If You Teach Shakespeare You will Want to Check out this Book

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Today I’m blogging about someone else’s book!  Surprised, huh? Lately, I’ve been considering creating another blog specifically about books focused on theatre and writing reviews about them.  Should I do so?  Would that help anyone?  We’ll start with this one.

A Pinterest Friend

This review began because of a pin on Pinterest. Wouldn’t you know it?    I saw this fellow’s pin and thought it would be helpful to me and my writing.  Brendan, the author, and I emailed each other several times since that pinning. I was not asked to write a review.  I offered it to Brendan. Although I don’t walk around calling myself an expert on youth theatre (because that sounds so pretentious to me–I’m just a hard working, really old teacher-haha), I can confidently say that I am well versed in drama education and youth theatre in general.  And besides…more press for someone’s book can’t hurt, right?

Playing with Plays

Playing with Plays is the publisher of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids. This great little book is packed with three versions of Shakespeare’s beloved play. Each version of the play is around ten minutes in length.  More importantly for a teacher, it has three different cast sizes!  Oh my, that is very useful!

As a drama teacher of over thirty-eight years, I continuously sought quality resources for my students. Each year, I perused publishers’ books for new approaches to classic plays.  Playing with Plays has figured out what is needed for teachers like me– fresh approaches to teaching drama, etc.  Several times I have taught with the book, Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare which is a bit misleading.  The stories are those of Shakespeare’s plays not some other stories that Shakespeare authored.  I think Playing with Plays is a better introduction to the plots for students and young readers.

Brendan calls his versions “Melodramatic Modifications to Shakespeare’s Plays”.  I appreciate that description and think that’s a fair depiction of these playlets.  Brendan isn’t trying to be Shakespeare, but has created clever versions of the Bard’s play that is palatable to all students of various ages and abilities. Oh, I like that too!

I appreciate that  Brendan  has high-lighted the particular lines from the actual play.  For a child or beginning drama student or Language Arts student, this is tremendously helpful– a reader can clearly discern which lines Shakespeare wrote and which Brendan penned. Yeay! Also, a teacher could lift those lines very easily and use them in a class discussion. Anything to help our teachers; that’s what I say.

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Integrity of the Story

I have read A LOT of plays, produced, directed and acted in many plays and musicals.  I’m a purist.  I don’t appreciate classic literature to be bastardized.  I dislike parodies or “skits” of fairy tales, beloved plays or musicals.  As an artist, I know it is difficult enough to get butts in seats and to encourage audiences to appreciate the work, as is.  Sometimes all people know is “that really funny middle school play version of Red Riding Hood.” Can you imagine? Ugh. I appreciate that Brendan hasn’t done that with Midsummer Night’s Dream, but he has plucked the most important pieces of the plot.

Playing with Plays created other Shakespeare plays:  Rome and Juliet, Macbeth (my person favorite0, Hamlet, Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing and several more.  You can purchase Playing with Plays scripts in bookstore and on line at PlayingwithPlays.com.

If you have a chance, check out his website, too.  There is a lot of helpful information for anyone teaching Shakespeare.  I bet you find something there you can use in your next lesson. That can’t be said of every educational website.

So, check out Playing with Plays.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

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