Now that we are bidding adieu to winter, it’s a good time to introduce your students to the joys of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a play that will always evoke the splendor of spring and summer days. This was one of our troupe’s favorite works by Shakespeare, and most popular among the characters was Puck. With his sense of mischief and merriment, Puck is a figure that speaks to the sense of play in all of us, but especially children.
Indeed, one of the first monologues that we worked on with the young actors was the play’s epilogue, in which Puck speaks directly to the audience to apologize “if we shadows have offended.” (Find it here.) It is a perfect piece to help build the confidence of the children: the lines are lighthearted couplets that are easy to remember and fun to say; and the act of directly addressing the audience helps highlight the importance of bridging on- and off-stage worlds. This is, of course, a key element in the spirit of the epilogue itself. For in inviting his audience to regard the play as a shared dream, Puck celebrates the magic of theatre and the bond it creates between actor and audience.
With this in mind, remind your young performer(s) that though they might be standing alone on the stage when speaking this monologue, they are nonetheless sharing an entire world of imagination with the audience – as well as with the character they have created.