Stratford's charity creates children's edition of Shakespeare's First Folio to mark 400th anniversary
THOUSANDS of copies of a special First Folio for children are to be donated to schools and libraries across the UK by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT).
The new abridged edition of Shakespeare’s plays is being produced during the 400th anniversary of the original First Folio, which saved some of the Bard’s most famous works from being lost forever.
An initial 10,000 copies of Shakespeare's Plays: A First Folio for Children are being produced in partnership with Walker Books, targeted at children aged seven to 14. The book includes all 36 plays that were published in the First Folio, in the same order.
Andy Reeves, head of learning development at SBT, said: “With 2023 being the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio, a book that first brought Shakespeare’s plays together in one volume and set the highest bar for creativity, performance, and collaboration, we could think of no better way of celebrating than to re-introduce the works and words of Shakespeare to young people, empowering them to read or perform them as they choose.”
The children’s version, SBT said, uses Shakespeare’s language and has been abridged to allow each play to be easily performed by a minimum of eight people in under 20 minutes.
Senior lecturer in Shakespeare studies at the SBT, Dr Anjna Chouhan, who edited all of the plays for the project, said: “This book isn’t about re-writing or reducing the power of Shakespeare’s words and works. Instead, we want the original language, themes and stories to be celebrated.”
She added: “Where else but in Shakespeare can you enjoy such weird and wonderful words like ‘sluggardise’, and ‘rampallion’ one moment, lead armies into battle with Henry V the next, turn a page to confront mortality with Hamlet, and conclude by enjoying a good practical joke with Sir Toby Belch?”
The book has been illustrated by Emily Sutton, whose previous titles with Walker include A First Book of the Sea and The Christmas Eve Tree.
The project is part of SBT’s celebration of the anniversary of the 1623 First Folio – this includes an exhibition, featuring one of the three books the trust owns, at New Place, Stratford.