The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0560  Friday, 27 February 2004

From:           Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 26 Feb 2004 14:57:48 -0800
Subject:        Children and Shakespeare

A thread not long ago took both sides of the question of Shakespeare's
appropriateness for children.  I ran across this interesting article
about how a library paraprofessional and her grad-student husband
present Shakespeare to kids 5 and up:

Library series presents scenes, then 'translation'

Tribune Correspondent

South Bend (Indiana) Tribune, February 26, 2004


In days of yore, folks of all ages packed the Globe Theatre in London to
hear the latest offering from the Immortal Bard. From the youngest tot
to the oldest grand dame, the well-crafted words were readily understood.

Not so in today's world, which is one reason Yvette Couser, children's
paraprofessional at the Francis Branch of the St.  Joseph County Public
Library, decided to create an after-school series for youngsters on the

"It's practically a foreign language to us," Couser commented.

The "After School Special: Shakespeare Snack Series" started Tuesday and
will continue for five additional Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. It will give
children ages 6 and up a chance to grow in understanding of
Shakespeare's English, and his work.

Using "Twelfth Night," Couser and her husband, Jonathan, will present
scenes from the play in their original form, then offer them translated
into modern English. Each session will last approximately one hour.

"We'll be doing one act per week," Couser explained. "Twelfth Night" has
five acts, with about five scenes per act. The presentations will be
geared for elementary and middle school students, but older teens --
even parents -- may enjoy this exploration of classic theater.

This particular play was chosen because it's "accessible," according to
Couser. "It's not dark. It's one of Shakespeare's nicest comedies."

Also, the dialogue itself is "not all in iambic pentameter; it's more
like prose."

With Jonathan Couser currently studying for his Ph.D. in medieval
history at the University of Notre Dame, one part of the presentation
will involve highlighting the historical aspects of the play. The
relevancy of the action, both when it was written and in modern day,
will be touched on, in addition to the Cousers outlining what happens in
the play itself.

Yvette Couser and her husband both have theater backgrounds, and hope
the series will "get the kids excited about theater and writing plays."
On the last day of the series, those who participate will even have the
opportunity to present scenes from the text they've learned.

"It'll be more like a workshop," that last day, Couser remarked.

"We'll show the group how they'd approach the play if they were going to
perform it."

Already, there are 30 youngsters signed up for the series, with the
maximum number being 60. Couser said she believed this type of program,
while considered "nontraditional" in many ways, is ideal for children
who are home-schooled.

This being the first time such a series is taking place, Couser hopes
things will go well, and may consider holding similar events in the
future, using other Shakespeare plays.

Pre-registration is necessary for the series, which is free of charge.
Those who wish more information, or want to register may call the
Francis Branch reference desk at (574) 282-4641.

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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