As quoted by a reporter in a NJ Camden County newspaper article, May 6, 2008:
"'I had to practice hard. I really winged it my first day, but I learned how to look at words before reading them', said [Nick Bottom] whose role called for frequent interplay with audience members."
One reason for the frequent interplay was because Shakespeare "himself" had directed this player to do exactly that. In fact, Shakespeare himself (or some guy who looked, sounded, and dressed an awful lot like him) had actually stopped the action to give this actor some direction--in front of the audience! But, knowing that the performance of "Rehearsing A Midsommer Nights Dreame With Shakespeare" had been billed as just that--a rehearsal, the audience members weren't too put off by the rudeness of this Impostor.
Another of the reasons Bottom's "...role called for frequent interplay..."?
The rest of the students in the school, grades 1-4, were a big part of the process. They were watching how well a 5th grader had learned how to "...look at words...", and they already knew some of what he was going to say. Having worked on some of those words, and many more, as part of a month long program involving words and concepts often billed as "too hard" or "too advanced for their age group", they were familiar with Bottom's "Raging Rocks" "bad acting" tirade in Act I of A Midsummer Night's Dream. So familiar, in fact, that when the guy dressed as "Shakespeare" once again stopped the action to ask his Apprentice Players if they remembered the speech, they showed him how well They had learned "how to look at words"--and how. On the count of three, the entire remainder of the school, grades 1-4, in perfect unison, and without a hitch, recounted, from memory, a speech they were never asked to memorize. But they'd heard it enough, spoken it out loud, worked on it and other speeches in pieces and bits, while depending on the cooperation of their fellow students to support their efforts when they were asked.
The teachers and parents in attendance were not a little amazed at this response from an entire student body. But Shakespeare? ...Somehow he knew the chance he was taking wasn't all that risky. He and His Players had come to a mutual respect and interest when it came to each others Knowledge, Abilities, and Talents.
So, I'm asking: How old is too young to learn something about Shakespeare? JM