Shakespeare wrote plays to be listened to and be watched live. He had his audience of up to 2,000 people between one and at most twenty metres away. I don’t think the plays can be truly understood or enjoyed being ‘watched digitally’.This is what Theresa May replied when I asked her why the Education Department didn’t help schools see live shows. Theatre is experiencing the story through listening to people talk. It is a social experience of the audience and cast, interacting through laughter, gasps or silence. In Tudor theatre the audience were talked directly to in the soliloquies. This is when a character shares directly with the audience their true and deepest thoughts. Quite often these are the lines that resonated through the the past 400 years to live in our culture. So many productions I have been involved with change when they interact with the audience. I think ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is close to a farce and so is even harder to appreciate in any other environment than a live performance.
And I am not agreeing with the government on this one but I know it is useful to familiarise your pupils with the plays before they see it live so here are a few suggestions.
Secondary School: Live at the Globe. The full production from this summer.
Infants and Juniors: CBBC version. Benefits from being live.
A basic introduction for all. Not my favourite in this series.
BBC Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.A Midsummer Night’s Dream