St. Paul's and Getting Your Kids to Love Shakespeare
Activity: St. Paul's/The Globe. Tube Stop: St. Paul's Cost: Free (except theater tickets!) Hours: Shows usually start at 2 or 7:30.
Take the tube to St. Paul's Cathedral. This building is beyond huge! Make sure to circle all the way around it and see if you can find some pigeons to feed on the steps of Saint Paul. This is a good time to treat your children to a loud solo of "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins. Once everyone is sufficiently embarrassed, head across The Millennium Bridge (Death Eaters destroyed this bridge in HP 7) to the round brown and white theater house. You will pass The Tate Modern on your way there (big modern art museum, free and worth a look if you have time).
Seeing a play at The Globe is a life-highlight experience. Look ahead to see what's on. I like to book "groundling" tickets. What this means is that you are standing right next to the stage! If you have good shoes, this is an amazing experience. The actors talk RIGHT to you and you are close enough to touch their feet. If you don't feel like standing, book a sitting ticket in one of the pews. Bring a blanket because the theater has no roof!
The best way to introduce your kids to Shakespeare is to see a play with them. Look up what's playing and brief them on the plot beforehand. Don't intervene too much, just let them enjoy the show. The actors and actresses that perform at the Globe are SO talented, they can bring Shakespeare alive for even the youngest patron. Sometimes I think children are actually better at seeing Shakespeare than adults. They're used to not understanding absolutely everything and just enjoying what they are able to follow.
It's hard to sum up Shakespeare's genius, but once you start to study his works, you see him everywhere. He did so much for the English language. There probably isn't a day that goes by that you don't hear some turn of phrase that he coined.
Talk to your kids about how even though his plays are old, many of the problems in the plays are similar to those we face today. In fact, his plots and characters are so good, that Hollywood still uses them! Pay attention to the names he uses. Lorenzo's name comes from The Merchant of Venice! Each name is carefully chosen for the character and will tell you something about them. Ok enough of me nerding out about Shakespeare, here are some good family movies with Shakespeare plots to get your kids geared up for whatever you happen to be seeing:
Romeo and Juliet: West Side Story, Romeo + Juliet (with Leonardo), Gnomeo and Juliet, Shakespeare in Love (not for kids), Warm Bodies
The Taming of the Shrew: 10 Things I Hate About You, Kiss Me Kate
Twelfth Night: She's the Man
Hamlet: Lion King
Julius Caesar: Mean Girls (loose, but it works)
My favorite plays for kids: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth (can be gruesome, but it keeps their interest!).