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Brendan P. Kelso, known to the kids as Professor Peculiar because of his unique and humorous personality, came to writing modified Shakespeare scripts when he was taking time off from work to be at home with his son. "It just grew from there" Within months, he was being asked to offer classes in various locations and acting organizations along the coast of California. Employed as an engineer, Brendan never thought about writing. But he has always stated, "There is no better way to learn than to have fun!" Brendan makes his home on the central coast of California and loves to spend time with his wife and son.
I read "Julius Caesar" first with my 8 year-old son and he loved it. After all it had ghosts and sword swinging... so what's not for a boy to love.
He liked it so much, in fact, that he immediately asked that we re-read the story again, this time a longer version, and this time with the aid of his older sister -- so we could share out the rolls.
We did, and the three of us had a blast.
THE SKINNY::: This book is so much fun. The parts that should have been grisly were downright funny -- which is why my kids wanted to read it again and again.
I think that having three different stagings makes the plays very adaptable to different situations. You can essentially pick the length and degree of complexity that best fits your situation.
The book contains 3 slightly different versions of the play. All of the versions take about 10-15 minutes to read or act out, but the number of speaking parts .AND. the degree of plot complexity varies.
This is the second book in this series that we've read, and I must say that it won't be the last. I simply adore that I can introduce Shakespeare to my children much earlier than I had thought possible. We discuss the plays on their level, and it introduces them to the Bard's best known lines so that when we hear them in other places, we are reminded of where the phrases come from.
The kids act these out over and over again. They are witty -- they tell the story, they engage the kids, you can add a ton of "extras" to the scenes, random friends can jump in -- this is great for building inside jokes among your kids. And who doesn't love fake-stabbing? (Spoiler -- in one of the melodramas, Brutus has nothing to lose, so he stabs the narrator. Good times!)
I will be getting more form this series -- this is the most fun we've had at dinner for quite a while.
Brendan Kelso and Khara Oliver introduce children to Shakespeare stories through melodramatic, largely paraphrased “10 minutes or so” scripts through their Playing with Plays series. The plays are intended for pure fun with a focus on telling the main plot points of each story.
Each play is comically rendered to appeal to children as young as seven. Even Julius Caesar has comic style reflected in the Soothsayer’s line to Caesar after “The ides of March are come”:
“In other words, continue watching your back, buddy!”
Playing with Plays lives up to its name with fun as the focus. Intermittent Shakespeare passages appear from time to time and introduce kids to some new vocabulary and rhythm. An example from Twelfth Night:
“O time, though must untangle this, not I; it is too hard a knot for me to untie!”
If time is limited and you want to spend a little of it romping in an amusing Shakespearean playground, then Playing with Plays might be a good place to start exploring the plays with your kids. “Let the celebrating begin!”
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