Shakespeare Summer Club: Projects Week Four


Things went a bit manic this week, and yet it was probably the most exciting week we’ve had.  All the children’s hard work was about to come to fruition; everything was slowly falling in to place; acceptance notices were coming back from guests and the dining area was slowly being turned into an enchanted wood.  But it wasn’t without its mishaps.  By Wednesday I had a mini melt down due to lack of sleep (I had been getting to bed between 130am and 330 am each morning and was exhausted).  I announced to everyone they needed to leave and we (me, mainly) needed a break.  Fast forward two hours to about seven and my mini breakdown turned into a large one on account of a lost cotton reel (it’s the small things, folks).  Gary, perfectly used to my pre-presentation nerves and subsequent hysterics, calmly and methodically searched the box I had last seen it in and found it in record time.  It was around this time I realised sleep might be a plan, so quickly finished what I needed to do and went to bed before ten.  Next day, I was right as rain.  All the nerves had left and I was in a great position to encourage everyone else, and work hard at all the inevitable last minute jobs which crop up before a performance such as this.  I will post about the show in my next post, but suffice it to say, it was better than I could have imagined, even in my post sleep euphoria!

What we did in week four:

Finished the puppet theater and puppets

  • Puppet Theater

I used a box which was fairly large, strong and flat.  I think it held a tv.  Or a bike.  I cut out two rectangle holes of equal size.  I then wrapped gaffa tape around the resultant frame:

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I ripped, and did not hem, curtain material and stuck it to the frame using double sided sticky tape reinforced by pins, and covered the floor of the theater using any green felt I had left over from making the puppets:

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This made an adequate puppet theater, large enough and sturdy enough for the job.  Given the time restraints I was very happy with the result, and once again threw up a prayer of thanks to God for not making me a perfectionist!

  • Puppets

L12 had done a lot of the preparation for the puppets which made our final job so much easier.  Here are her prototypes:

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We were making the puppet costumes from felt and their bodies would be wooden spoons and lolly sticks for arms.  L made most of the made dress type costumes, whilst I finished them off with detail and accessories.  The first set of photos show ‘Wall’ with his hole which Thisby and Pyramus kiss through and ‘Lion’, who Pyramus believes has killed his love, Thisby:

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The second set of photo’s show ‘Moonshine’ with his dog, bush and lantern:

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Enchanted Forest Scenery

Whilst it would have been easy to go all out with changing scenery, we decided to do that which the Globe Theater seems to do – have main scenery and adapt according to the scene.  We figured the majority of the play, in particular act three, was set in an enchanted wood, so we went with that.

The first thing was to make it dark, then hang lots of fairy lights to make the whole room twinkle.  We draped them around the beams and over the curtains.  We had three more sets of lights, one butterfly lights and the other two flower lights which we used later on.

The scenery had a couple of purposes.  The first was obviously to show the place in which the characters were (enchanted forest), but we also needed a place for the actors who were not required to be off stage (or at least unseen) as there was no such thing as changing rooms or back stage in our mini theater.  This second requirement made me think of scenery at varying depths, giving the actors various places in the room to disappear from the stage.

In the end I made two trees and one bush.  They were all cut from cardboard kept from our worktops in our kitchen.  The bush I smudge painted using a selection of techniques from pointillism to toddler style splishing:

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I wasn’t overly enamored with the result, but once I had started adding bit and peices including leaves from about five different trees (!), whole flowers which I had painstakingly made the night before and of course the obligatory fairy, things started to look a bit more promising.  And once I added the butterfly fairy lights and attached the whole bush to the bench (which was acting as the bush’s truck) I was really quite pleased.  I mean, maybe I am easily pleased, but I think it almost looks bush like:

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I then went a bit mental sticking everything and anything I could find which might theoretically be found in a tree onto my two trees.  Yes, in my trees both butterflies and owls were seen as well as flowers (two different types on the same tree…), and lots of different leaves (not always from the same make of tree… by now I kept telling myself that an enchanted tree in an enchanted forest would definitely not be like normal trees in normal forests.  For example they might be found to be bi-leaf or even tri-leaf and would almost certainly have two types of flower!).  I had such trouble making the leaves stick, that each time the children were rehearsing we saw leaves flutter off.  In the end we called it autumn and that was that (not noticing of course that the clue to the season was in the title of the play, it being mid-summer not mid-autumn…..ah well, artistic license maybe?).  I have to say, they were worth the late nights and I was very happy with how they turned out:

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I also added a fairy or two, because you can’t have an enchanted forest without a fairy:

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They were then attached to the walls and beams in any which way we could find.  Andrew, Lorna’s husband found a way to make them look a little 3D and a little less flat whilst still maintaining the hide-ability quality.  I was really very happy with how it was all looking:

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We added the little ones woodland duvets and lit the flower fairy lights and created a fairy glade.  The purpose of this was for the little ones (who were acting Peasebottom and Cobweb in the play) to have a place to call their own through the duration of the play when they were not required on stage.  The glade would also have an endless supply of fairy raisins for the busy little fairies to nibble on:

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And here is the theater stage, all set up:

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Dress Rehearsal

We ran through all the acts except act two which our audience would be doing on the night.

  • Act I: Video

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  • Act III: Traditional Shakespeare

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  • Act IV: Music theater/ Glee style

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  • Act V: Puppet theater

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There was also much hanging out and playing around:

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All in all a really good week.  And looking back over these photos makes me realise just what a special experience this summer has actually been.

My next post will be all about the actual night.


  1. I am really proud of all of you. You all worked extremely hard and that shows in the way the whole thing went. I am still getting compliments from people who attended who thought it was fantastic. Well done everyone.

  2. Wow, Claire, the creativity of your family, both in the props department and of course the acting, is inspiring! I am sure your children will all have brilliant memories of this summer to look back on 🙂 Well done!

  3. Hello I have just been given a link to your blog through a mutual friend of ours as I told her we were going to try Home Educating!! I’m so pleased because your blog is amazing and we live in the same village! I’d love to meet up with you and your wonderful kids one day for any tips and and advice as I scarily take the plunge into this new chapter of our lives! Helen x

    1. Oooh, which mutual friend?? I’d be happy to get together definitely, but for safety sake maybe mutual friend needs to come for the first meeting? I always need to be fairly careful because whilst you now know me from my blog, I don’t know you at all.
      But I would love any chance to share about what we do. Homeschooling rocks….you’ll never look back!
      If you’d still like to meet up my email address is angelicscalliwags at bt openworld dot com

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