Shakespeare on the Green is a summer tradition in Omaha. For three weekends starting at the end of June, hundreds of people pack a picnic, a bottle of wine and gallons of bug spray, and they head to that swath of grass behind the University of Omaha to watch some live theater. They go to this free event to relax outdoors.
I bring my kids and ruin that.
Kids should go to Shakespeare on the Green with their parents, certainly. It’s just a lot more work to bring them. But do it, at least once.
We’re not going this year because we still need to recover from our first trip to Shakespeare on the Green with them – the very loud meltdown, the begging for food from strangers, the unfinished beer I had to dump because of our quick exit. But, I still stand by my feeling that children are welcome and should be at Shakespeare on the Green. But, you need a game plan.
Surviving Shakespeare on the Green With Children
Pack Smart – The Bard is great and all, but your children aren’t going to stay glued to the stage. I recommend bringing a variety of quiet toys (not throwing toys like a football, this does not amuse your neighbors during the show). Some essentials to pack, even if you aren’t bringing a rugrat: Bug spray, flashlight, dinner or snacks, and something to drink. And alcohol (don’t forget the corkscrew or bottle opener). You’ll also need something to sit on, so chairs or blankets.
Sit Strategically – You may need a quick escape with a rily child. I sure did and there is nothing fun about weaving through an attentive crowd with a Sit-n-Stand stroller over grass while two children sob. There’s also nothing quick about it. So, sit near the back or on the outskirts of the crowd on either side.
Go Early – Seems counter-intuitive, but this is a good idea if you’re bringing children who have the Cinderella complex like Mooch. She’s wonderful until a certain hour of the evening and then she’s unpredictable and on a short fuse and then we have to leave like 5 minutes ago. Go early and enjoy the pre-show activities and absorb the atmosphere. Then, when you inevitably have to leave at intermission – or worse, right in the middle of the quietest part of Act I – you won’t feel like you missed as much.
Discuss – Since you got there early and all, read through the program and explain in simple terms what will be happening on stage. The people behind Shakespeare on the Green do remarkable things and present very entertaining theater, but it’s still not easy to follow, especially if you’re more comfortable with “Curious George” 12-minute stories. If your child seems interested, talk about the action over intermission. See if he can tell you what happened. Ask him what he thinks of it.
– Visit the dress up tent with the kids. It’s just fun to check out and get all Elizabethan with your family.
– Bring some cash to donate to this free community event. Have your child put the money in the bucket.
– There are two shows presented each year. This season, it’s “Twelfth Night” and “Titus Adronicus.” Word of warning, “Titus Adronicus” has mature content and is graphic in nature, so parental discretion is recommended.