Shakespeare First Folio gets children-friendly reworking - The Leamington Observer

Shakespeare First Folio gets children-friendly reworking

Leamington Editorial 7th Apr, 2024   0

MAKING Shakespeare more inviting to schoolchildren is the aim of a new version of the world-famous First Folio.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has published an abridged and illustrated version of Shakespeare’s complete works targeted at a younger audience – Shakespeare’s Plays: A First Folio for Children.

The landmark First Folio, one of the most famous and important books ever published, helped to ensure William Shakespeare’s legacy in world culture over 400 years ago.

And SBT, which holds three original copies of the 1623 First Folio as part of its world-class collection, hopes the new publication will help to ensure children’s first encounter with the bard is a positive and accessible experience.

The Children’s Folio, aimed at seven to 14 year-olds, features edited versions of all 36 plays in the First Folio.

They have all abridged by the book’s editor Dr Anjna Chouhan. She has distilled each play to its essential characters and plot, so children are introduced to the key moments in every play, within a compelling story and allowing them to be performed by as few as eight people in 20 minutes, keeping Shakespeare’s original language.

Dr Chouhan said: “Each play is packed full of Shakespeare’s language so that budding performers might feel the texture of the words, follow the rhythms, and be excited to quote Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Rosalind, Volumnia, Coriolanus, Lady Macbeth and even King John.

“I want young people to feel as though Shakespeare’s words are for them, and that they have a right to explore and enjoy all 36 plays, and more than 360 characters, without lots of interventions and people telling them that it’s too complicated.”

The Children’s Folio has been illustrated by Emily Sutton. She researched each play and was inspired by the SBT’s extensive collection, which includes weapons, domestic objects, textiles, and early printed books, to create a series of illustrations.

The first 10,000 copies of the Children’s Folio are being distributed to 6,000 primary schools and 3,000 libraries across the UK for free by the SBT, along with online teaching resources.

Andy Reeves leads the learning team at SBT, the organisers of the annual ‘Shakespeare Week’ celebration in schools across the UK.

He said: “The Children’s Folio will help continue to make Shakespeare’s work and language accessible and engaging, as the First Folio did over 400 years ago.

“We are focusing on distributing copies of the book in communities that may have traditionally felt that Shakespeare isn’t for them and with the help of new learning resources that complement the book, we hope to inspire the next generation.”

The Children’s Folio project was led by Professor Charlotte Scott, director of knowledge at the SBT, and has been published by SBT and its longstanding publishing partner Walker Books.

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