Sunday, September 11

The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare

 *This is a MamaBuzz Media review. The product was provided by: for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I hate to admit it, but I've never really been into Shakespeare. I've read a few, back in high school, but never for pleasure. I homeschool my own children now and our method is a classical/Charlotte Mason hybrid which is supposed to include a healthy dose of Shakespeare.

But we've never done it.

Shakespeare always felt too much like poetry to me and you know how I felt about poetry. I learned my lesson with that subject last year, so I decided I'd be a grown up and try adding in Shakespeare to our routine this year. And of course, it's everyone's favorite subject now.

For the younger girls, I purchased A Midsummer Night's Dream for Kids , which I highly recommend, but that's not what this review is about.  For my middle school son and high school son, we went with Sixty Minute Shakespeare.

Sixty Minute Shakespeare is, technically, cheating a bit. In this series, Professor Cass Foster has abridged Shakespeare's plays to make them a bit less intimidating. But don't misunderstand: these are not rewritten! The rich language of the originals is still here, they have just been condensed very carefully. 

For instance, in the original Act III, Scene I, it reads: 

Quince: Pat, pat; and here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake our tiring-house; and we will do it in action as we will do it before the duke.

And in Sixty-Minute Shakespeare, the same line reads:

Quince: Pat, pat; and here's a marvail's convenient place for our rehearsal. We will do it in action as we will do it before the Duke. 

It has left out only the line "This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake our tiring house" which is not integral to the story. 

This method makes it a more simple read, which makes it much less intimidating. The book also includes brief footnotes with definitions of Old English words that help tremendously.  And, at less than $9 per book, they are very inexpensive and well worth the money. 

In addition to being a more gentle introduction for the reader, the book also includes notes for directing the book as a play. This abridged version, with notes for efficient scene changes, rhythms, etc. also makes a gentle introduction to the actual play, not just the text. Pages are included at the end of each scene for director/actor notes. 

By next year, we will begin tackling the unabridged originals. Until then, I am enjoying this version very much and so are my boys. They are getting a true feel for the story as well as a true feel for the voice of Shakespeare. They are truly enjoying it and I think this gentler introduction will make them much more prone to appreciating the original works when we get to them. 

Now, how would you like you're own copy? Five Star Publications has generously agreed to share a copy with a reader. To enter in a drawing, visit Five Star Publications' website to browse the available abridged plays and leave a comment below telling me which of the titles you would prefer to receive.  For a 2nd entry, "like" Five Star's Facebook page.

I highly recommend trying the magical story of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It truly is a delight. 

The contest ends next Friday!


Dawn E said...

I'm going to take your word for it and choose A Midsummer Night's Dream. :) I'll go "like" the page now, too.

Nezzy said...

Shakespeare was usually a 'chore' for me to digest. Probably 'cause I knew that it wasn't gonna end with a 'happily ever after' and ya'll know how much I adore a story with such an ending!

I'm thrilled you've found a series that the kiddos like. The battle is won right there.

God bless and have a super great day sweetie!!! :o)

KathyJo said...

Not cheating, at all! I started Jared on children's versions of Shakespeare when he was young; now he reads Shakespeare for fun. :-) I'll off to see if there are samples up. We do love some Shakespeare around here...

Alexa said...

Hi: I used to have trouble relating to the text when just reading, and a long time ago started watching Shakespeare videos. Hearing the actors use the text conversationally really changed everything for me and now I read it all out loud. I also keep the Riverside complete works of Shakespeare by my bed, cause who doesn't dig a little sonnet before bed?

Granola Girl said...

Scotland PA. is a movie about a burger restaurant set in Scotland, Pennsylvania. It is a parody of the story of MacBeth. So great! Christopher Walken, Andy Dick (before he was over the top) and half a dozen other incredibly funny actors are in it. Your kinds might really like it. There might be a little language, but not much.

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