Being a lover of language, I was very disappointed to discover a severe lack of quality Shakespeare play adaptations available for children. The scripts I came across were simplified to the bare bones of plot, without maintaining any sense of the heightened language or wordplay that make Shakespeare’s plays great. In my adaptations, I strive to make the plays accessible to young actors without sacrificing too much of the magic.
While working with my students, I’ve happily (and somewhat surprisingly) discovered that it is the quality of language that they fall in love with, just as much as the story. Whether it’s Dogberry’s Puns or Puck’s Fairy Song, they’re hooked! The language is the very thing that makes the play memorable. What a wonderful experience to have as a young learner – before the intimidation of Shakespeare sets in.
I hope you too will discover that kids CAN and DO love Shakespeare – when it is introduced in a fun, accessible way.
ABOUT ME – MARIEKA GREENE
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was there that my love of theatre was born. Starting at the age of nine, I acted in various community, college, and repertory theatre productions. In high school, I got my first taste of directing while working on my school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I knew theatre was something I wanted to pursue in college.
My college years where spent in Vermont at Middlebury College where I primarily studied Theatre and English. Shakespeare was a common thread that tied my studies together. My first attempt adapting Much Ado About Nothing was while taking “Shakepeare’s Comedies” through Middlebury’s English Department. I initially wrote it to use at a summer camp were I was working as the Theatre Director. Studying Much Ado About Nothing in an academic setting while writing my children’s version offered great insights and helped me to include key elements of the original piece. While at Middlebury I also acted and stage managed for department productions. This included a semester studying with the London Theatre Exchange while acting in Henry V. My senior year I completed my thesis in directing with the production of a full-length play. In my spare time I enjoyed writing and directing for a local children’s theatre program. In 2004, I graduated from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Theatre and English and a minor in Education.
The semester after graduation I completed my student teaching while assisting in a 4/5th grade classroom in Vermont. I collaborated with my cooperating teacher by writing and directing an original play about Vermont state history. Through its production, students became very familiar with Vermont’s key players in the American Revolution as well as the motivations of statehood. This project convinced me of how the use of theatre can make curriculum memorable.
In 2006 I was lucky enough to find a method of teaching that would allow me to easily incorporate my knowledge of theatre into my classroom. The Storyline Method allows my students to create a setting, their own characters, problem solve and be at the helm of their own learning. As a teacher, I find myself feeling like the director of an intricate production – motivating my actors and engaging my audience. Which, in my classroom, are one in the same.