In Which I Undertake Something Dumb…

We are embarking on a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  I’m directing it and am in the process of figuring out the casting as well as editing down the script we have so that no one has too many lines.  I am, no doubt, completely and utterly insane.

But, because it’s on my mind, for your use, a post on Shakespearean resources.  I’ve posted about Shakespeare a little before.  Now, a few more things you can use to learn about Shakespeare and specifically The Tempest.

First up, there’s the scripts.  Obviously, you can get the actual text of Shakespeare’s plays most anywhere.  There’s a good chance you already have them in your home.  I have the weighty tome that is The Riverside Shakespeare from my college days.  Of course, if you don’t, there’s always Shakespeare at Project Gutenberg.  Here’s a link where you can see Shakespeare’s works available there.

Shakespeare with Children: Six Scripts For Young PlayersIf you’re working with kids, you might not want the full original versions.  Simply Shakespeare by Jennifer Kroll is a book that includes simple story versions of the plays done as reader’s theater.  For the most part, the language is modernized.  The plays are meant to be done in about 20 minutes.  Stepping things up a little bit, Shakespeare with Children by Elizabeth Weinstein gives slightly longer versions of six of the plays.  These are shortened versions that incorporate mostly Shakespearean language.  This is the version of the plays we’re using, though I’m cutting it down somewhat.  Finally, when I was looking for our script to base our production, I considered both this site and this one.  I thought both looked promising.

Next, picture book versions of the Shakespearean stories are a must.  I think they’re a useful way to introduce the plays all the way up to high school.  For The Tempest, these are the resources we’ve been looking at:

The Tempest retold by Ann Keay Beneduce
The Tempest adapted by Mariana Mayer
Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams
The Tempest by Bruce Coville
Shakespeare for Kids: The Tempest by Lois Burdett
Stories from Shakespeare by E. Nesbit

The Bruce Coville Shakespeare series is especially wonderful.  I have mixed feelings about the children’s illustrations in the Lois Burdett Shakespeare versions.  Plus, the strange poetry she uses to retell the stories isn’t really my style.  However, I know others really like these versions.  Nesbit’s Shakespeare retellings are available at Project Gutenberg here and at Google Books here.

Finally, some resources on Shakespeare’s life are good to have.  We’ve only just begun to explore these, but here are some I’ve found useful.

The Usborne World of Shakespeare by Anna Claybourne
Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki
Bard of Avon: the Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley

Right now I’m feeling very foolhardy and optimistic about the ability of these kids to do this amazing production.  But ask me again in March if I still think this was a good idea!

2 thoughts on “In Which I Undertake Something Dumb…

  1. Good luck, it sounds like a wonderful project. It can never be a foolish thing to dive into Shakespeare. Our book group read Twelfth Night together this year, readers theatre style, which was low stress and buckets of fun; we’re doing King Lear next and I’ve been wondering just how I could add more performance elements.

    I agree about the Coville series. We’re revisiting his version of A Midsummer Nights Dream for our summer solstice.

    My favourite retellings are the Leon Garfield ones.

    Hope to see pictures here some time of the performance!

  2. I think “crazy” probably describes this better than “dumb.” 😉

    But seriously: what an awesome project! I think it’s really fantastic that you’re taking this on, and I’m sure that it will be quite a memorable experience for all involved.

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