Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

More Than Papier-Mâché Characters

~by Anthony Del Col

The best Shakespeare production I’ve ever seen was also the worst.

A friend of mine was doing a community theatre production of Titus Andronicus years ago and it was quite bad (with the exception of my friend, who may be reading this… oops!).  Bad acting, directing, sets, costumes and props (a papier-mâché head that looked like it was made by the director’s son – who was in kindergarten).  Yet I left the theatre inspired and dazzled.

Why?  Because it was at that moment that I realized how great Shakespeare’s stories were.  I tried to look past – ignore, really – all of the bad elements of this production to focus on the characters – and they were remarkable.

Issue #5, Page 1* Othello looms over Iago

This is what we’re trying to do with Kill Shakespeare.  No, not make a bad version of Shakespeare but rather create a product and story that will allow us to shine a spotlight on these fantastic characters.  And we do so by putting them into a new scenario where they co-exist with the Bard’s characters from other plays.

 So often it’s difficult to people to get past the language and other surfaces of Shakespeare’s plays.  We’re using a combination of modern-day and Elizabethan English to eliminate that barrier get people into our characters quicker.  Yes, some scholars have objected to this strategy but many have loved it.  The best reviews we have received are those that state that reading our series has made them pick up their Shakespeare texts for the first time in decades.

Issue #5, Page 7* a fireside chat between Falstaff and Juliet

Why?  Because they realize how funny actually Falstaff is, how stubborn Juliet is, and how convincing and determined Iago and Lady Macbeth can be.  These are some of the greatest characters ever created, and we relish the opportunity to present them in a new, exciting and stimulating way.

Now I wonder if there will be a community theatre production of Kill Shakespeare one day…?

Anthony Del Col is a Co-Creator of the popular graphic novel Kill Shakespeare. Anthony has worked in the music, film and television industries, produced two independent feature films and most recently assisted with the management of international pop star Nelly Furtado and her world tour.

*artwork by Andy B., colour by Ian Herring.

Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery will be speaking about Kill Shakespeare at the Folger on February 15 at 7:30pm.
Issues #3-#8 are available for sale from the Folger Shop.


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