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.

Did Doctor Who write Shakespeare?

I know that question is a bit ridiculous. This is more about an episode of Doctor Who I watched where Shakespeare was the focal point of their adventure. It was quite cleverly written and I found it very interesting. The premise of the story was around Shakespeare’s missing play, Loves Labors Won, and the story behind it.

Now, there is no truth to … Continue reading

Environment is King for Drama

I was talking with a mom earlier this morning, and she said something very interesting. She said that her daughter loves my drama classes, and talks about me frequently when it comes to drama. Although I’m glad I inspire the kids, it’s not the point of this story. What is interesting is she followed up with a different comment, one that puts the previous … Continue reading

Character Line Quantities for Playing With Play Books

Over the years, I have taught EVERY single one of our plays, most of them multiple times, and some of them at least 20 times…. (Hamlet, Midsummer, R&J, Caesar, Macbeth…). But, one of the best tools for me to use is the Character Line Quantities spreadsheet to help me with casting.

A teacher asked me recently, “why don’t you share that?” Which I gladly did. But it hit me, why don’t I share this with EVERYONE?

There’s nothing like casting a play. Trying to figure out dynamics of who can synergize with who; what characters will pull the most … Continue reading

CONFIDENCE – Part 7 of Why Drama is so Important in School

Part 7 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – CONFIDENCE

Confidence in children can be shattered so quickly and many times we don’t even know why. But, what we do know is that confidence can be built. Confidence can have an incredibly strong foundation for the future of a child, if nurtured correctly.

The DEFINITION of confidence: A feeling of … Continue reading

TEAM BUILDING – PART 6 – Why Drama is so Important in School

Part 6 of the 12 part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – TEAM BUILDING

Working together is so important in life, yet we don’t teach this skill anywhere in school. Sure, many kids get some of this piece from sports, but not every kid plays sports. Hence the reason we need more team building activities throughout our schools.

One of the beautiful aspects … Continue reading

The Tempest Thunder Sound

I have directed Shakespeare’s Tempest for Kids at least 6 different times, and the costumes and kids always change. But, one thing is consistent, the THUNDER TUBE! I use this great drum thunder tube by REMO to make all the thunder sounds during the play.

The kids LOVE it… so much that they want to keep playing with it, again and … Continue reading

Treasure Island: Rum or Gum?

I recently had the privilege to watch a video of a school group in New Jersey perform my Treasure Island for Kids, and of course, it was AWESOME! That being said, one thing I kept noticing…. they were saying “Rum” incorrectly… but wait! No, they weren’t, they were saying “Gum”!

When re-writing classics tales like I do, I do my best to stick to the original plotline as much as possible.  However, there are several times where that’s not possible. Sometimes with the length of the story or around specific content covered in the stories.  And Treasure Island is … Continue reading

Shakespeare in Mime

A theater group in India has put together a performance of The Tempest, done completely in mime.  Designed specifically for grade school kids, in the fear that Shakespeare is leaving schools, this performance relies entirely on actions. No words, which makes the story telling that much more challenging.  Read more about this impressive performance here in the New Indian Express.

As a classroom exercise, have your kids mime a short part of one of Shakespeare’s plays. You really need to be expressive and understand the language in order to deliver a mimed performance effectively.  This will be great fun!

Let me know … Continue reading

Analyzing Shakespeare via Online NY Times Photos

This is a great article about a teacher using a very ingenious way to get her kids to learn how to analyze and read into something using context clues, even when they don’t know what they are looking at.  It’s a very clever and creative way to approach this skill set for use when analyzing Shakespeare’s text, but more importantly, a great life skill she is teaching them as well.  Big props to this wonderful high school educator.

By using the NY Times weekly WGOITP post (What’s Going On In This Picture), she was able to get her kids engaged in critical … Continue reading

TOP 10 SHAKESPEAREAN VILLAINS: NUMBER 1

REVEALING THE LOWEST OF THE LOW – THE MOST DEVIOUS SHAKESPEAREAN VILLAIN.

The following posts are by a guest author, Andy McLean, and for Bell Shakespeare in Australia.  But, they are so good, that I have to post and share their great work!

1. IAGO (Othello)
When we asked our global panel of experts to name the Shakespeare villain they most love to hate, there was one character who kept turning up like a bad penny: Iago.

This is a character who is single-mindedly evil. From the opening scene of Othello to the last, Iago does nothing … Continue reading