Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

"Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?"


Folger Theatre hosts student matinees for their innovative productions each season. School groups attend in droves to see fresh life breathed into Shakespeare’s texts, or a creative new concept or setting which sets the production apart from others.

HAMLET, Folger Theatre 2010. Photo by Carol Pratt.

Occasionally, however, an audience member at one of these performances will take offense to an interpretation, a character, or even a line of text from the play. The Theatre does its best to make recommendations on age-appropriateness, and we do our best in Education to present the Director’s vision with background information and discussion topics from the plays in each of our study guides for these audiences ahead of time for preparation. Yet there still may be a person who takes offense at something from the play.

How do you prepare your students for a performance of a Shakespeare play?

Do you research the Theatre’s performance history? Is Theatre etiquette discussed?

Do you read the play ahead of time or is the performance an introduction?

Are themes and social or moral issues from the play discussed ahead of time, or afterwards?

We’re very interested in learning how educators prepare for a performance with their class, so please let us know in the comments!

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