About brendan kelso

Brendan is the main creative source and author behind Playing With Plays and the infamous Shakespeare for Kids series. You can typically find him inventing by day, playing with his family by night, and writing by very late night.

TEACHERS ONLY – Shhh… for after the show…

Shakespeare, not stirredOkay, this is just a fun post about a book I came across.  I can’t speak for it directly, but it looks fun.  Shakespeare, Not Stirred.  Here’s the excerpt from Amazon:

In Shakespeare, Not Stirred, two professors mix equal parts booze and Bard to help you through your everyday dramas. It’s like having Shakespeare right there in your living room, downing a great drink … Continue reading

Portable Sides for Easy Stage Productions Anywhere!

Figure 9 - complete assembly

So, I teach Shakespeare for Kids classes all over the place, and most venues I teach at do not come with stages. I’ve performed in gyms, dance rooms, dojos, boyscout meeting areas, and classrooms. One thing is consistent, I need a place for the actors to go “off-stage”. That is why I created easy-to-assemble sides, built to travel and make an instant performance space!

Below are the simple instructions for the inexpensive and portable sides. Once created, these sides take about 10 minutes to put up and take down, which makes them GREAT for quick performances like Continue reading

Script Highlighting – If it’s blue, it’s what you do!

blue highlighter for script highlighting

I work with dozens and dozens of kids every year on memorizing lines and learning blocking while directing and teaching my Shakespeare for Kids plays. There’s a technique that I learned from another one of my instructors, Angi, about script highlighting that I want to share with you. Essentially, many of these kids have never been taught how to highlight or what basic blocking and stage directions are. So, to make it easy to teach these new kids, I’ve created a little saying for the kids to catch on to: IF IT’S YELLOW, IT’S WHAT YOU KNOW; IF IT’S BLUE, … Continue reading

Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo

Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo Card

Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo CardOk, let’s start with, I didn’t make this… but, it’s pretty darn cool! (credit to Mya Gosling) Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo.  My first thought was, it’s going to be a pretty long game.  But, my second thought was to actually make this into a game.  Have all the different scenes that relate to the squares put in the “Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo” bag.  Pull out the … Continue reading

Crystal Ball for Caesar – Magic 8-ball!

magic 8-ball

So, I always have fun and do my best to work the laughs for the audience in my melodramatic Shakespeare for Kids plays.  That’s certainly true with my performance of Julius Caesar for Kids! I used one specific prop to get some laughs. The Magic 8 Ball! (find it here on Amazon) That’s right, the soothsayer came out to warn Caesar about the “Ides of March” and then pulled out the Magic 8-ball to prove it so! The audience loved it, and, more importantly, the kids loved using it! Fun for all!

Enjoy! Continue reading

Simple and Free Caesar Costumes – Toga!

bed sheet toga

Two of my Shakespeare for Kids books, Julius Caesar and Hamlet, have the need for some very simple costume material: bed sheets for toga robes. All those Roman kids wear togas and Hamlet’s dad is, of course, a ghost. Both are very simple to costume up for the stage, just get some bed sheets. However, even the cheapest bed sheets are about $4-5 a piece… too pricey for my blood. But, there is a GREAT and inexpensive solution, your local hotel. (see below for some fun photos)

All hotels go through bed sheets all … Continue reading

Long John Silver Wooden Leg

Wooden leg sock set

Wooden leg sock setSo, I recently did the play, Treasure Island for Kids, and it was an absolute blast. However, when it came to costumes, those were relatively easy, until… Long John Silver.  How do I show a wooden leg on a kid, on stage? I can’t have him hoping around the entire time, bound to cause tripping issues.  I can’t tie up his leg behind him, something about … Continue reading