Orem Public Library’s Shakespeare for Kids on its 23rd run

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As less students need study spaces during the summer time, the Orem Public Library is still drawing in crowds and making room for future readers of William Shakespeare’s works.

Orem Public Library is hosting its Shakespeare for Kids event, a weekly event that introduces young children to the bard’s plays every week throughout the month of June.

“Shakespeare for Kids is a program where we do a lot of Shakespeare plays. It’s about a 45-minute-long version where we actually have the kids do the actual acting,” co-presenter Joel Wallin said.

However, these kids are not mini professionals that have been memorizing their lines for weeks on end. Many have never heard of the stories they are performing until they step on the stage.

“The mission for Shakespeare for Kids is to get (the kids) excited and familiar with Shakespeare before it’s introduced with something scary and hard,” co-presenter Rebeca Wallin said.

Children are hand picked from the audience, given their roles and then are whispered their lines from Rebecca and Joel Wallin.

Rebecca Wallin works as part of BYU’s adjunct theatre faculty and has more than two decades of experience simplifying source material for the young thespians.

“I was asked to start it about 23 years ago. We were just supposed to do a Shakespeare thing for kids. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we decided to have the kids be the actors and it just kind of went from there,” Rebecca Wallin said.

Rebeca Wallin’s husband, Joel Wallin, said the couple’s approach to adapting Shakespeare’s plays is rather simple.

“We have an outline of the play, we go through the basic stories, we pepper in a few Shakespeare lines so that they get used to the language so that the kids can understand the entire flow,” Joel Wallin said.

This approach is not excluded to just the bard’s comedies, but is applied to all of Shakespeare’s genres for well-rounded exposure.

“We’ve done a tragedy, ‘Macbeth,’ and now we’ve done a comedy today, ‘As You Like It,’ and we’ll do our one history play which is ‘Richard III,’ and then we’ll do a lesser-known comedy, ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen,’ at the end,” Rebeca Wallin said.

There are two more weeks of Shakespeare for Kids in the Orem Public Library’s storytelling wing, and the space is open for all families wanting to participate.

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