Northern New York Teacher Publishes Shakespeare Adaptations.
-Tested in classrooms, these adaptations help both students and casual readers truly appreciate Shakespeare.
In Fall of 2004, Special Education teacher David Andalora was preparing to team-teach a class of special education students with a high school English teacher. Since the curriculum of the class was supposed to be aligned as closely as possible with what was being taught in the “regular” English classes, the two teachers decided they wanted to teach Shakespeare to the class. As the actual text of Shakespeare’s plays would be above the students’ instructional level, the teachers planned to use easier adaptations of the plays with these students. The English teacher bought three different popular adaptations/ easy versions of Julius Caesar, and told Andalora that he could select which one would be used with the class. And this is where the story began.
“All three adaptations were pure garbage, in my opinion.” Andalora said. “Two of them tried a strict line-by-line translation that resulted in an awkward sounding product. No one would get any pleasure from reading it. The vocabulary was still far too demanding for my students. The third adaptation changed the whole format of the play into a story, and thus the dramatic element of Shakespeare was lost entirely.” When he told his co-teacher his opinion of her selections, she asked him if he thought he could write a better one. “I told her I didn’t just think I could, I knew I could,” he said. Three months later, the two teachers taught the class using Andalora’s adaptation of Julius Caesar. Andalora’s account of what happened is nothing short of amazing. “Kids would groan in dismay at the end of the period—they wanted to keep going to see what happened next! And they were all willing to take parts and read because they found it was easy to read aloud! They laughed where Shakespeare wanted them to laugh, and felt suspense where Shakespeare wanted them to. We discovered that we could use this adaptation to teach everything we would have taught using the original text in a regular class! And the kids loved it!” Once Caesar was done, the class begged for more Shakespeare. Andalora was able to adapt Macbeth before the end of that school year, and achieved similar results.
This is my attempt to rid the world of ‘Bardophobia’ once and for all!
Another English teacher at the school noticed the success of these adaptations, and asked him to consider adapting Romeo and Juliet for the next school year. That year, 2005-2006, Andalora was paired with this teacher in the classroom, and his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet was used with regular education students. “They could understand it perfectly, and it was so easy for them to pick up on literary elements such as suspense, irony, characterization, and descriptive language. Every element of the original play has been maintained, including the poetic elements. If it rhymed in pentameter in the original, it rhymes in pentameter in the adaptation as well.” During the school year 2010-2011, he completed Hamlet, and in summer of 2011, he made all four adaptations available on amazon.com. “These adaptations are for everyone: students, English teachers, special education teachers, English as a Second Language teachers, home-school parents, and anyone who wants to understand and appreciate the genius of Shakespeare. This is my attempt to rid the world of ‘Bardophobia’ once and for all!”
Read and enjoy these adaptations, which teachers have dubbed “better than Barrons!”
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