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Shakespeare for children

Shakespeare is most celebrated playright and poem and his works have spawned many phrases that we use today, and whilst his writing can be seen as challenging, there are ways that we can make it more accessible for children.  Children love to be challenged, so while iambic pentameter and the words 'to be or not to be' may sound too complex for children, it can actually be a lot of fun! There are a multitude of adaptations of Shakespeare's work, from animations to reworked stage shows, which help to make Shakespeare less intimidating and more accessible for children and adults alike.

Here are some fun adaptations for introducing children to England's most famous and influential writer, William Shakespeare:

  • Perform's brand new show The Dream, based on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Stemming from our 7-12s theme of the same name, I was initially a bit worried that children wouldn't fully understand the story, however, by setting it in a recognisable modern-day with Theseus as Captain of the England football team, Hippolyta as a pop star-influencer & Puck using an app on his iPhone rather than a magical flower, the children seem to really understand the characters and the plot. The Dream will debut this summer at Perform in the Park, click here to purchase tickets!
  • Gnomeo & Juliet is a take on Romeo & Juliet - I bet you couldn't guess! - which depicts gnomes from rival gardens, meeting and falling in love. Don’t worry, this adaptation tweaks Shakespeare’s play to include a not-so-tragic ending making this one of the most child-friendly Shakespeare films there is!
  • Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb is a classic retelling that has remained in print since 1807. The tales are true to the originals, and include a lot of Shakespeare's original dialogue, however, anything unsuitable for younger readers has been edited out accordingly. In their version of Twelfth Night, for instance, there is no mention of Malvolio, Sir Toby Belch, or Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Though a little long-winded, this is the book that really set the standard for all Shakespeare adaptors!
  • Regent's Park Open Air Theatre is staging an adaptation of The Tempest this summer, re-imagined for everyone aged six and over to bring Shakespeare's text thrillingly to life for younger audiences.

The success of these adaptations show how truly amazing William Shakespeare’s plays are that, despite being written hundreds of years ago, they can still resonate with children today. 

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