With their new joint-venture, the Beeb and London’s Globe Theater are looking to spark a love of classical live theater among the youngest TV viewers.
Just as it has done for adult audiences for many years, the BBC will record live performances of the Bard at the theater he once owned a share in. This time, though, their target demo is kids who watch preschool channel CBeebies, which will kick things off by airing a version of As You Like It that features age-appropriate singing, dancing and audience interaction.
Performances of the comedic play are scheduled to take place at the Globe on August 9 and 10 this year. And families will have the chance to watch the recorded show at home when it airs on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer over Easter weekend in 2023.
This project was commissioned by Kate Morton, BBC Children’s head of commissioning and acquisitions, and production will be managed by BBC Kids and Family Productions with Vanessa Amberleigh attached as an executive producer.
The BBC has previously adapted The Tempest, Midsummer’s Night Dream and Romeo and Juliet for its older kid viewers. And cultivating a love of Shakespeare in young audiences with kid-friendly adaptations is not a new strategy. Preschool learning app Hopster has produced an animated series called Two Minute Tales for children ages four to six. Its third season (2020) features 10 episodes covering nine Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, in addition to a special episode dedicated to the Bard himself.