by Joseph Papp. We are currently watching that, and still they are interested!

    And for the most exciting my 13yo took the paperback book of A Midsummer Night's Dream outside and read through 2 1/2 acts all of her own accord. She said she even used different voices & acted out the parts. She's asked if we can do this all again with other of Shakespeare's plays (as if that wasn't Mama's plan all along :-)).

    Our last step is to listen & read along with an audio CD of the play published by Naxos. We haven't got to that yet, but we will.

    I, myself, don't really understand why this has worked and caused such a natural enjoyment in my children & I'm still unsure of the eternal value in learning Shakespeare, but who am I to stand in the way of such an easy, natural education?

    We live near San Diego, Ca and are looking forward to this summer when "The Old Globe Theater" in Balboa Park will perform 3 of Shakespeare's plays. A live performance will be a great end, or should I say beginning...


  3. K,

    How exciting! I am thrilled to hear about your successes. Yes, Shakespeare should definitely be watched, if at all possible.

    My computer is in the shop so I have been borrowing one. All my notes are on my laptop so I am waiting until I answer your question about Shakespeare- but I haven't forgotten.

    blessings today,