The Toy's The Thing Wherein I'll Catch The Attention of My Kids

Last week on vacation I reported purchasing a “Shakespeare action figure”.  Without even opening it, this has fascinated my children.  “Mommy bought Daddy a toy?  Are you excited, Daddy?  When do you think Mommy will let you play with it?” and so on.  Suddenly it’s like I’m one of them.   The best part, though, came the day we got home.  While unpacking, Mr. Shakespeare was left sitting on the kitchen table, and was still there while we had lunch.  That’s when the real questions came.  “Yes, but Daddy, who was Shakespeare?” my 5yr old asked.  “What did he do?” “Well he wrote stories,” I said. “What kind of stories?  Were there any girls in the stories?”  My two oldest are girls, you see. “Oh sure, he wrote stories about girls all the time.  There’s that one about the girl named Miranda on the island that I’ve told you about, Shakespeare wrote that one.”  Speaking of The Tempest, by the way. “The girl on the island is a princess!” my 3yr old pipes up. “As a matter of fact she is a princess,” I confirm.  “But she doesn’t know it yet.  A long time ago she was forced to leave her kingdom with her father, who was a very powerful magician named Prospero, when the bad guys came and took over the kingdom.  Miranda and her father escaped on a boat and ended up on the island.” “A boat?  Are there pirates in this story?” “You know, there are pirates in this story, I’m glad you asked.  Two pirates named Stephano and Trinculo were washed up onto the island when their ship crashed.  There they met the seamonster named Caliban, and together they tried to take over the whole island!” …and so on.  This went on, off and on, all day.  Over dinner my 5yr old asks, “Was Caliban nice to Miranda and her Daddy?” and from down the hall in the bathroom I hear my 3yr old yell, “Are you talking about Shakespeare?” I turned to my wife and said, “You realize I’m in absolute bliss right now, right?” By the way, I’m not supposed to get the toy (which has disappeared from the kitchen table) until Christmas.  But after seeing results like that I might buy them their own!  There was another series of smaller, almost “Little People”-esque figures called “Lord Crumwell’s Oddfellows Genius Collection” that might be worth investing in, especially if I can come home one day and find my 3yr old playing with Shakespeare and Beethoven alongside her Barbies.

6 thoughts on “The Toy's The Thing Wherein I'll Catch The Attention of My Kids

  1. My kids got interested in Shakespeare when we were watching a parody of Othello at the Renaissance Festival, and I was laughing at different places from them. When they asked what was so funny, I said, “Oh, you wouldn’t know — it’s Shakespeare.”

    Then they wanted to see the plays and they’ve been hooked ever since. Each of them will get it on the first hearing of a play, and I have to watch most of them twice.

  2. Thanks David! I’m actually trying to motivate myself to write it down and expand it into something real. I’ll have to post about it here if I get something done on that front.

  3. Hi Ann,

    How old are your kids? Othello’s got some hefty sex and violence, doesn’t it? As it is I find the pickings slim on which stories my kids would have any chance of understanding. If they get bored with Tempest I’m either doing Midsummer or Twelfth Night next.

  4. I spent much of this summer teaching commedia dell’arte at a youth circus. The kids became sufficiently fascinated by the origins of these masks that I was able to inject theatre-history into the class at any time– and of course mention that Shakespeare borrowed extensively from commedia which immediately increased his stature with the 8-12 year old set.

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