What’s So Special About Shakespeare? | BOOK| Kids' Poems and Stories With Michael Rosen



at this very moment someone somewhere in the world is reading Shakespeare and even though he died 400 years ago someone else is writing about him or acting in one of his plays there's no one reason why Shakespeare is so special there's a whole set of reasons here are just a few of them watching Shakespeare's plays is like being invited into a house full of amazing rooms go through a door at the top of the house and you'll meet a ghost walking the battlements of a castle at night you'll hear him telling a young man that he is the ghost of his father the old king what's more the ghost reveals that he was murdered by his own brother move along into another room and a group of men are whispering amongst themselves they're dressed in the clothes of ancient Rome and they're working out how they're going to murder the future king and out in the garden of the house a bunch of crazy people have come up with a great practical joke they've tricked a stuffy mean minded man into thinking that the sad beautiful lady of the house has fallen in love with him there are lots more amazing rooms and if you go into them you'll find trial scenes battles love potions cruel Kings civil wars assassinations riots witches fairies jesters even a statue that comes to life you'll also meet people with deep and powerful emotions wild jealousy crazed hunger for power terrible sadness great happiness sneering contempt in the stories and scenes of Shakespeare's plays we have a sense of the extraordinary and dangerous things that could and did happen during Shakespeare's lifetime this was a time of war both between families in a country and between countries a time of treachery plotting spying and murder Shakespeare would have known that if you backed the wrong man you could end up stabbed to death or executed and we learn all about the time period through Shakespeare's works in Hamlet the King hires spies and hitmen just as Queen Elizabeth and her advisors hired people to do the same sort of job and in Coriolanus people riot over high prices just as they did in London in Shakespeare's time Shakespeare is able to draw a sin and make us feel all sorts of different and powerful emotions here's an example in the play Romeo and Juliet one of the scenes shows us a father yelling at his daughter these are some of the things he calls her young baggage disobedient wretch you greens sickness carry a new tallow face wretched puling fool whining moment that means a puppet juliet who's only 13 faces up to her father and dares to tell him that she doesn't want to marry Paris the man her parents have chosen for her she doesn't tell her father that she's fallen in love with Romeo instead and by now in the play we know that it would be the most dangerous thing she could do because there's a terrible feud going on between Romeo's family and Juliet's family what's more all fighting has been banned by the city's ruler on pain of death many of us know what it's like to get into a row with our parents we can understand how frustrated Juliet must be feeling and Shakespeare makes everything even more tense by letting his audience know more of what's going on than the character who's speaking we see this when we know what Juliet has done even though her mother and father don't Shakespeare has had a massive impact on our language do you ever say that you feel tongue-tied or that something is as dull as ditchwater have you ever said that someone wouldn't budge an inch or perhaps you've heard someone say that he's seen better days perhaps you've heard people say he's his own flesh and blood it's set your teeth on edge the game's up it's without rhyme or reason it happened in one fell swoop it melted into thin air that's the long and short of it the truth will out if you've used or heard any of these expressions then that was Shakespeare talking some words we use every day first appeared in his writing and were perhaps invented by him hint leapfrog lonely excellent and gloomy are just some of them Shakespeare's writing has become part of our culture his words are so familiar that when people try to understand something or imagine something or describe it their minds turn to a scene or character from Shakespeare for over three hundred years after Shakespeare's death people didn't always perform the plays the way he had written them sometimes they rewrote the whole thing other times they can't and changed the original scripts perhaps the most famous and striking example of this is the film of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes using only Shakespeare's words but cut down by well over two thirds of the play it's set in modern America backed by rock music some people thought that it wrecked Shakespeare but others like me thought that it was one of the best ever ways to keep Shakespeare a live if any part of this video has grabbed your attention go and watch a film of a Shakespeare play or perhaps a theater near you is putting one on why don't go then you'll see the Shakespeare didn't really write books he wrote scripts watching a Shakespeare play can be so striking tried you

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