“All the World’s a Stage”

With these words from Act 2, Scene 7 of As You Like It, the character of Jacques begins a soliloquy that reminds his audience of the parallels between human life and theatrical enterprise: “One man in his time plays many parts,” moving from birth to old age.

What we love about this speech – aside from its wisdom and humor! – is the fact that it captures several different characters. From the whining schoolboy (mentioned in our earlier post) to the swooning romantic, and more besides, there are indeed “many parts” for a young actor to play in a single monologue. Have a look at it here.

What’s even better is the fact that you can distribute the speech to several children who are perhaps too shy to tackle a soliloquy on their own. Have each child take a section and act out their character(s) within the monologue, assuming in turns the various roles Shakespeare cites. Also fun is to rehearse through improvisation: establish a scenario – a picnic at a park, or a birthday party – and have the children engage with each other in the attitude of their given part. (For more about improv, check out this resource.)

Favorite Books about Shakespeare: “Bard of Avon”

As every parent and educator knows, there are some books that just get to the heart of what you are trying to teach – whether it’s life lessons or school lessons! We at Shakespeare For Our Children have a library of works that have helped us immeasurably in our teaching, and every so often we will highlight one of our favorites.

This week, it’s Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema (1992). It explores Shakespeare’s life and early inspirations with beautiful prose and illustrations – a worthy tribute to the Bard that will appeal to young children and early adolescents alike. Find it on Amazon.

Now, one of our favorite passages from the book: “No amount of education could have given [Shakespeare] his high intelligence, amazing memory, artistic sensitivity, imagination, and profound understanding of the human heart. Just to know him was to realize the genius he was. ‘He was not of an age,’ wrote his friend Ben Jonson, ‘But for all time.’” Happy reading!