Last weekend we took our kids to see Shakespeare in the Park. This is an ideal way to introduce Shakespeare to children, because it is a casual environment that doesn’t require complete silence. Besides, kids can wiggle around on a blanket on the grass, changing positions, so even if your child has lots of energy, the child does not have to sit still. Shakespeare in the Park is usually free, so if you need to leave, you are not wasting any money.
On the way to the park, I told my children the plot of the story “Twelfth Night,” which was being performed that night. Twins are shipwrecked, and the girl thinks her twin brother has died. So she goes to work for the local duke. She dresses up as a boy in order to work for the duke, but she ends up falling in love with the duke. Meanwhile, the duke is in love with Olivia, who is in love with the duke’s page (who happens to be the girl dressed up as a boy). Suddenly the twin brother shows up and is mistaken for the sister who is dressed up as a boy. In the end, everyone is paired off and gets married. Yes, I told my kids that in Shakespeare’s comedies, there is always at least one love story, and couples always get married at the end. This is opposed to the tragedies, where lots of people are dead at the end. Yep. Comedy or tragedy. Married or dead. My kids laughed.
My kids seemed to follow their first Shakespeare play just fine. I told them they might not understand all the language, and just to pay attention to the plot. Also, I said that the language was similar to the King James version of the Bible. My 12-year-old son had no problem understanding the language, my two middle boys understood most of it, and my 7-year-old daughter said she couldn’t understand the words, but she enjoyed seeing the play. What a great kick-off to a full year of teaching Shakespeare to my children!Tweet