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What Is The Best Shakespeare For Young People?

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Bil Nutt Profile
Bil Nutt answered
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM is fun, has magical characters, confusion about identities, and a broad physical comedy (courtesy of the mechanicals). I used an adaptation with my 3rd and 4th grade students last year and they loved it.

ROMEO AND JULIET is often one of the first tragedies studied in school, partly because its action is quite straightforward and linear (with few subplots), and partly because it involves young people as the protagonist. The 8th graders in my school district study this play as their first in-depth Shakespeare study, and they frequently respond to it. (Honestly, it's not one of my favorites. But what do I know? )

MACBETH has witches and (like R&J) a linear plot. It's rather straightforward in its themes of ambition.

For the record, my first full exposure to Shakespeare was THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. I had a teacher who put the issue of Shylock and charges of anti-Semitism in perspective, but it requires a delicate touch.

Hope this helps!
Mark Westbrook Profile
Mark Westbrook answered
Actually, I would say that most Shakespeare plays are as accessible or not as you want them to be, because they can be studied on such a range of levels. Depth is all that changes depending upon the level of he students. One can simply act out the stories in your own words with people of any level, one can study the complex poetic differences between sonnets and his later plays.

But young people might best benefit from some of the lighter plays such a Much Ado About Nothing or the simpler plays like Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. I think that the themes and stories of these three plays are accessible by most children who can read and understand. It's probably best not to start reading your children Shakespeare as bed time stories, although...Orson Welles' mother apparently did it.

The sonnets can be used to teach people about poetry and comprehension.
robert williams Profile
robert williams answered
It is recommended, that people beginning to read Shakespeare, ought to start with either 'Romeo and Juliet' or, 'Richard 11'. The former because it is a fast moving, four day extravaganza of street fighting, and romantic love, and the second because an entire English dynasty depended on the schizophrenic outbursts of a very disturbed monarch.

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