The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07376  Tuesday, 12 March 2002

From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 11 Mar 2002 20:13:48 -0000
Subject: 13.0728 Re: MND Adaptation for Children?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0728 Re: MND Adaptation for Children?

> Thomas Larque writes, "I also expected to hear from those who consider
> any introduction of Shakespeare to children to be futile (whether in
> original language or in adaptation) and that viewpoint seems to have
> remained surprisingly unexpressed in this exchange - unless Martin
> Steward's tongue-in-cheek post strays into that territory".

>The remarks
> of mine were concerning the use of children's drama from the early
> modern stage for modern children's productions. I can assure Thomas that
> I was in earnest, not because I think introducing Shakespeare to
> youngsters is futile (that would be professional suicide!!!!), but
> because there is so much tremendous repertoire out there which just
> doesn't get read/performed/acted/enjoyed very much. Does it really
> strike other list members as such a crazy idea? I am not a teacher of
> young children, so maybe I am just overestimating their ability to cope
> with old plays that aren't Shakespeare.

I apologise to Martin Steward for my over-hasty assumption that his
comments were meant to be ironic.  I didn't pick up on the fact that the
play that he suggested was originally performed by a Children's Company
(and didn't have his post in front of me to reread it).  Personally I
would be delighted to see non-Shakespearean plays in performance,
whether performed by children or adults.

I don't have a very detailed knowledge of the Children's Drama of
Shakespeare's time, but I would foresee some problems with teaching
children to perform this sort of non-Shakespearean Renaissance drama due
to the lack of the sort of extensive and simplified commentary that is
available for Shakespeare, the fact that Shakespeare has been absorbed
into our modern language and literary culture more than any of his
fellow playwrights - so that we all start with a mild foreknowledge of
many aspects of his works, and the fact that much of the Children's
drama was deeply satirical in a way that it is now quite difficult to

Despite this, I would be delighted if somebody attempted to recreate a
Children's production with children of the correct age.  Has that ever
been done?

I suppose that I was so heavily expecting a negative response from the
"Renaissance Theatre is only for the over-40s" lobby that I misread
Martin Steward's post in line with my expectations.  Sorry.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"

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