Friday is the premiere of Midsummer Night’s Dream with Shakespeare Club. Ever since visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace with these 8-10 year old kids I have been inspired. Here are five resources that help feed my curiosity.
Shakespeare Unlimited podcast produced by the Folger Library. This is an amazing podcast! I never heard of it before this month. I have already downloaded back episodes with titles that jumped out at me. So far particular favorite topics include: Editing Shakespeare, Portraits of Shakespeare, Barry Edelstein: Thinking Shakespeare, Derek Jacobi, the George North Manuscript. My queue is long with this one.
The Tempest ipad App Heuristic Shakespeare has set the bar for how to make a this Shakespeare app. This is technology and culture blended perfectly. I love this app. There are so many components to this. The illustrations, the video production, Ian McKellen, the other actors, the Arden edition of the text, the contextual information filled with photos and illustrations, the character charts, the character map… I have never seen anything like it. I hope there will be more.
Sonnetts iOS app – Ok, so not as wildly awesome as the Tempest app, but this app containing Arden editions (and notes) of all the Sonnetts is pretty great as well. Video of actors reading each poem is a delight. I was particularly impressed to see Cicely Berry. She was the voice director at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1969-2014. Her landmark book the The Voice and the Actor is a cornerstone for many voice training books and teachers who came after.
John Barton Playing Shakespeare (speaking of cornerstones.) John Barton’s Playing Shakespeare series is also regarded as foundational. He says in the video that he had been asked to write a book but he always felt that “each actor and his experience is worth many books.” That might be particularly true when you assemble Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, and Ben Kingsley. These old VHS tapes were hard to get a hold of when I was a teenager and there was a mysterious legend built up around them. I eventually found all of them in the Los Angeles Public Library. Buying a copy both then and now was and is expensive. Now you can watch all nine episodes on YouTube. Barton did eventually write a book based on these workshops, but to follow his advice, you should really witness these actors take on the role of “explorers or detectives.”
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. This is an invaluable resource for me. I was teaching Shakespeare 20 years ago to children ages 11-15. But that seems like a lifetime ago. This book unlocks a lot of the old doors that I was exploring back then. When you think about it, before television and radio, all we had for entertainment was reading stories out loud to each other. This book is great because it makes Shakespeare approachable as read aloud material for families and adds elements of play. You can hear an interview where he explains his process and gives some other reading suggestions on another fantastic podcast the Read Aloud Revival.
Shakespeare Club presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Friday at 4:00pm and Saturday at 12:00pm at the American School of Wroclaw Library. The show is around 45 minutes and appropriate for All Ages. You can join the event by clicking here. Or you can join the Shakespeare Club group here.