When I was young enough to still need a babysitter, my parents gave me a choice. I could go with them to a live production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” and sit in the balcony with one of my big brothers (I have four). Or, they’d find a babysitter. My dad quipped, “A ticket will cost less than a sitter, so it’s up to you.” Well, my brother was on leave from the military. A whole evening with him sounded better than a babysitter.
We had a great view of the thrust stage, but when the play began, I could not understand the actors. Looking at the prologue now, I still can’t quite fathom lines like, “Therefore paucas pallabris, let the world slide. Sessa!” (Prologue, scene 1, line 3).
I certainly wasn’t going to admit I’d made the wrong choice, and I couldn’t leave, so I kept watching and listening. So, as the audience laughed and my brother leaned forward, I did the same.
About 15 minutes in, a funny thing happened. The play started making sense! The story line wasn’t all that different from the silly old movies we watched as a family. Yes! I can do Shakespeare! I realized. I’m not recommending you take a group of 10-year-olds to see a play that needs a whole lot of explanation about gender roles and misogyny, but I will ask you this: at what grade level do you think the students you teach would be ready to study a Shakespearean play? Read more