I am very diligent about getting kids on stage to perform Shakespeare, or any classic. Now mind you, I do mean in a FUN way (the whole reason I write melodramatic Shakespeare books). Following this mantra, I came across Lise Friedman, co-author of the movie Letters to Juliet. Well Lise is a performing arts guru and has authored a book called Break a Leg! The Kids’ Guide to Acting & Stagecraft.
After reading through this book (it is more like a kids acting bible than a book) several items popped out to me:
- Definitions, activities, and notes: on the sidebars of all the pages are various items to help the actor learn more about this wonderful craft.
- Well organized: the book is broken up into several chapters that make it very easy, and quick, to get a group started on an activity.
- TONS of activities: there are a plethora of different activities you can play with, no matter what your group size.
- Pictures: well, my English teachers can tell you this, I was a lot better with the books with pictures than the ones with just words (probably my ADHD conveniently kicking in). If they would teach the class with comics, I would have finally received an A! Seriously though (well, as serious as I can get) there are a lot of photos in Break a Leg! that really help visualize the topic that is being discussed. Not only are they of kids, but of professional actors showing that these activities really can get you to the bigs.
All in all, this book is one of the better kids acting books I have seen. I always have it out at the classes that I teach just for the kids to dig through and get ideas from. If you are teaching drama to elementary, middle, or home school kids, Break a Leg! is a must have to get the kids in the acting groove! There are sooooo many activities in there that you could literally make a lesson plan for everyday of the year, just from the quantity of topics listed. From warm-ups to dress up to building a character to slap stick to what’s a green room to improv to monologs to etc. etc. etc….. you get the picture.
So the next time you are starting your kids on a Shakespeare for Kids melodramatic performance by Playing With Plays be sure to have Break a Leg! handy as you break the ice!
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