Macbeth, for a nine year old?

(36 Posts)
Sonatensatz Thu 10-Jan-13 11:46:51

Just had ds's topic letter home informing me that they are going to be studying Macbeth this term. Anyone else think this is a very unsuitable choice of subject matter for primary school? I remember reading it in secondary school and the themes in it are very unpleasant.

learnandsay Thu 10-Jan-13 11:49:04

Some companies tailor Shakespeare for young children. Can you find out which version of the play his class will be studying?

30ish Thu 10-Jan-13 11:50:52

They love it! It's gory and tragic and full of ideas for drama and improvisation! My class always love the witches. Also, there are many adaptations especially for young children - books and DVDs. We also use a fantastic company called shakespeare4kids. In my experience, they have so much fun learning a classic tale.

msteeth Thu 10-Jan-13 12:22:07

DD1 (Year 6) did Macbeth last term; they were shown excerpts of an RSC production onstage. She loved it - they timed it well (Hallowe'en...). Remember that witches and wicked queens are big with that age group (Narnia, Harry Potter, Worst Witch). So is guilt and responsibility (all that hand washing and sleepless nights!).

She didn't grasp the political story, but she liked the ghost, and she found out that Scotland had a history too. Some of the details and themes she recognised from Horrible Histories.

Sonatensatz Thu 10-Jan-13 12:49:40

Msteeth my Ds likes Narnia, Harry Potter etc but I haven't let him read or watch the 4th Harry Potter because of the child getting killed in that. He won't watch or read the witches as its too scary, he's only just let us have 101 dalmations on because Cruella is so scary (and he hid behind a blanket for some of her bits) and the Murders in Macbeth are really nasty.

mummytime Thu 10-Jan-13 13:18:07

My kids have all studied Macbeth in year 4 (and for my DS - every year afterwards until year 11).
It will be studied in an age appropriate way, and is far less realistic than modern books or drama. I think it is far less scary than "The Witches". I don't think the murders are that bad to be honest, pretty much pantomime and you don't see much: a bloody knife; a boy calling out that he is dead etc.
This play is often studied as part of "The Tudors" topic, which has quite a few other gruesome bits (eg. Mary I). So if you are worried you might want to have a little word with the teacher about the whole topic.

I was also the parent who complained about "The boy in the stripped Pajamas" being read in year 5.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 10-Jan-13 13:24:36

Often studied in yr 5/6 and it will probably be extracts focussing possibly on the witches and magic parts, though not necessarily. Ds did Macbeth in yr 5 and bits of The Tempest in yr 6.

It wouldn't worry me (except for putting some dcs off Shakespeare's language if they studied too much of the text too early) and I'm also someone who disapproves of Boy In the Striped Pyjamas for KS2 (too recent and too horrific) and of HP films being shown to a whole class beyond, say, film 2.

mimbleandlittlemy Thu 10-Jan-13 13:40:53

I took my ds to see an amazing production of it when he was 9 and he still talks about it - and not in a traumatised way at all. I think it's a really accessible play for kids and much better than wimbly wambly old R&J which is what my ds had to do in Y4.

mrz Thu 10-Jan-13 20:40:04

Goodness I studied Macbeth for kids with Y2 they loved it!

BooksandaCuppa Thu 10-Jan-13 22:19:59

Using the original text, mrz? I know they do in year 5/6.

mrz Thu 10-Jan-13 22:24:54
mrz Thu 10-Jan-13 22:25:06

Tempest

JellicleCat Thu 10-Jan-13 22:30:53

I did Macbeth at that age. Yes, I know different times and all that.

However dd acted in it at abot that age (can't remember exactly which year), with a drama group and loved it.

I don't see a problem for primary age to be honest. Planty of other things that are more gory or frighteneing.

Startail Thu 10-Jan-13 22:32:27

Long ago doing works experience in a school I saw a year 5 class performing Macbeth.

Great fun and totally appropriate version.

CaseyShraeger Thu 10-Jan-13 22:34:03

The bit with Lady Macduff and her children would I think be unsettling, but is likely to be cut out of anything they are watching at this age.

nkf Thu 10-Jan-13 22:36:11

It will be witches and writing spells and maybe and practising being the persuasive Lady Macbeth and maybe the dagger scene. And the great bit with the forest. Nothing to worry about.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 10-Jan-13 22:37:22

Ah, yes, thought it must have been those ones, mrz. Although, perhaps the witches' chant is close to the original in language.

Highlander Thu 10-Jan-13 22:43:35

mrz DS has loved that series of Shakespeare books since he was 6. V highly recommended, even as a bedtime story!

Maria33 Thu 10-Jan-13 22:51:10

I am an Englush teacher and Macbeth for y5 has always baffled me. My daughter did it in y5 and had nightmares for weeks. Also, what do nine year of care about the corrupting nature of power and suggestion? Why not do Midsummer Night's Dream or Much Ado? Mind you, every Shakespeare play is pretty inappropriate for kids in places. grin Hey ho - at least it's not King Lear hmm

DeWe Fri 11-Jan-13 08:20:38

We performed Macbeth in year 5 rewritten by our teacher who wrote three plus plays a year for year 5 and 6 to perform.

He didn't leave any of the gory stuff out, and I seem to remember most people relishing those bits. We did the Dream later that year too. (and Pygmalian)

simbo Fri 11-Jan-13 08:29:30

At my kids' school they did a whole ks2 performances of it, with each class doing a different bit, and a narrator tying it all together. It was great. As you can see from the responses most schools seem to dip a toe into Shakespeare nowadays. A great idea imo.

Sonatensatz Fri 11-Jan-13 17:50:30

Thanks for the link mrz.
I'll have a chat with the teacher and see how they are going to approach the play and what the focus is going to be.

losingtrust Sat 12-Jan-13 11:57:32

My dd did it in year 3 and loved it. They had a performance from a travelling theatre. They also were doing Harry Potter do a whole magic theme.

cakebar Sat 12-Jan-13 12:18:41

I really don't get why you need to do a 'version' of it for kids, there are plenty of other things to study without turning to adult stories. If you look at the original text you risk turning kids off as they are too young to access it, and if you look at a 'version' of it, well what's the point? I could maybe understand looking at The Tempest with older ks2 kids, the language and story are much more simplistic and the characters are quite fairy tale like.

We did Macbeth for GCSE and remember the themes being really adult and some of it was very nasty (not just cutting heads off, washing hands of endless blood etc but the intentions of one character to another) and stayed on the mind. We did one discussion about whether Lady Macbeth was turned on by events at one point (and I think the intention was that she was) and it was quite interesting at that age to learn that people got off on some weird stuff. I think if you strip the adult themes from it then you are taking away the essence of it and you might as well study Hansel and Gretel.

mrz Sat 12-Jan-13 14:40:31

Since when did Shakespeare become adult stories?
Our nursery children studied A Midsummer night's Dream and loved it. I did the Tempest with Y2 ...it has everything - shipwrecks, a wizard, spirits, a monster, and a beautiful girl and a handsome young man. Shakespeare's plays and poetry don't have an 18 rating.

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