My 11-year-old daughters and I went with friends to see some Shakespeare on Saturday. I’m a big fan of Kiss Me Kate, and I watch it every time it’s on television, so I thought it might be fun to see the play on which it’s based.
We skipped our Girl Scout meeting and went to a 75-minute production of The Taming of the Shrew (50% of the original text of the play) at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. My friend introduced me to this family-oriented “Short Shakespeare” series a few years ago when we went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream together.
The beautiful theater is small and intimate, and I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house. I laughed a lot during the show, and the girls laughed, too. I know they didn’t get some of the jokes or even some of the plot intricacies, but because of this venue I know that won’t turn them off Shakespeare in the future.
After the play, the troupe answered questions from the audience with honesty and humor, questions like “How much money did you get paid?” and “Why is Kate always wearing short sleeves?” (That last question came from my daughters’ friend, and so we even learned about the role of costume designer in a production.)
People often ask about the relevancy of Shakespeare in today’s world, and one of the actors on Saturday spoke to that concern. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s English—poetic English. It’s kind of like listening to a new CD. You won’t get it all at once. And even though you might not understand every word, you will understand the feeling of all the words together.”
The way I feel about children and Shakespeare is the way I feel about children and math. I never want to hear my daughters say they hate math, and I never want to hear them say they hate Shakespeare.
And I'll try my best to see they don't.