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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: November ::
Shakespeare for children?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0577  Wednesday, 18 November 2009

[1] From:   Chris Jacobs <
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     Date:   Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 08:31:22 +0800
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

[2] From:   Larry Weiss <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 11 Nov 2009 20:17:42 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

[3] From:   David J. Wardell <
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     Date:   Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 09:35:41 -0500
     Subj:   RE: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

[4] From:   Justin Alexander <
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     Date:   Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 12:20:50 -0600
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Chris Jacobs <
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Date:       Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 08:31:22 +0800
Subject: 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

 >Even more attentive reader may have noted that this is not the first
 >time that Terence Hawkes has posed his "Why on earth" or variations
 >thereof question.

Mr Hawkes does seem to have a propensity of playing devil's advocate by 
posting such emotive statements. I enjoy the inevitable responses that 
they evoke. Long may they continue.

Apropos 'Shakespeare for Children'; I have just completed conducting an 
enrichment programme for young teenagers at a school in SE Asia entitled 
"Shakespeare ala Manga", which sought to introduce the Bard's life and 
works in a manner immediately accessible to children of non-English 
speaking cultures. Whilst the attrition rate of participating children 
approached 50%, the remaining group, of 32, emerged with a new found 
excitement, not just in the discovery of the wonders and relevance of 
Shakespeare's language, but also in the joy of creating theatre for 
themselves, and bringing those immortal words to life.

These Children are already talking about next year's programme.

Kindly
Chris Jacobs

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Larry Weiss <
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Date:       Wednesday, 11 Nov 2009 20:17:42 -0500
Subject: 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

Because otherwise they will have to pick it up in the street.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       David J. Wardell <
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Date:       Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 09:35:41 -0500
Subject: 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?
Comment:    RE: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

My children went with me to countless performances in Ashland, Oregon, 
and also London. The secret for me was getting seats on or near the 
front row -- so seeing and hearing wasn't an issue. Their questions and 
comments were more insightful than many adults.

Children's versions weren't necessary -- just good seats.

Come to think of it, my first copy of Shakespeare's works (bought with 
my own money, and which I still have) was probably acquired around age 8-10.

Best regards,
David Wardell

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Justin Alexander <
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Date:       Thursday, 12 Nov 2009 12:20:50 -0600
Subject: 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0566 Shakespeare for children?

Terence Hawkes <
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 >Why on earth would anyone want to expose eight-year-old children to 
Shakespeare?

When I was a wee lad, my mother used to wander around the house quoting 
Shakespeare while doing the chores. Around the time that I was 8 (in the 
2nd grade), I pulled the Folger edition of Henry IV Part 1 off the shelf 
and muscled my way through it. The facing-page notes of the Folger 
edition were quite helpful, but did I fully understand it? Of course not.

(On the other hand, does anyone ever FULLY understand Shakespeare's 
work? Isn't part of the joy of the Bard the fact that we never seem to 
stop finding new layers to peel off the fruit of his mind?)

But was I able to get some pleasure out of it? Yes. And even more 
pleasure out of Branagh's Henry V (which I saw when I was 10)? Yes. And 
even more out of the Guthrie Theater productions of Richard II and Henry 
V (which I saw when I was 12)? Yes.

I think it literally impossible to give a child something which is too 
intellectually challenging to them. Are there challenges which they may 
fail at? Or fail in part? Yes. But such failures are the stuff of 
learning. Such failures are the hurdles which we grow and rise to meet.

Those who treat children as if they were dullards are, in my experience, 
responsible for rearing those who will be dullards as adults.

Justin Alexander

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