26 October 2010

Studying Shakespeare

We started our Shakespeare study a few weeks ago. For whatever reason, Jack has really run with it.

We started by getting three books of Shakespeare for children. The theory there being that if he knows the story well, the Elizabethan language will be easier to follow. We used: Tales from Shakespeareby Charles and Mary Lamb, Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield, and Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit.

We read Midsummer Night's Dream in each of the books, and then we watched the 2005 ShakespeaRe-Told version. It was adapted for a television audience and uses modern English and a modern setting, so again, he became familiar with the story.

Next we checked out several version traditional versions of the movie.
So far, we've watched:
the 1999 version with Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania
the 1981 BBC version with Helen Mirren as Titania

and we've checked a couple more versions out, but they haven't arrived yet. I'll update as they do.

Jack watched each version three of four times, and then we started reading some scenes along with the movie using a 1959 edition of the the Pelican Shakespeare Library. (I don't think it matters much which version you use, though older versions will have been better-edited and this in one case where a mis-spelled word can be very confusing.)

The next step is the start reading scenes together. Maybe tonight.

But meanwhile, Jack has been absorbed in the story and has been adding Elizabethan turns of phrase and Shakespearean descriptions to his already colourful vocabulary. (It also led us off into finding th story of Pyramis and Thisbe in Bullfinch's Mythology.)

I wish I knew of a local company doing this play in the near future -- that would be my ideal for the next step. Ahh, well. Movies will do for now.


  1. Oh cool! Kendra asked about "A Midsummer Night's Dream" a few months ago, but we couldn't find an edition that seemed on her level. You've given me some ideas.

    Possibly useful: If you go to arborweb.com, click on "log in" and register, and then click on "ArborMail," you can sign up to be e-mailed when a particular event is added to their calendar. So if you told it to notify you of anytime the phrase A Midsummer Night's Dream is added to the calendar, anytime in the next 1000 days, you'd get an automatic email message to alert you anytime such an event is added. I'd do it with a couple of different spellings and misspellings of the word Night's, in case it is entered with a different spelling. I think this ability to watch for an event is a really neat feature. For whatever that's worth. Or just enter one entry for the phrase "midsummer night" and that should include all of the likely permutations on the spelling the play's name.

    Hm. I searched arborweb for it now and found that there was an unusual musical representation of the show playing at the Botanical Gardens earlier this month, but no other productions of it are currently listed.

    ps. The trees in your photo are gorgeous!

  2. Thanks, Valerie! I'm headed over to sign up now -- that's an excellent idea. If you decide to buy one, Rod particularly likes the Garfield one. If you read them online, it's fun to compare. :)

  3. I just read Lois Burdett's version of Midsummer Night's Dream to my five- and six-year-olds. They really enjoyed it and the illustrations and commentary are (by kids ages 7-10) are a riot. We just picked up Burdett's The Tempest at the library today.


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