Catasauqua Press

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

'Shakespeare for Kids' hears a 'Shrew'

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by REBEKAH HAWK Special to The Press in Focus

The fifth anniversary of "Shakespeare for Kids" by Erin Sheffield at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival utilizes the story of "The Taming of the Shrew" as its basis.

The production, directed by Matt Pfeiffer, continues through Aug 3, Main Stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

In "The Taming Of the Shrew," it is explained to the audience, that Petruchio wants to marry Kate. She'll have nothing to do with him until, according to the performers, "Kate didn't really want to be a bully when Petruchio gave her a taste of her own medicine. She just wanted to be friendly. … But she thought her sister was prettier."

The production is definitely designed for children (ages 4 - 10). The show's goal is to introduce Shakespeare's rich language and characters in a fun, welcoming atmosphere.

There are many jokes that adults can chuckle at, as well. An example is when a "Team Shakespeare" members says, "Hey kids! It's time to learn about iambic pentameter. You see, it's when a mommy and daddy giraffe love each other very much."

By the way, iambic pentameter, typical of Shakespeare's poetry and plays, creates a rhythmic pattern of speaking by pairing 10 syllables for each line of dialogue into five pairs.

At the July 27 morning performance, the performers did an excellent job explaining to such a young audience what iambic pentameter really is.

The cast includes Henry A. McDaniel III, Brandon Meeks and Bonnie Jean Witkowski, who have a knack for interpreting the story in a way that even the youngest child can understand. Leo Bond is Showbot, the robot.

The show includes songs and puppets. There's lots audience interaction, which is fun for all to experience. Children are brought up on stage to participate.

One word game includes having a child in the audience pull a name out of a box so that whenever that word is mentioned during a scene, those in the audience are to wave their hands in the air and scream, "Aaah!"

And, at one point during the 50-minute show, the audience was on its feet singing "The Hokey Pokey" Shakespeare-style.

The audience is encouraged to stay for a question and answer session.