Follow-up on small people and Shakespeare.

This is a surprise follow-up to this post about taking my son to see his first Shakespeare, which was not a production designed for children but was an outdoors, picnic-style event.

My little boy has just finished kindy (the Australian school year runs February – December), and so brought home the huge pile of workbooks and art folders that comes with the end of school. I was leafing through his writing practice book in which every Monday they would do what they call a ‘recount’, which is describing something that happened on the weekend, and I came across this:

Child's exercise book page with early attempt at writing.

How As You Like It looks to a five year old

Allow me to interpret: “Last night I saw a play. Firstly I moved to the brick stairs. After that I moved to the forest of Arden. Finally I went home. I had a great time.”

I see the teacher didn’t even attempt to correct his version of the word ‘play’: backwards p, l-a-i. I can’t blame her for being defeated by “brick stairs” – Act I was performed on a concrete platform surrounded by brick stairs, which the actors ran up and down a lot. Then everybody moved to a more woody location for the rest of the show.

If you’re wondering why there is a cat in As You Like It, he was remembering this banner, which was prominently displayed:

Cartoon of colourful tree and black cat, text: As You Like It.

Shakespeare on the Green promotional image

What interests me is that he remembered the name of the place we were supposed to be. There was no attempt to describe anything about the plot, and I wonder whether that has something to do with the way the task was framed. They are told to write about what they did, so that’s exactly what he wrote: he moved from the brick stairs to the forest of Arden. But I’m delighted that he remembered the name of the play, that he thought of himself as being where the actors told us to imagine ourselves – the forest of Arden, and more than a little that he had a gnrate time.

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