Classics

 

Some things just never go out of fashion and that applies to drama as with anything else. Five hundred years on and Shakespeare’s plays are better known and more widely performed than ever. But when looking for classic children’s theater you have to come a bit more up to date – to the late 19th and 20th centuries which saw an incredible flourishing of childrens’ writing – both books and for the stage. From Huck Finn to Harry Potter the last 100 or so years have been great for kids stories and theater.

 

The scripts below include some of the greatest kids stories ever told, but if you think we’ve missed something important let us know.
 

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens adapted by Gary Owen


This is the first play adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel from an award-winning playwright who remains close to the original text but significantly updates the humor and fleshes out in spoken dialogue many of the important character passages from the book. This adaptation is not the stuffy stereotype of Victorian England but is unconventionally humorous, gritty and not at all tame in confronting poverty, greed and issues of unfairness in society: themes that will strikingly resonate with modern audiences.


This adaptation and the large size of the cast make it the perfect edition for the thousands of school performances which are held across the country each year during the holiday season. Unique to this adaptation, playwright Gary Own fills in the missing details in Scrooge’s background to explain his miserliness: how he was sent to a workhouse as a boy, starved, beaten and nearly worked to death. The Constable character from the workhouse then haunts Scrooge and appears every time he chooses money over humanity.


A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare adapted by  Carl Heap


This version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted and abridged by director Carl Heap, preserves the core of Shakespeare’s plot, retains the original language, yet is presented very much with the target age group in mind



And Carl Heap’s inspiring introduction will help readers, teachers, and practitioners to imagine, produce, and stage their own version


‘…in the night, imagining some fear, How easy is a bush supposed a bear!’


With all the dark undercurrents of the traditional fairytale, Shakespeare weaves in farce, slapstick, romance and revelry into some of his most lyrical poetry to create what is perhaps his most joyous play



A Midsummer Nights Dream for Kids

A Midsummer Nights Dream for Kids adapted by Lois Burdett


“Who is William Shakespeare?” For more than 20 years, Lois Burdett has asked that question of her elementary school students in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, leading them on a voyage of discovery that brings the Bard to life for boys and girls ages seven and up.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids, written in rhyming couplets is suitable for staging as class plays as well as reading aloud.


 


 


Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree

Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree by Michael Gravois


Aesop’s fables are given a festive spin …


There’s a mash-up of The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Tortoise and the Hare, where the six birds of Christmas compete in a comical race — with the turtle dove winning, of course. And a tiny snow mouse teaches the abominable snowman that little friends may prove great friends. Ebenezer Scrooge realizes that wealth unused might as well not exist. Santa’s elves dream of a life outside the workshop as they sing a “patter poem” about their ideal careers. And even though the eight reindeer panic when Rudolph gets a cold in the nose, they learn that necessity is the mother of invention


These dozen vignettes illuminate important life lessons by re-inventing the classic fables, blending humor, rhythmic elements, rapping, puppetry, poetry, song and storytelling to create a fast-paced, fun-filled show that’s filled with Christmas spirit.


8 to 50 gender-neutral roles


Single set – runs about 60 mins


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: A Musical

Adapted by Judith Viorst from her book of the same name


He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong, right down to lima beans for supper and kissing on TV. What do you do on a day like that? Well, you may think about going to Australia. You may also be glad to find that some days are like that for other people too.


In this delightful adaptation of her popular children’s book, with musical score was composed by Shelly Markham, Judith Viorst sets Alexander’s rather trying life to music and brings to the stage one of America’s feistiest characters.


Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland adapted by William Glennon  from the book by Lewis Carroll


This new version for stage is so close to the original in intention and feeling that you might suspect that Carroll himself had written it! And yet, it includes many unusual and imaginative staging devices.


A group of performers seeks out Alice in order to provide “her turn” in Wonderland. And, as her adventure unfolds, they play the many characters she encounters and grows to love.


Area staging – cast of 8 to 13 characters


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Simon Reade from Lewis Caroll


When Alice falls down a mysterious rabbit hole she stumbles upon a magical fantasy world where anything can happen …


Take tea with the Mad Hatter, meet the White Rabbit, grin with the Cheshire Cat, and play croquet with the Queen of Hearts


But whatever you do …


… don’t lose your head!


Lewis Carroll’s classic characters spring to life in an enchanting show for the whole family, bursting with music, madness and mystery


Simon Reade’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s much-loved fantasy classic is a witty and brilliantly inventive re-working


6 Male, 2 Female


Charlotte's Web (play)

Charlotte’s Web (play) adapted by Joseph Robinette from E.B. White’s classic novel.

This is the Play version of E.B. White’s beloved classic


The Children’s Literature Association named this “the best American children’s book of the past two hundred years,” and Joseph Robinette, working with the advice of E.B. White, has created a play that captures this work in a thrilling and utterly practical theatrical presentation


The costumes and unit set may be quite simple – it’s the story and relationships that make the show – or they may be as colorful and elaborate as you wish.


All the enchanting characters are here – Wilbur, the irresistible young pig who desperately wants to avoid the butcher; Fern, a girl who understands what animals say to each other; Templeton, the gluttonous rat who can occasionally be talked into a good deed; the Zuckerman family; the Arables; and, most of all, the extraordinary spider, Charlotte, who proves to be “a true friend and a good writer”


Determined to save Wilbur, Charlotte begins her campaign with the “miracle” of her web in which she writes, “Some pig.” It’s the beginning of a victorious campaign which ultimately ends with the now-safe Wilbur doing what is most important to Charlotte. This is a beautiful, knowing play about friendship that will give your actors a great opportunity and your audience an evening of enchantment. Unit set.


Charlotte’s Web - Musical Version

Charlotte’s Web – Musical Version by Joseph Robinette & Charles Strouse based on the classic novel by E.B. White.


This exciting, new musical version of Charlotte’s Web brings a new dimension to E.B. White’s beloved classic


With Music & Lyrics by Charles Strouse ( Annie & ‘Bye, ‘Bye Birdie) and Book by award-winning playwright Joseph Robinette your audiences will thrill to such numbers as Eating, Wilbur the Pig’s humorous yet poignant song about growing up; Who Says We Can’t Be Friends, an enchanting duet between Wilbur and his new-found companion Charlotte; Welcome to the Zuckerman Barn, featuring all the story’s unforgettable animals in a hand-clapping, toe-tapping hoe-down; and Summer, a haunting, nostalgic chorus number which evokes a time and place from everyone’s childhood


Hamlet For Kids

Hamlet For Kids adapted by Lois Burdett


Perhaps the best-known of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Hamlet has all the ingredients for a gripping story: revenge and power, familial love and betrayal, dramatic sword fights, dark spooky scenes. Once again Lois Burdett has woven her own brand of magic by transforming Shakespeare’s complex verse into rhyming couplets. She has created a version of Hamlet especially for children, even as young as seven, and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.


At the appropriately named Hamlet Elementary School in Stratford, Ontario, where Burdett has taught for over 20 years, her students have created wonderful drawings of Hamlet to illustrate Burdett’s fluid rhymes. The students’ interpretations are vivid evidence of Burdett’s clever ability to bring Shakespeare’s complex characters and intricate plots to life for young people.


How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig and William Shakespeare


A foolproof, enormously fun method of teaching your children the classic works of William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare’s plays are among the great bedrocks of Western civilization and contain the finest writing of the past 450 years. Many of the best novels, plays, poetry, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616—from Jane Austen to The Godfather—are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes. In a sense, his works are a kind of Bible for the modern world, bringing us together intellectually and spiritually. Hamlet, Juliet, Macbeth, Ophelia, and a vast array of other singular Shakespearean characters have become the archetypes of our consciousness. To know some Shakespeare provides a head start in life. In How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig provides the tools you need to instill an understanding, and a love, of Shakespeare’s works in your children, and to have fun together along the way.


Ken Ludwig devised his methods while teaching his own children, and his approach is friendly and easy to master. Beginning with memorizing short specific passages from Shakespeare’s plays, this method then instills children with cultural references they will utilize for years to come. Ludwig’s approach includes understanding of the time period and implications of Shakespeare’s diction as well as the invaluable lessons behind his words and stories. Colorfully incorporating the history of Shakespearean theater and society, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare guides readers on an informed and adventurous journey through the world in which the Bard wrote.


This book’s simple process allows anyone to impart to children the wisdom of plays like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. And there’s fun to be had along the way. Shakespeare novices and experts, and readers of all ages, will each find something delightfully irresistible in How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.


Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk adapted by Georgs Pelecis, Ana Sanderson and Matthew White from Roald Dahl’s version of the classic story


Roald Dahl’s irreverant Revolting Rhymes have an enduring appeal, and now for the first time, children can enjoy the fun of performing two of them as musicals. In Jack and the beanstalk, Jack and the friendly farm animals defy the Giant’s phenomenal sniffing powers and Jack’s mother’s murderous way with a vacuum cleaner to come out triumphantly rich – and squeaky clean. The Dahl script, the instantly enjoyable new songs, and clever staging ideas are all wrapped up in one accessible and affordable pack – complete with a performance/backing tracks CD and excerpts from the orchestral adaptation by Georg Pelecis.


More Roald Dahl scripts


Macbeth

Macbeth by William Shakespeare adapted by Carl Heap


This version of Macbeth, adapted and abridged by director Carl Heap, preserves the core of Shakespeare’s plot, retains the original language, yet is presented very much with the target age group in mind


And Carl Heap’s inspiring introduction will help readers, teachers, and practitioners to imagine, produce, and stage their own version.


MacBeth For Kids

MacBeth for Kids – adapted by Lois Burdett


“Who is William Shakespeare?” For more than 20 years, Lois Burdett has asked that question of her elementary school students in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, leading them on a voyage of discovery that brings the Bard to life for boys and girls ages seven and up.


Macbeth for Kids, written in rhyming couplets is suitable for staging as class plays as well as reading aloud.


From the author: “Most students will be exposed to the works of Shakespeare, typically in high school. The language and content of the plays is seen as too difficult for younger children but primary children are underestimated as to what they can accomplish given the challenge. The study of Shakespeare has become an integral part of my grade two program at Hamlet School, in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.


When I first moved to Stratford, I had no intention of teaching Shakespeare to 7 and 8 year olds. Stratford is a beautiful city noted for its Shakespearean theatre and I was interested that the schools were all named after Shakespearean characters. I asked my class, “Who is William Shakespeare?” and “Why is our school called Hamlet?” Their answers were surprising. One thought he was a famous boxer. Another believed he was the President of Canada. A third student responded, “I don’t know who William Shakespeare is. I don’t know any of the big kids.” It was the children’s enthusiasm and excitement on making the connection between an historical figure and the name of their school, which led me to continue. Thirty years later I can’t imagine teaching anywhere in the world and not introducing Shakespeare. The study provided tremendous growth, particularly in the area of language and communication and evolved into a learning experience of a lifetime. I have endeavored in my books and workshops for teachers to share the excitement of exploring with children, the timeless emotions and ideas of Shakespeare.”


Much Ado About Nothing for Kids

Much Ado About Nothing for Kids adapted by Lois Burdett


“What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?” These famous lines from Shakespeare’s comedyMuch Ado About Nothing delightfully show the verbal sparring between the reluctant lovers, Beatrice and Benedick who are happily brought together at the end by the schemes of their friends. And, no story is complete without at least one evil character, Don John, who unsuccessfully tries to tear apart the wedding plans of Hero and Claudio, the other lovers in this sparkling tale.


Written in rhyming couplets, Much Ado About Nothing, the eighth book in this successful series, captures all the exciting elements of the original story, and is truly a delightful read for both adult and child.


Lois Burdett has been a teacher at Hamlet Public School in Stratford, Ontario, for over twenty years and her expertise in bringing Shakespeare to life for children as young as seven is reflected in the children’s clever insights and wonderful drawings which complement the play.


Her success has resulted in an ever-increasing demand for workshops as far afield as Europe and Australia where she instructs educators on how they too can familiarize young children with Shakespeare.


From the Foreword by Denzel Washington


“[Lois Burdett’s] delightfully entertaining text is complemented by her students’ thoughtful interpretations and charming artwork which make Much Ado About Nothing come alive in a whole new way.”


Robin Hood and the Raven’s Revenge by John Chambers

Robin Hood and the Raven’s Revenge by John Chambers


Comedy/ 9 characters, 5 Men, 4 Women (double/extra casting if desired)/ Full Length, Two Acts


Synopsis: Written for a family audience, with plenty of humour and some added twists to the traditional story. It intertwines the favourite elements of the Robin Hood legend with less known myths, such as the witch Mother Maudlin and an evil Raven and equates Robin with the English folk-lore figure, The Green Man.


John has written three epics for Lancaster Dukes Promenade Seasons – Tales of King Arthur, Jungle Book and The Three Musketeers, and several pieces for/with young people at Manchester Youth Theatre and M6 where he was also Resident Writer.


 


Romeo and Juliet Class Pack: Oxford School Shakespeare [Paperback]

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – Classroom teaching pack


BL Full accessible notes ideal for students

BL Additional information and reading lists

BL A range of llustrations, both decorative and explanatory

BL A school edition that is both accessible and academically rigorous

BL OSS range also includes Romeo and Juliet Reading Guide and OxBox to support study of the text


BL Provide essential background material for students

BL A reusable booklet with magazine-style feel to engage students

BL A useful ‘way in’ to various aspects of the play

BL A flexible resource that can be used throughout the study of the play


Romeo and Juliet for Kids

Romeo and Juliet for Kids adapted by Lois Burdett


“Who is William Shakespeare?” For more than 20 years, Lois Burdett has asked that question of her elementary school students in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, leading them on a voyage of discovery that brings the Bard to life for boys and girls ages seven and up.


Romeo and Juliet for Kids, written in rhyming couplets is suitable for staging as class plays as well as reading aloud.


Shakespeare with Children: Six Scripts For Young Players

Shakespeare with Children: Six Scripts For Young Players by Elizabeth Weinstein


Does your class or children’s group need a jump start in producing thrilling, engrossing, lively theater?


Joy, greed, love, fear, and gluttony are just a few of the elements woven into Shakespeare’s plays; these timeless topics provide endless fascination for children of any age.


In Shakespeare with Children: Six Scripts for Young Players, Elizabeth Weinstein retains the beauty of Shakespeare s original language and the sheer fun of acting onstage, while substantially shortening and adapting six plays for children ages eight to thirteen.


These forty-minute scripts come with an arsenal of practical suggestions for simple productions. Teachers (and parents) will find ideas for easy back-of-the-closet costume pieces, as well as for sets, props, and music. Historical and literary background is also provided.


Contents:

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Why Perform Classroom Plays?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Macbeth

King Henry IV, Part I

Twelfth Night

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

Appendix A. About Shakespeare

Appendix B. Bibliography

Appendix C. Sample Letter Home


Weinstein has created an amazing resource for teachers who want to introduce their own students to the richness and wonder of the Bard. Her beautifully adapted texts are especially well served by the wonderfully useful suggestions for staging and music. Hurray for Shakespeare with Children! –Bruce Coville, Author of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (and other Shakespeare picture books), My Teacher Is an Alien, Song of the Wanderer, and many other books for children.


As a fifth-grade teacher, I am thrilled that I can use this wonderful resource to introduce my students to the beautiful language, marvelous characters, intriguing plots, and fascinating history in Shakespeare’s plays. The adaptations in this well-chosen collection lend themselves beautifully to cross-curricular connections among social studies, reading, language arts, music, and art. It is hard to imagine a better way to hook young students on Shakespeare than by having them read and act in these delightful versions of the Bard’s work. –Elizabeth Ester, North Shore Country Day School, Winnetka, Illinois


Ms. Weinstein’s book is a must for every creative elementary classroom. She gives you all the tools you need to build a beautiful production of six different Shakespearean classics including comedy (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, The Tempest), tragedy (Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet), and history (King Henry IV, Part I). The book provides a detailed blueprint that includes a synopsis and ideas for music, props, backdrops, and costumes, as well as a hard-to-find pronunciation key for each character. A great gift for teachers that will benefit their students forever. –Ronald Bell, Artistic Director, Syracuse


The City Mouse and the Country Mouse

The City Mouse and the Country Mouse from K I D S I N C O based on the classic tale by Aesop

The classic tale of two cousins, who live very different lives. They both explore life in the country and the city and each learns that things are not always as they first seem.

Cast of 3 required


The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book by Stuart Paterson, adapted from the book by Rudyard Kipling


Darker than the Disney classic, this is a Jungle Book red in tooth and claw. Packed with great songs and a snappy script, this show knows exactly what the kids want. The story begins with a little boy lost in the jungle. The evil Shere Khan, the tiger, stalks him but before he can kill him, Akela the wolf, and king of the jungle, protects the young boy and takes him in as his own. We follow Mowgli, the boy, as he grows in the wild, learning from his wise teachers, Balu and Bagheera, playing with the monkeys and trying to hide from Shere Khan. As Mowgli grows, he begins to wonder of his life with the men and following a large argument returns to his village where he is faced with yet more alienation and struggle. This is a heart-warming story,that shows the importance of friendship and trust within diversity.


 


The Railway Children

The Railway Children by Mike Kenny, adapted from the book by E. Nesbit


You don’t need a real train to stage this version of the much loved classic – though that’s what they had at Waterloo Station for a smash-hit production. The most powerful prop is the imagination of the audience, the most effective tool, the skill of the actors. This version of The Railway Children is eminently suitable for schools, youth theatres and drama groups – anywhere, in fact, where the cry of ‘Daddy! My Daddy!’ is likely to provoke a tear.


The Tempest for Kids

The Tempest for Kids adapted by Lois Burdett


The Tempest is an exciting tale of jealousy and betrayal, magic and romance, repentance and forgiveness, and has all the elements necessary to ignite a young child’s imagination and creative energy. By her use of rhyming couplets, Lois Burdett has once again succeeded in transforming Shakespeare’s complex verse into a format readily understood by children.


Children’s enthusiasm toward Burdett’s adapted Shakespeare is evident in the wonderful drawings and anecdotes created by her Grade 2 and 3 students at Hamlet Elementary School in Stratford, Ontario. Together with the five other books in the successful and beautifully produced Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series, The Tempest will delight teachers, parents and children.


The Wind in the Willows - junior play script

The Wind in the Willows (junior play script) is a musical version of Kenneth Grahame’s classic riverside story of Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad.


Keeping faith with the original story, the musical contains 10 catchy and lyrical tunes of differing styles. The story is set in a narrative style with cameo scenes acted out. There are 14 main characters, plus many smaller parts and a chorus.


Runs about an hour and is suitable for Junior Schools (8-12)


Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom’s Midnight Garden: Play (Acting Edition)


This play is an adaptation of Philippa Pearce’s 1950s classic novel of a boy’s nightly voyage to a Victorian past. Quarantined in his Aunt’s and Uncle’s stuffy flat because his brother has measles, Tom is restless and bored.Tom's Midnight Garden - novel by Philippa Pearce


Intrigued by a Grandfather clock, religiously wound by the elderly owner of the house, Mrs. Bartholomew, Tom is startled one night to hear the clock strike thirteen! Slipping out of bed he goes to what in his time is a concrete backyard, only to discover a beautiful Victorian garden of the 1880s.


He meets the unhappy orphan, Hatty, who initially is the only person who can see him, and he visits her each night at the same hour, writing enthusiastically to his brother, Peter, about his adventures. But although Tom stays the same exuberant 10-year-old, Hatty grows into a young woman during these visits. Before the story can reach its outcome, Tom has to return to his parents, but the truth is revealed in a touching denouement.


The play was first presented by Unicorn Theatre at the Pleasance Theatre, London in 2000. The following year, the production toured the UK and played at the New Victory Theatre, New York, USA.


The Unicorn production won The Equity Award for Best Show for Children and Young People in the 2001 Theatre Management Association Awards.


Read a review of the 2010 touring production here.


Twelfth Night for Kids

Twelfth Night for Kids adapted by Lois Burdett


“Who is William Shakespeare?” For more than 20 years, Lois Burdett has asked that question of her elementary school students in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, leading them on a voyage of discovery that brings the Bard to life for boys and girls ages seven and up.


Twelfth Night for Kids, written in rhyming couplets is suitable for staging as class plays as well as reading aloud.


War Horse

War Horse  adapted by Nick Stafford from the book by Michael Morpurgo


Winner Tony Award 2011 – Best Play


War Horse - novel by Michael MorpurgoAt the outbreak of the First World War, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Caught up in enemy fire, fate takes Joey on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find and bring him home.


Nick Stafford’s stage adaptation of the celebrated novel by the Children’s Laureate (2003-5) Michael Morpurgo leads us on a gripping journey through history.


The Oxford Playscripts series offers exciting and skilful adaptations of a range of modern novels and includes:



  •  New, innovative activities specifically tailored for Key Stage 3 – 11-14 year old students

  • Activities include work on Speaking and Listening, close text analysis and the structure of playscripts, and act as a springboard for personal writing

  • Insights into the plays themselves by their popular authors and adapters

  • Advice on staging



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