Clare loves Shakespeare. Several years ago, I gave the girls Usborne's Illustrated Tales from Shakespeare and she was immediately hooked. I began taking Clare and sometimes her best friend to the Saturday morning children's programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, which I have written about here. Inspired by Ken Ludwig's How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, we would put together Poetry Teatimes and memorize passages of Shakespeare. Meg and Anne were less enthusiastic about these endeavors and, with the pandemic preventing us from going to the Folger, I soon realized I wasn't doing enough to feed Clare's interest.
At the beginning of June, I tried to think of a way that would inspire Clare to explore her love of Shakespeare over the summer while also entertaining Meg and Anne. I thought about a joke I made long ago about my girls. "Clare's favorite Shakespeare is Romeo and Juliet because of the romance. Meg's favorite play is Richard III because of the history. Anne's favorite is A Midsummer Night's Dream because there is a character named Bottom." I knew immediately if I bought a donkey's head and let Anne be Bottom, she would be on board with anything I planned.
I contacted the mom of Clare's best friend (the one who went to the Folger with us) and asked if they would be interested in a two family Midsummer party. Using Ken Ludwig's book for suggestions, I began assigning passages that the kids could read or memorize. I thought Clare and her friend could act out a scene at the beginning of Act II between Puck and a Fairy. I anticipated they would read the lengthy scene, but Clare decided to memorize her lines. To my great excitement, we sat with my college Shakespeare textbook and went line by line figuring out exactly what the fairy was saying. With an understanding of the language, Clare quickly memorized her lines. Here is the second lengthy passage she memorized.
Our dinner was simple and not particularly inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. I cooked hamburgers and sausages on the grill, which we ate with fruit and a couscous salad. Our dessert was a lemon cheesecake mousse, which was very much enjoyed.
After the party, Clare picked up my college Shakespeare text and said, "I want to keep working on understanding Shakespeare." At that point, I knew that the party was a success. Enjoy these pictures from our party. You won't see Meg in these pictures, but that is because she was acting as our photographer.