Not Your Grandfather’s Shakespeare

Not Your Grandfather’s Shakespeare

So we’ve all sat through those high school English classes. You know, the kind where you silently will yourself to become invisible, praying the teacher won’t call on you to read Shakespeare aloud to the whole class. Shakespearean English doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

If this was your introduction to Shakespeare, as it was mine, you likely shut your textbook after the semester and shoved it under your bed to collect dust. It wasn’t until long after those dreaded English classes that I learned the complexities of Shakespeare, the intricate storylines, and the humour in his comedies.

Monster Theatre presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream April 1 at Arts Whistler Live! but this isn’t your average
Shakespeare. Aimed at kids aged five and up, Monster Theatre introduces a love of Shakespeare and the classics by incorporating the kids in the action. In this version of the classic comedy, William Shakespeare acts as a host or director for the performance, but has come up with a serious case of writer’s block. With the audience’s help Shakespeare carefully guides the show through all the major plot points of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with interactive audience participation.

The importance of introducing kids to the classics isn’t lost on Ryan Gladstone, Artistic Director at Monster Theatre. Founded in 2000, Monster Theatre has created over thirty original productions, touring award-winning works locally, regionally, and nationally. We sat down with her to find out what makes their adaptation unique and how their interactive show helps kids experience the magic of Shakespeare.

What techniques do you use to make Shakespeare fun for kids?

Our version is fast and fun and filled with songs, puppets, slapstick comedy as well as the wonderful story from the original.

What will adults be able to take away from the performance as well?

We think that our adaptation is quite original and clever. We have snipped the storyline of the “mechanicals” and replaced it with a story about a playwright, Shakespeare, who has to get his play done in time. We also have fun with gender roles and turn the ‘women aren’t allowed to be actors’ rules from Shakespeare’s day right on its head.

This isn’t your standard Shakespeare adaptation. Tell us how your production differs from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

As mentioned above, our adaptation is really a play about Shakespeare trying to get his script done in time for the Duke’s wedding. But we also have modern dialogue, songs, and social commentary.

Why do you think it’s important for kids to engage with the classics at a young age?

We at Monster Theatre believe that it is our duty as artists to re-tell classic stories and adapt them to make them relevant to today’s audiences. In fact, that’s what Shakespeare himself did!

What do you hope for kids to get out of the show?

Exposure to the classics. But mostly we hope they will laugh!

 

By the end of the story, the young audience will feel like they’ve helped with the show, creating plot twists, characters, surprises, and the story itself all the while learning about the elements of story, the incredible variety and power of the English language, and be exposed to the wonder of Shakespeare and the classics.

With the arrival of some kooky characters, puppets, and a lot of magic this silly, dreamy musical comedy is fun for the whole family and a show not to be missed. Tickets are only $10 and available at artswhistler.com

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