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Shakespeare teaching ideas Performing Shakespeare for kids

Add a Commercial!

Have you ever been in a position where you have some decent actors that have maybe one, two, or possibly no lines? You want to give them a little more meat for the play, but you don’t quite have the material to fit in those extra kids?

Well, a homeschool mom gave me an idea that I have used multiple times over the years, with much success. And more importantly, the kids (and parents!) absolutely love it! 

You do a commercial in the middle of your play. 

What?!?! 

That’s right, a commercial.

Your show is now officially “sponsored” by something related to the play’s context. For example, in Treasure Island for Kids, the kids did “Pirate Insurance” (check out the vid below) where they did a conglomeration between Geico and the Allstate theme. It was hilarious.

Another time, when we performed Frankenstein for Kids, since the play references pitchforks, the kids came up with the idea of “The Pitchfork 5000, rid all your monster woes!” Again, hilarious! There have been many others.

The Pitchfork 5000!

What I typically do is give three or four kids who have decent skills the ability to create and write their own one to two minute script. (I put one in charge or nothing will get done!) Once I approve the script or tweak it to make it appropriate I let them practice on their own; it’s their project, from direction to rehearsal to creation of props, and everything else associated with creating the one to two minute commercial. It’s like writing a small play. It educates then about the basic skill set and realization of what goes into scripting a play.

The kids typically have amazing fun at it, one of my favorites is the “ShakeSpotify” that the kids created with a Henry the Beat Shakespeare rap in the middle of it! (Henry V for Kids performance) And yes, you guessed it… hilarious!

Typically during the play, about halfway through, I find a natural break and I will hop on stage, and say something to the effect of, “I hope you are all enjoying our play, but now a quick word for our sponsor. In which the kids run on stage, do their thing, then exit. At that point, I hop on and say something witty like, “and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.” The parents love it, the kids love it, and I have now created more activities for kids who had limited exposure on stage. As well as, more activities to keep them busy off-stage!

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By 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.

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