Thursday, March 13, 2008

Much Ado....for Kids?

So I notice via  Bard In Boston that a local production of Much Ado begins soon.  It got me thinking, maybe this would be a good time to introduce my kids to a real Shakespeare show?  I'm not sure if the 3yr old could sit still that long, but the 5yr old might.  I saw Much Ado a couple years back when they did it on the Common, and I remember them playing it up very slapstick, almost like a Scooby-Doo cartoon (where Benedick is listening to his friends talk, stalking silently behind them and then freezing like a statue every time they turn around).  There's no violence to speak of, other than the whole "We think Hero's dead but not really" thing.

Or, she might not be ready for it at all.  So I thought I'd throw it out there.  Got any experience with 5yr olds at Shakespeare shows, particularly this one?  I also don't want to be disruptive by having her be the only one in attendance (which I'm sure would contribute to making her more uncomfortable than she'd normally be).

(Context, for my new readers - my kids know about Shakespeare.  They know who he was, and they know the general plot to many of the stories, including Tempest, Twelfth Night, R&J, and King Lear.  I've never tried to work through the text with them at this age, but I have told them the stories to the best of my ability and answered all of their questions, of which there are many.)


Alan K.Farrar said...

I'd pre-view it first - can be 'good fun' but if you get a "serious" production - yawn time.
The Film is pretty good (one given the 1930's treatment).

C. B. James said...

My partner was the house manager at Berkeley Rep for over a year, and he has very mixed things to say about taking young kids to the theatre. It really depends on the child and on the parents. It can be a very long night for younger children. Shorter shows are a better bet as an introduction to live theatre, there are many shows designed for children under 9.

The other problem is you just never know about the production. You can call the theatre before hand and ask if it's okay for younger children. As I recall the more recent film had too much nudity in it to show to my students (middle schoolers). My partner once had to tell a teacher with a buss full of graduating 8th graders that they play had a nude scene. They had to go home, but they did avoid a lot of angry parent phone calls.

Most theatre companies will be happy to let you know up front if the production is appropriate for children. They all want happy customers and even happier subscribers.

Alan K.Farrar said...

Goodness - nudity? Shock horror!
My part of Europe the kids wouldn't even notice.
And, as a once-upon-a-time keep-kids-out-ist, I have to say the problem is usually with a large mass of the things - individual and small they have the critical sense to fall asleep in the boring bits.
Wish I could re-develop the faculty - very useful for most Hamlets.

Shakespeare Teacher said...

I've done a good deal of Shakespeare with my 2nd and 3rd grade students and they have really been able to enjoy full-length performances in Ashland...but I think 5 is a little young. Kinders at our school have been able to enjoy both the Much Ado and Midsummer productions we've put on (though they've been adaptations and only 45mins long). As in previous comment, it totally depends on the child... but I'd say 7 is about the right time.