March 17th – 23rd is the first ever Shakespeare Week!
The aim is to celebrate his life and bring his life to work for school children across the country. It got me thinking about how I learnt about him at school.
I remember studying lots of different plays and I enjoyed them all, but it was when I saw one being performed that I got really enthusiastic about his work. I started to understand that Shakespeare’s work could be interpreted differently. People could see different things in his iambic pentameter.
For my A-Level in English Literature we studied Othello and it was then that I started to feel passionately about a character – one that is much maligned. I loved Iago! For me, he was misunderstood. He wasn’t really evil. He was distraught at the thought of losing Othello. I wanted to save him.
I’ve seen many interpretations of Iago’s character over the years and have enjoyed seeing how different actors portray him. I’ve disliked many but there was one who seemed to to see what I saw in him. Kenneth Branagh is my favourite Iago – and I love watching him in the role. In actual fact, Laurence Fishburne is my favourite Othello too – so they made a perfect match for me!
I want my son to have this depth of feeling about Shakespeare’s work and hopefully by the time he starts school, Shakespeare Week will still be happening.
You can join in with Shakespeare Week now though:
The Shakespeare Festival site has got some lovely online events happening including a challenge by Philip Pullman.
You might also like to visit the breathtaking White Cliffs of Dover and consider King Lear’s description…
“There is a cliff, whose high and bending head looks fearfully on the confined deep”
You could head over to Dover Castle and act out some scenes from Henry Viii.
Or you could visit Smallhythe Place and see the beetle wing dress worn by Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth in 1888.
To kick off the week in our house, we’ve been using stickers!
Usborne have got some lovely books to tie in with Shakespeare Week. The lovely people there sent me the Sticker Dressing Shakespeare book to have a look at. We had fun in the garden talking about the different characters and dressing them! My toddler loved dressing Titania and Bottom – he found the donkey head hilarious…
It is a lovely way to introduce the different plays to children (even toddlers!) and is part of a great range of sticker books. I found my favourite play and my son was asking about what they were wearing and what was in the background. We had some lovely discussions. With an older child it would be a great introduction to Shakespeare’s work.
We’ve already looked through the range and picked the ‘Explorers’ one to get next!
We’d love to know about your favourite plays or characters and if you get up to anything next week do tweet us @MumsnetKent