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Why you shouldn’t shy away from Shakespeare

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By Campbell Perryplaywright

Is reading Macbeth in class too much toil and trouble? Is studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream a pain in the bottom? Then try Campbell Perry’s inspiring ideas and introduce lower juniors to the great playwright

Be honest! As a teacher of lower juniors, does the thought of working with Shakespeare’s plays make your heart sink or your spirits rise? Or, do you think that there’s no point because the children will come to it when they’re older anyway. Your reaction may depend on your interests as a teacher or, more likely, your own experience of studying Shakespeare at school.

My work as a writer and drama practitioner takes me into a lot of schools, and I have used Shakespeare with children as young as Year 3. These have been practical drama sessions, concentrating on interpretation of the story, savouring some short bits of language and acting out. And before you say that you don’t have time, Shakespeare isn’t suitable for young children or studying it will put them off for life, I want to give you some ideas to explore and develop, which I know will work – and, more importantly, children enjoy them.

Start with the story

Working with the story is, I think, the most important way of introducing children to Shakespeare. Start with a play you know well, such as Macbeth or The Tempest. There are accessible compilations of plays and stories, either in books or on DVDs, to make it easier for you (see Resources).

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