Many elementary educators have inquired about a kid friendly movie version of Shakespeare’s plays to show their students. The hope is that by exposing them to a movie version in lieu of the limited accessibility of a stage production, they can grasp the language more quickly by hearing and seeing it performed by professionals.
One may certainly opt for screening a number of Hollywood or BBC produced movies with students (with a pre-screening by the teacher of course for appropriateness). You may also opt for the BBC’s animated tales, which does use the language but is notably large on narration. However, we’ve found an abridged version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced with non-professional 3rd grade actors, but with very high production value.
Most of the children are convincing actors and the narrator is played by actress Valerie Mahaffey. Mahaffey has a notable career as a television, film and Broadway actress. And her husband is Joseph Kell, a professional actor and director and the cinematographer for the DVD.
The movie, set up with clever narration (not too much, not too little) by Mahaffey and her gang of mini-fairies, “Stevie and the Sprites,” help to clarify the plot and give commentary on the events of the story as they unfold.
The plot of the mechanicals is somewhat downplayed in this version and so is Bottom’s bravado. But the tracking of the lovers’ storyline is quite comprehensive and entertaining.
What’s more, it’s well done Shakespeare from the mouths of babes. This is truly a great resource for elementary educators of Shakespeare everywhere.
To view the trailer for this DVD and for more information on how to purchase a copy, visit the Midsummer Project Google Site