The works of Shakespeare are becoming more familiar to pupils of primary age but finding a suitable version of the Bard's texts for young people to read and perform is not always easy. Any production of Shakespeare will usually require some judicious editing of the script. In this series, writer and director Carl Heap has slimmed down five titles to a running time of 70 minutes each.
In 2005 the National Theatre approached Heap to produce the first of several Shakespeare plays suitable for touring to 8-11 year-olds in London primary schools. These were to be performed by six actors which meant that a lot of doubling had to take place. Of course it is not necessary to stick to six actors - each of the plays can be performed by much larger casts. The author has kept much of Shakespeare's original language and made some subtle changes to vocabulary - for example 'nuptial hour' becomes 'wedding day', 'shrift' becomes 'confession' and 'niggard' becomes 'miser'.
Due to the original small cast-sizes some dramatic changes have been made - Puck becomes a puppet, his speeches are cut and the character of Paris is represented by a portrait. Carl Heap is a seasoned theatre producer and each of the scripts have been adapted for performance, producing some amusing perspectives, such as picnicking bird-watchers putting on their own performance of Macbeth. These are amusing and ingenious solutions but there is no why reason why they should be adhered to.
These adaptations provide useful texts for teachers to draw on - or for anyone who may be looking for 'potted' versions of:
Romeo and Juliet
A Midummer Night's Dream