Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Much Ado About Nothing : Sixty Minute Shakespeare

I received a copy of “Much Ado About Nothing” from the Sixty Minute Shakespeare Series to review.  “Much Ado About Nothing” is one of my favorite works from the Bard, so I was excited to read through this abridged version and see how it would flow and if anything was missing.

About the Series from Get Shakespeare
Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Series
A Series by Cass Foster

This highly acclaimed series makes Shakespeare very accessible and is found in all 50 U.S. states, all Canadian provinces, and 45 countries. 

The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare series is an ideal alternative for those who lack the time to tackle the unabridged versions of the world's most widely read playwright. Professor Cass Foster has judiciously condensed (without modernizing) the Bard's richly poetic language. He has skillfully retained the integrity of the text, allowing students to experience the thrill of the stories as well as the captivating imagery in the prose and verse. 

In addition, the author has provided helpful footnotes on nearly every page explaining the more arcane words and phrases to help the reader better understand and appreciate each play. 

You will find the practical suggestions clearly laid out for staging, pacing, and thematic exploration very useful. Scenes flow smoothly from one to the next, maintaining a continuity difficult to find in other condensed versions of the Bard's works. Each script is approximately 70 pages. 

My thoughts on the book:
I am working on adding more Ambleside books and units to our curriculum and was happy to see “Much Ado About Nothing” on the schedule for the coming year. Reading through this book excited me as a former theater student and literature major, the overall story is intact and very well abridged. I really didn’t feel like I was missing anything at all. I love Shakespeare’s voice and am always looking for ways to incorporate the Bard into our homeschool plans. With the book I can easily incorporate the play into a unit on theater, Shakespeare, poetry, history, and many more.  I am already writing a unit study based on “Much Ado About Nothing” using Sixty Minute Shakespeare as the main text.  By using various resources and letting the kids see the script in this simple format, Shakespeare becomes something that even my young boys can take hold of the play. We are creating our own stages out of pizza style boxes so that they can do the abridged version of the play based on this book. It is so important to continue the tradition of theater and Shakespeare and this series is allowing me to do that with my boys. 

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