Shakespeare Unshackled

100% refund, no matter what. Details


Shakespeare Unshackled

An Easy-to-Use Language Arts Play for Elementary through High School

Grades 5-9+
35 minutes
(2 or more Book/CD sets @ $30 each)

In Stock.

Includes script, teacher's guide, and audio CD. The CD has all the songs recorded twice: first with singing, so you and your students can learn the songs, and then without voices so your students can perform without us singing along.

You'll also get free bonuses, including phone consultations with the composer!


Order Now!

For individual teachers/classes:
Book/CD - $39.95 for 1, $30/ea for 2+
Hint: order 1 for each teacher. (details)

For 3+ teachers or whole schools:
Site License - $75.00
Comes with 3 copies of book/CD plus unlimited photocopying rights (details)
School/site name:

Musical extras:
Vocal Score - $9.95 (details)
Extra/Replacement CD - $9.95

Or order by phone, fax or PO

This 35-minute musical play can be done as a complete play, skits, reader's theater, or you can just sing songs. No music or drama experience needed!

This show answers every question everyone has ever had about Shakespeare.

Well, maybe it doesn't quite do that. But it does touch on many cool aspects of Shakespeare's life, Elizabethan London, and plays and theater. Most of the titles of Shakespeare's plays are mentioned (often in humorous contexts), and there are dozens of quotations from Shakespeare, including extended passages from Othello and Romeo and Juliet (and a fractured description of A Midsummer Night’s Dream). It's a perfect introduction for students and audiences to the real thing!

Shakespeare Unshackled is a great complement to your curriculum resources in elementary, middle and high school language arts. And, like all of our plays, this show can be used to improve reading, vocabulary, reading comprehension, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork, and numerous social skills (read about it!) -- all while enabling students to be part of a truly fun and creative experience they will never forget!

(For more Shakespeare goodness, also see our play Macbeth, the Musical Comedy.)

Key Concepts

Shakespeare Unshackled reinforces students' famililarity with:

  • Shakespeare's life
  • the nature of theatrical productions (actors, staging, audience, especially as regards the Old Globe Theatre)
  • acting companies and patronage
  • Elizabethan and Jacobean London
  • structure and style of plays
  • sources
  • the canon
Author: Ron Fink (Composer) and John Heath (Book and Lyrics)
ISBN: 978-1-886588-39-4
© 2007 Bad Wolf Press, LLC

"It was amazing! Our production pulled students together as well as the parents."

---Gina Anestos, Teacher (5th/6th grade) Hollywood Beach Elementary, Oxnard, CA

"Everyone loved it and kids loved the catchy tunes. They especially liked the song 'At the Globe.' We wore dark sunglasses when we performed that song!

---Colleen Rowles, Teacher (5th grade) St. Joseph School, Placentia, CA

"We used this production to learn more about Shakespeare. Your song melodies and lyrics are catchy and most are humming the tunes well into the summer. Your plays allow for verstility and are fun to do for both teachers and students."

---Rita Stolt, Teacher, (PK 4 - 8th grade) St. Paul Lutheran School, Bloomer, WI

"Kids enjoy the songs and their lines were very age appropriate. The parents were very pleased with the subject matter."

---Carol Wallace, Teacher (6th grade) Sims School, Elk Grove, CA

"I absolutely loved it. The songs are upbeat and the tunes catchy. The script was well-written and funny.""

---Machelle Rogers, Teacher (6th grade), Rosamond Elementary, Riverton, UT

"My initial reaction to the play was not very positive. However, when I introduced it to my class, I began to realize what an excellent teaching opportunity I had. My students really got into it and began asking questions and doing research on Shakespeare's plays. They wrote and added their own explanations at certain parts and even wrote their own rap song to include."

---Susan Calise, Teacher, (8th grade) Our Lady of Guadalupe School, Brooklyn, NY


Flexible casting from 11-40 students.
Use as many Media Consultants, Groundlings, etc. as desired.
One student can easily play several roles if needed. Note that
all roles can be played by either boys or girls; see our comments
on page 31 of the Teacher's Guide.


This is the first one-third of the script:


Otto (Teaching Assistant)
Agnes (resident of Stratford-upon-Avon)
Lionel (friend of Agnes)
Mrs. Smith (teacher of Shakespeare---not)
Manager of The King's Men
Anne (frustrated actor)
Sara (Anne's friend)
Student in audience
Ben Jonson(poet & friend of Shakespeare)
William Shakespeare (you know)
Poets (jealous rivals of Shakespeare)
Hailey (Teaching Assistant)
Richard Bourbage (actor in King's Men)
Groundlings (lower-class theater-goers)
Spectators (higher-class theater-goers)
Media Consultants (marketing gurus)
King James I (King of England)
Attendant (servant of King James)
and a CHORUS comprised of all students who are not
playing roles on stage at the time.

Song 1 - Listen now!

ENTIRE CLASS (faces audience and sings):
Shakespeare Unshackled
Shakespeare 101
Gonna study hard about the bard
We're gonna learn a ton.

Shakespeare Unshackled
Gotta be a whiz
(pointing to audience at the word you)
This applies to you 'cause when we're through
There's gonna be a quiz.

Let's go back to merry England
In the sixteenth century
What a thrill to chat with Will
And share share share share a cup of tea.

PROFESSOR (steps forward out and addresses audience):
Actually, tea wasn't introduced to Britain until the
seventeenth century.

MEMBER of CLASS: That's the Professor. She

Shakespeare Unshackled
Background to the plays
Grab the ink and quill and just ask Will
We're gonna all get A's!

Shakespeare Unshackled
All you need to know
Get your booster shots and set the clocks to
Four hundred years ago.

Let's go back to merry England
When Will Shakespeare was about
Oh how keen to meet the queen
And get get get get a little gout.

PROFESSOR (spoken): Gout is no laughing matter.
King Henry VIIIth suffered terribly.

STUDENT: Our professor even knows stuff about
royal toes!

Shakespeare Unshackled
Shakespeare 101
Gonna study hard about the bard
We¹re gonna learn a ton.

(CLASS exits or sits down. PROFESSOR and OTTO step
forward to audience.)

PROFESSOR (to audience): Welcome. I'm Professor
Hammitup, your guide to Shakespeare's life and times.
And this is my teaching assistant, Otto.

OTTO (very dramatically):
O perjured woman! Thou dost stone my heart,
And mak'st me call what I intend to do
A murder, which I thought a sacrifice.

PROFESSOR (to audience): Otto takes Shakespeare very seriously.

OTTO: I SAW the handkerchief.

PROFESSOR (to OTTO): So, it's Othello today?

OTTO: Out, strumpet! Weep'st thou for him to my face?

PROFESSOR: That's enough now.

OTTO: Down, strumpet!


OTTO: Oh, sorry, professor. I'm a method actor.

PROFESSOR: Not now. Come along. We've got a class to teach.

OTTO: Where are we going this time?

PROFESSOR: Sixteenth-century England. Stratford-upon-Avon,
a little village 100 miles from London, to be exact. April, 1564.

OTTO: Shakespeare's birthplace!

PROFESSOR (to audience): I've always found it much
more exciting to VISIT history rather than just
read about it.

OTTO: Me too! Let's get going!
(back to dramatic speech)
I have but an hour
Of love, of worldly matters and direction,
To spend with thee. We must obey the time.

PROFESSOR: We only have 20 minutes, Othello.

OTTO (happy): I'm down with that.

(TWO sixteenth-century Englanders, AGNES and LIONEL,
come on stage.)

PROFESSOR: Ah, here are two villagers from Stratford-upon-Avon.

OTTO: Whew! What's that smell?

AGNES: Oh, you must've caught a whiff of Lionel here.

LIONEL: It ain't my fault. I took a bath just last month.

AGNES: That wasn't a bath. You fell in the river.

LIONEL: Same thing.

PROFESSOR: Could you tell us where the Shakespeares live?

AGNES: John Shakespeare, the glove-maker?
Over there, on Henley Street. His wife Mary just had
their third child. William.

LIONEL: That kid will never amount to anything.

AGNES: You think he'll be a thief?

LIONEL: Or a pickpocket.

AGNES: Or a lawyer!

LIONEL: Or worst of all...


AGNES: Life in England is tough these days---
it's no place for poets.

Song 2 - Listen now!

Things are topsy and they're turvy
We've got plague and we've got scurvy

There are chickens in the kitchen and my bed is one big flea

It is noisy and it's smelly
And there¹s nothin' on the telly

In the wacky world of England in the sixteenth century.

We've got aches and we've got twitches
That were given us by witches

We've got Catholics versus Protestants and there's no referee

We've got plots and we've got treason
Looks like it's beheadin' season

In the wacky world of England in the sixteenth century.

Oh in the wacky world of England in the sixteenth century.

In the wacky world of England
The stars control our fate
Though my life is a disaster
My horoscope is great!

Queen Elizabeth's our ruler
And there ain't nobody cooler

She sent Francis Drake around the world to see what he could see

Spain's Armada was a baddy
But she said "Now who's your daddy?"

In the wacky world of England in the sixteenth century.

Oh in the wacky world of England in the sixteenth century.

(THEY exit.)

PROFESSOR: We don't know much about Shakespeare's
childhood or youth.

OTTO: We do NOW, Professor! I found Shakespeare's
third-grade teacher, Mrs. Smith.

(OTTO steps over and escorts the elderly
MRS. SMITH to center stage)

MRS. SMITH: I remember young Will very well. That
boy could certainly twirl a baton. His tap dancing
routines were marvelous. And the way he could
juggle poodles---three at a time! Such a fine young man.

PROFESSOR: Are you sure you're talking about William Shakespeare?

MRS. SMITH: WILLIAM Shakespeare? Oh, sorry. No. I don't
remember him at all. I was talking about his cousin Buster.

PROFESSOR (gives OTTO a glare, then speaks again to audience):
In 1582, when he was just 18 years old, he married Anne
Hathaway an older woman.

OTTO: By 1592 Shakespeare was in London earning a living
as an actor and playwright, without his wife and children.

PROFESSOR: London in the 1590s. Professional theater is
flourishing. Between outbreaks of the plague, of course,
and the censorship of the Master of the Revels.
(MANAGER appears)
Here's a manager of one of the theater troupes. He's
looking for a new actor.

MANAGER (to audience): The trouble with actors is
that they all want to get paid. It's an incredible nuisance.

(ANNE and SARA enter; SARA is holding a piece of paper)

ANNE (to SARA): There he is!

MANAGER: Oh no. Not them again.

ANNE (to MANAGER): Aren't you the manager of The Lord
Chamberlain's Men?

MANAGER: And what if I am?

SARA (waving the piece of paper): Well, we've seen your
ad for an actor. And we've come to apply. We want to
work with Shakespeare.

MANAGER: Look, I told you last time. And the time before
that. You two can't be actors.

ANNE: Just because we're women?

MANAGER: Acting is no job for a lady. It's constant
performances: 5-6 afternoons a week, maybe 200 a year.
Traveling out of town when there's an outburst of plague.

SARA: Don't give us any of this "weaker sex" stuff.
You let teenage BOYS be actors.

MANAGER: It's not my decision. It's ILLEGAL for women
to act on stage.
(Takes the ad in his hand from SARA, points to it)
Didn't you read the fine print?

Song 3 - Listen now!

No women
It says right here
No women
The law is clear
No women can take up the acting art.

No women
Upon the stage
No women
Of any age
A teenage boy will play the woman's part.
A teenage boy will play the woman's part.

A boy plays Cleopatra now?
I'm telling you that's weird
And Juliet will wake one day and have to shave her beard?!

No women?
That really stinks.
No women?
That's wrong, me thinks
The dumbest thing I think I've ever seen.

No women!
Now hold the phone
A woman
Is on the throne
We can't come act but we can be queen?
We can't come act but we can be queen.

In Shakespeare's As You Like It
It all gets out of hand
A boy will play a woman who pretends to be a man!

No women

No women

It says right here
No women
No women

The law is clear
No women can take up the acting art
A teenage boy will play the woman's part.

A teenage boy will We can't come act but
play the woman's part. we can be queen.

(THEY exit. BEN JONSON walks on stage. HE notices the
audience, stops and addresses them.)

JONSON: Oh, hello. You here for the Shakespeare thing?
I thought so. I'm Ben Jonson.

STUDENT in AUDIENCE (shouts out): How do you spell that?

JONSON: Jonson. J-O-N-S-O-N.
(to audience)
I love it when they take notes.

STUDENT: How come there's no H in Jonson?

JONSON: No H? Umm, I don't know.

STUDENT: It looks weird without an H. I'm gonna
write it with an H.

JONSON (to audience): It's my fate. I'm a famous
playwright too. A good friend of Will's. But most
of the rest of us other Elizabethan authors seem
to get forgotten in the sands of time.

SHAKESPEARE (entering, holding a quill and piece of paper):
Ben! Ben, I need your help.

JONSON (to audience): Ah, here's Shakespeare now!
Will! Tell me, friend, what can I do for you? An honest
tale speeds best, being plainly told.

SHAKESPEARE: Hey, that's good. "An honest tale speeds
best, being plainly told." Let me write that down.

JONSON: What's the problem?

SHAKESPEARE: It's my new comedy---I can't come up with
a title. I have not slept one wink in nearly two weeks.
This was the twelfth night.

JONSON: I'm sure you're making much ado about nothing.

SHAKESPEARE: The whole production has been a comedy of errors.

JONSON: Sounds like a tempest.

SHAKESPEARE: I'm afraid all my love's labor's lost.

JONSON: Stop worrying so much. You'll figure it out.
Just title it any way you like it.

SHAKESPEARE: As I like it, eh?

JONSON: As you like it. As long as it has a happy
ending it'll be fine.

SHAKESPEARE: You're right---all's well that ends well.
Sometimes I feel this huge burden, like every word has
to be great.

JONSON: Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great,
some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust
upon them.

SHAKESPEARE: That's another good one! Mind if I use it?

JONSON: What are friends for? My nature is full o' the
milk of human kindness.

SHAKESPEARE: Hey, you want to come see the rehearsal?

JONSON: I'd love to Will, but I'm meeting two gentlemen
of Verona over at the merchant of Venice---we're going
dancing with the merry wives of Windsor. I'll catch the
first performance, though.

(to audience)
Great guy, Ben. Spells his last name a bit funny, though.

(from off-stage shouts are heard)

POET #1: There he is! There's Shakespeare!

POET #2: Get him!

SHAKESPEARE: Oh no! It sounds like poets! They're always after me.
(to audience)
Parting is such sweet sorrow. But I gotta fly!

(SHAKESPEARE races off in opposite direction as POETS
run on from other side of stage)

POET #1: He got away again!

POET #2: I HATE that guy!

POET #1: You know how hard it is for us poets to come up
with any new expressions with Shakespeare around?

POET #2: Every time we think we've coined some clever
new phrase, it turns out Shakespeare got there first.
It's so annoying.

Song 4 - Listen now!

"Elbow room" and "catch a cold"
"All that glitters isn't gold"
How many phrases can just one guy make?

"Heartsick" "leap frog" "fancy free"
"One fell swoop" "it's Greek to me"
He made up "goodness' sake," for goodness' sake!

Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

He's a phrasemaker

Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

He's a phrasemaker
Got that golden touch
Got that golden touch

The lady doth protest too much!
She doth protest too much!

ONE of POETS (male): Hey, who you calling a "lady"?!

"Love is blind" "the game is up"
"Laughing stock" "ay, there"s the rub"
That "green-eyed monster" has me you can tell.

"In a pickle" "flaming youth"
"Break the ice² and ³naked truth"
They're "household words"---but that's his phrase as well!


Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo
He's a phrasemaker
Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo
He's a phrasemaker
Got that golden touch
Got that golden touch


The lady doth protest too much!
She doth protest too much!

(POETS exit. PROFESSOR and HAILEY enter.)

PROFESSOR (to audience): Hello, class. I hope you enjoyed
meeting Shakespeare. Oh, and this is my other teaching
assistant, Hailey.

HAILEY (to audience, very properly): Hello.

PROFESSOR: I haven't seen Otto. I shudder to think what
he may be doing, running around London in 1599.

OTTO (runs across stage, shouting dramatically): A horse!
a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

(This concludes the first one-third of the script.)

Sample Songs

Click on the song name to hear samples. Please note that internet song samples have low fidelity and rest assured that the CDs we sell sound much better! (This player requires Flash. If you have any trouble hearing the samples, just contact us for help.)

Full Song List

1. Shakespeare Unshackled
2. The Wacky World of England
3. No Women
4. Phrasemaker
5. At the Globe
6. Words Are All You Need
7. No One Cares 'bout History
8. Too-Rah-Loo-Rah-Aye
9. Shakespeare Unshackled (reprise)

Common Core and Other National Standards

Language Arts

History/Social Studies

Fine Arts

  • National Music Standard 1 for 5th-8th
  • National Theater Standards 2 and 6 for 5th-8th, Standard 2 for 9th-12th


King James
Richard Bourbage
Spanish Armada
Francis Drake
Christopher Marlowe
Lord Chamberlain's Men
Queen Elizabeth
Ben Jonson
The King's Men

General Vocabulary:

booster shots
method actor
fine print
"Who's your daddy?"*
"hold the phone"*

*We have some fun with a few anachronistic phrases in our Musical. In this we follow the model of Shakespeare himself, famous for his many creative "errors."