Bring Shakespeare's words to new life yourself, with a favorite passage or a play-acted scene, at home or with additional players from afar. Share a video or photos on social media, tagging @FolgerLibrary and using #ShareYourShakespeare, so everyone can enjoy them.
Select a favorite passage from Shakespeare's plays or sonnets, or try one that's new to you. Read it aloud and upload the video to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, tagging @FolgerLibrary and using the hashtag #ShareYourShakespeare.
Try out these options:
- Read the passage by itself, and let the words speak for themselves.
- Read the passage, but also say what it means to you or why you chose it. Make a note about what you'd like to say. You can say it before or after Shakespeare's lines.
- At home or on a video conference call, turn a speech into a group activity with "choral" reading where everyone reads it together.
- Consider props or costume pieces to add to your video.
- If you can, try a translation.
Explore Macbeth in Spanish, translated by Alfredo Michel Modenessi, a member of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.
Read the "to be or not to be" speech from Hamlet in 12 languages: Arabic | Creole | Esperanto | French | Hawaiian | Kiowa Indian | Mandarin | Portuguese | Russian | Sim Braille | Spanish | Vietnamese
>> Watch | One of our McKee High School Fellows reads "to be or not to be" in Spanish
How to find a passage—and some tips on reading it:
If you have a speech in mind, but you don't know the exact words, you can look it up on The Folger Shakespeare, which offers free text for all of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
Not sure which passage to choose? Try selecting one of these famous passages:
- The sonnet that starts "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
- Hamlet's speech that begins "To be or not to be."
- Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech, rallying support at Julius Caesar's funeral against his assassins
Download these "Spontaneous Shakespeare" scripts (PDF) for short, curated monologues:
- Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra
- Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Edgar in King Lear
- Lady Macbeth in Macbeth
- Jaques in As You Like It
We've also come up with some passages on strength and resilience and the power of love, art, and nature, suggested by the tragedy and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- In As You Like It, the forest-dwelling Duke Senior's praise of nature and "sermons in stones," starting with the line "Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile."
- In Julius Caesar, the short passage by Brutus before the battle of Philippi that begins, "There is a tide in the affairs of men / Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
- In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus's speech on the role of imagination, starting with the phrase, "More strange than true," and including the famous line "As imagination bodies forth / The form of things unknown."
- In The Tempest, Caliban's sensory description of the island, beginning, "Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, / Sounds and sweet airs."
- Orsino's famous opening speech in Twelfth Night, which starts, "If music be the food of love, play on."
Check out this Folger lesson plan to learn more about closely reading "soliloquies" (one-person scenes). Bonus: This plan includes choral readings by groups, too.
Get together with those at home or assemble via videoconferencing to put on a scene with multiple players. Make a recording or take photos and upload them to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, tagging @FolgerLibrary and using the hashtag #ShareYourShakespeare.
Accessorize your production:
- Print out props that you can cut out for your production. Among the options are a crown, a feather, a skull, a Tudor rose, Shakespeare's head, a mask, a poison bottle, or a dagger.
- Use backdrops for Zoom or other videoconferencing apps. Try these Folger Theatre sets for a great background for a play.
- Pick out the items you have on hand for costumes—a hat can make all the difference. To suggest Elizabethan dress, check out our Folger video on Making a Ruff from paper.
Select a scene:
Want to do a fight scene? Download this two-person "Spontaneous Shakespeare" script (PDF) from King Lear.
For other scenes to try, select one of our six short Shakespeare scripts for kids, taken from Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest (two choices), and The Winter's Tale.
Or choose your own! Look through the plays in The Folger Shakespeare and pick a scene. Remember that Shakespeare's plays are almost always cut before production, so feel free to keep some lines and cut out others—perhaps many others—to make a scene that works for you.