Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Bard! Let's Have Some Elizabethan Fun...


Hi there, friends!

That cake above?
That's a "wedding cake" I made for my kids'
"Midsummer Night's Dream" cast party.
We'll get to that in just a bit!

So, April 23rd!!
We're huge fans of the Bard around here!
I'm an English major, 
a former elementary teacher, 
and a current homeschooling Mom.
So, we live and breath Will's life and works!
Everyone knows a little about the Bard...
But I've kinda made it my life's mission 
( okay, one of my life's missions)
to drench the boys in his works,
read his original scripts and  sonnets,
dramatize his plays
and learn alllll about his life.
We haven't yet been to England to visit his home, but one of these years, 
we do hope to hop across the pond to

In fact, did you know........

~~~"Hamlet" is his longest play at 4, 042 lines? ~~~

~~~"Comedy of Errors" is his shortest play at  1,787 lines?~~~

~~~That these commonly used expressions are from his works?.........

"All the world's a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players."
From As You Like It, Act 2, scene 7, lines 145 ff.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
From Dick the butcher's speech in Henry VI, Part ii. Act 4, scene 2, line 77.

"A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
From Richard III. Act 5, scene 4, line 7.

"Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,/ Take him and cut him out in little stars,"
From Juliet’s speech in Romeo and Juliet. Act 3, scene 2, lines 23 ff.

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow"
From Juliet’s speech in Romeo and Juliet. Act 2, scene 2, lines 185 ff.
(By the way, "ff" refers to his first folio)

~~~That he died on his 52nd birthday?~~~

Here are some of the places we "met" Will and 
were lucky enough to be able to infuse his writings into our travels:
Below is a shot outside the theater of 
in, you got it,
Plymouth, MA.!
Seriously, go check out their site.
We were camping nearby and touring Plimoth Plantation in July 2011.
 Of course, the Plimoth Players' staging by 6 actors ( SIX )
 rotating all   (yes, ALL ) 
the roles  in the original script of
"A Midsummer Night's Dream,"
was, high on our list of 17th century to-do's.
It may be some time since you've read the play.
Here's how they did it:
The siz actors were able to take roles in each of the three subplots,
 if you will, within the story...
Those three distinct "groups" are
"the workmen,"
"the fairies,"
and "the royals."
It may be a little disconcerting to see Hermia appearing as Francis Flute 
and then again as Puck...but that's how they did it! and they were MARVELOUS.
My kids were preparing to stage an unabridged production of a Midsummer Night's Dream just a few months after we saw the Plimoth Players 
and so they knew the play extremely well.
They truly got a kick out of how the men 
( yes, all men, true to Shakespeare's original troupe,
The Blackfriars of the Globe Theater)
 acted their hearts out in three, and sometimes a fourth smaller role, apiece.
What talent and dedication!
Here's the frieze outside of 
for A Midsummer Night;s Dream.
We took this shot also in the summer of 2011 during what we call our
"Once Upon America trip....."
Which included Boston/Plimoth, Philly, DC and Gettrysburg.
If you have never been to this library in DC, you are missing a truly grand, 
informative, unparalleled experience.
Even those who are not huge fans of the Bard can wander its halls
 and gaze at the exhibits, getting lost forever.

Outside the entry by the friezes for each of his works.
It was 100 degrees in DC that day!

Inside the library:

The boys by a first folio of "Hamlet," 
which they staged the month prior to our trip to DC!
K played the title role (  !! ) and 
T played three secondary roles.
Those were Osric, Francisco and the Player King,
They were 11 and 7, respectively.

Below is a sword used during a Folger production of the scene
in which  Demetrius  "hunts" for Puck 
in, what else?
"A Midsummer Night's Dream!"
Yes indeed, K was happy to see this, as he played 
Demetrius a few months later in our production of "Midsummer."

The remarkable thing about kids is that they 
accomplish more than you'd expect of them, no?
Talk about rising to the occasion?
Give an 8 year old an unabridged Shakespearean script;
tell him he's got three weeks to get it  memorized
and voila!
They're unreal!
Our former home school group produced a few of the Bard's well known works.
My kids and I were instrumental in the behind-the-scenes
 necessities of the staging, 
PR, social media, and producing.
And I managed
the general backstage craziness during rehearsals and the shows
in all the youth productions, kids ages 6-12.
But... amazing.
Here are a few pictures of a few of our endeavors:

June 2011
We used this script:

K, (Hamlet) act 1
Ghost on right
Marcellus and Horation on left

"...whether tis nobler in the mind
to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune..."
Above, K's monolgue

Oops, Hamlet killed the wrong guy and now, 
has to dispose of Polonius's body!

Will Hamlet seize this opportunity to kill Claudius 
as the latter is confessing his murder of the king?

Here, K (Hamlet) tells the head of the troupe of actors that he'd 
like a play staged for the royals.
We know though, that he'd like to
"catch the conscience of the king."

T, as the player king, feigns dead in 
"the play within the play."

T, again...this time as Osric,
 bringing a message to Hamlet from Claudius about the ensuing sword fight.

"A hit, a palpable hit!"
Hamlet and Laertes fight to the death

October 2011 
~ A Midsummer Night's Dream~
Here's the script we used:

T played the pompous Egeus, father of Hermia...

..who asks Theseus, Duke of Athens,
 to put his daughter to death
as she will not marry the man of HIS choice, Demetrius
(played by K, in green).
She insists on marrying Lysander (in purple.white)

Above, the workmen.
Here's T, again....also playing Francis Flute, the bellows mender 
and begging of Quince, 
who is trying to organize a skit for the Duke's wedding show:
"Nay, faith, let me not play a woman.
I have a beard coming!"

Above, K "hunts" for the elusive Puck in the dark woods.

"Oh wall, full often hast thou heard my moans
 for parting my fair Pyramus and me..."
The shots above and below were of the workmen's 
"play within the play."
Lemme tell ya,
it brought down the house.
The inhibition with which Flute ( T) 
who plays Thisbe before the Duke and the "lovers"
for their wedding party
was astounding.
Pyramus ( on the floor below)
and Thisbe (T in drag)
were jaw dropping, I have to gush.
for the Bard's hilarity in this scene.

T hams it up and is thrilled to be onstage;
 yet he worked very hard to  memorize
 three roles for this classic and well loved Shakespearean comedy.
K ( in green in the background, at the wedding)

There's the "man" of the hour.
Legend has it that Will would scribble
DRaG to describe "dressed as girl,"
in the plays in which a man would play a woman in plays within his plays.
Hence the term "dressed in drag."

Now, if you're still here, God bless you!
Discussing the Bard, well, you can tell it's one of my passions!
Now, for the cake!

Here it is, again:
And it's  SO simple....

Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines white cake mix.
I know, I know.
But I made this for the cast party, as you know,
 and who had time with all the staging details, photographing 
and creating the cast photo board, making the program, 
running lines with Demetrius, Flute, Thisbe AND Egeus,
 to concoct a completely homemade cake?

Here's what I did:
Make the batter and pour into two heart shaped pans,
One larger than the other.

Cake Stand:
I went to Michael's and bought this tiered stacker as well as the "columns"
The Wilton tiered stacking stands are so much cheaper at Michael's!

Perfect for the setting of Midsummer, right?

I also used this cake stand for my son's 10th birthday party.
Here are the pictures, 


I wrote a classic line from Midsummer on the cake
"Lord what fools these mortals be,"
using Wilton's cookie icing and a scattered a few of the Wilton rosettes around too,
to give it a wedding-y effect.
Oh, I also used some edible silver glitter to give
 the cake a pretty, wedding-ish look.

That's it! Easy!

I placed this picture of Will in a gold frame nearby too...

And here's the version of the cake that we made for 
our birthday party for the Bard tonight:

By the way, do you know this book, 
The Quest for Shakespeare?
If not, what ARE you waiting for?
Go read it and gain some insight into 
Catholicism in the Shakespeare family in 17th century England, 
 as well as elements of the Faith that are obviously 
(and not so obviously) infused within his works.

Now, if you've not seen this episode of Doctor Who, 
 go here and watch it now.
Seriously, now.

 from BBC's site

And for some more  Whovian-Bard fun, click my post right here

Thank you for spending some of your precious time today
here at my home on the web! 

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Until next time,


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  1. WONDERFUL!!! And two pluses: Hamlet is my favorite, and I have definitely seen the Doctor Who episode with Shakespeare!!! LOL..but of course, you knew that :) Thank you so much for all your wonderful wise and fun-filled insight on this for children. Just grand!!

    xoxox Denise

    1. Thanks Dense, for stopping in and saying hi!

      Love your compliment...made my day!

  2. how fun my daughter would love to be in those plays. We have read Shakespeare mostly the comedy and my oldest loves them. Visiting Stratford on Avon 2 years ago was so special for me to share with my daughter. I cant wait to bring out my old high school book on Shakespeare and go over it with her...I never thought to have a cake in his honor...kids always love cake....great post and love seeing your enthusiasmfor shakespeare:-)

    1. Hey,thanks for coming over, AnnMarie and saying hi!
      Oh my, I'd love to see your pics on your S on A trip! WOW!!

      Have a lovely night, friend!

  3. Chris,

    What a wonderful post! We're all HUGE Shakespeare fans here. It's our ambition to read and see all Shakespeare's plays before we finish homeschooling. Not too many more to go!

    We've read the book "The Quest for Shakespeare" too. We've also got "Through Shakespeare's Eyes" by the same author.

    The photos are wonderful! Looks like all the kids had a fantastic time.

    It's so lovely to meet another passionate Shakespeare fan.

    God bless!

    1. Thank you so much Sue!!

      Wow, that's some ambition. Good for you! Yours would love to see the Folger in DC...I think you'd all get lost in it for hours and hours. Then, there's the gift shoppe, when you;re done with the exhibits...try getting any fan of the Bard out of THERE!

      I have not read Through Sh Eyes..thanks for rec it!

      Thanks for stopping in, Sue!

  4. Wow! I am so impressed how you have exposed your young children to Shakespeare. You need to come and tutor my kids in this for me! I was a history teacher. I'd be happy to swap lessons with you, lol! Beautiful cake! Thanks so much for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday!" I always enjoy when you link up. God bless, Lisa

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Lisa!! Love when you come by to say hi, friend!


      And you are so welcome. Your recipe hop is the best!

  5. Lovely post, wow you have been so busy :)Thanks for linking up to Creative Mondays ...

    1. Claire
      Thanks so much for stopping in and for the kind words!

      Love linking to your CM hop!

      Have a lovely day!

  6. Wow--you have so many cool ways to experience Shakespeare here! I feel like I've just met you and you've already inspired me to introduce my kids to a whole new body of work. I seriously love the pictures of the boys acting out Hamlet, and I love that you celebrate Will's birthday!! I'm so glad you shared it at Teach Me Tuesday at Preschool Powol Packets!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Carla!!
      Your kind words made my day! I can;t wait to hear how your kids enjoy the Bard!!

      Always love your visits, friend!

  7. What wonderful experiences you're sharing with your children. I'm jealous of the sword fighting scene they got to act out. Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday at Organized 31.

    1. THANK YOU so much, Susan, for your kind words and for taking the time to stop over and comment!

      Yes, the sword fight from "Hamlet" was a TON of fun!

      Have a lovely day!

  8. wow what fun and a lovely cake. I loved homeschooling and all the opportunities the boys had.

    1. Thanks Dawn!
      I appreciate your visit!!

      Yes, HSing has been quite a journey for us. We've been very lucky!
      Take care and thank you hosting your recipe hop!

  9. Wow, what wonderful experiences you have given your kids!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

    1. Thank you, Carrie!
      Love your hop. Looking forward to more of your link up parties!

  10. Hi Chris! What a great post, and Shakespeare activities for your children. Wow! You're super homeschooler mom! :) Thank you for linking up at Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #7.

    1. Frances~
      THANK YOU for the kind words! I appreciate your visit!
      Thanks for stopping by ~~
      Take care

  11. THIS. IS. AWESOOOOOOME!!! The great thing is that we are supposed to get into Shakespeare by the end of the year so I am def pinning this! Get this...my oldest is 12 & willingly reads Shakespeare's Sonnets. A little while back I found a site that has audio of David Tennant reading them! I showed her & she almost melted...lol. That just intensified her love for Shakespeare even more! If you haven't heard it let me know & I'll find the link for you. :)

    1. Wow, how exciting...your 12 yo is a huge fan of the Bard already! How terrific is that? Yesyesyes, I'd love to hear more abt David reading the Sonnets....thanks you ( I left a com on your FB page....yes I really appreciate that!)

      Always love your visits, Jess! Thanks so much...

  12. It looks like your kids had so much fun! I can't wait until mine are old enough to do that sort of thing =)

    1. Thanks so very much Amy!
      it goes quickly...before you know it, your kids WILL be old enough to enjoy!!
      So appreciate your visit!

  13. WOW Chris! All your ideas look fantastic! I am completely on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to "Bard" education and appreciation. Sad, I know. But, I know where to come for inspiration and Bard education! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Tracy...but it's just that you haven't yet approached the Bard's works....once you jump in, even with just one of his plays, you'll be loving his works and wanting more. With us, the opportunity to learn about him through travel to Plimoth and through local theater opps, just made it easier!

      Enjoy it all and thanks for visiting my friend!

  14. Patrick would count the bodies as I read the plays, the more dead, the better!
    One of my favorite things to say to my girls: "If I were but a glove upon thy hand that I might tough thy cheek."

    1. WOW< love love love your quote share!!

      So true, right? the dead count!

      Thanks Kiernan for stopping by!


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