Drama - A wave of enthusiasm

1st June 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

We have always valued drama at Norland Nursery (in Bath), but it was a recent staff development day at the Globe theatre in London that made us brave enough to tackle Shakespeare, involving even our youngest children, writes Claire Crowther.

We chose The Tempest. Parents initially responded with a mixture of disbelief and amazement, but the staff's energy and sense of purpose were contagious. Our first step was to get staff and children feeling confident with the play. We then bought a range of children's books, including Bringing Shakespeare to Today's Children by Andrew Matthews.

Children created their own illustrations, which doubled as a storyboard recreating the plot. We laid out their pictures across the stage and talked through the order, along the lines of: "This is my wizard; then comes Indy's picture of the storm and then Delphi's boat."

Breaking the story down like this allowed children's individual interpretations to surface and related the story to their own experiences. Next came costume designing and prop building. The nursery's hollow play blocks became the ship we sailed in. Sheets of materials and fairy wings gave us a wizard, butterfly and hummingbird.

The children "travelled on a ship through a storm", became "shipwrecked on a desert island", followed a musician, were "captured by a witch" and searched for those they had lost. Was this a correct interpretation of The Tempest? We think so.

What else?

A strategy booklet shared by TES English will help you make the best of the Bard. Or prepare your own staging of Shakespeare with taw2704's drama warm-ups.

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