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Interactive video lesson plan for: Give no words but mum - Shakespeare Speaks

Activity overview:

It's William Shakespeare's birthday and we're bringing you phrases to talk about keeping secrets!

For the transcript click 'SHOW MORE'.

For activities and extra materials connected to this episode: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/shakespeare/unit-1

Narrator
It was the 23rd of April. William Shakespeare's daughter and his actor friends Robert Harley and Thomas Swann are at the Duck and Whistle. They're getting ready for a celebration. Bess the barmaid is in charge.

Bess
Now have we got everything? Beer, ale… Where's that Mary Bassett? She's supposed to be bringing the pies…

Mary
Here I am, pies and all! I've brought some lovely meat pies and I've got Mr Will's favourite here: a nice cherry pie.

All
Ooohhh lovely, he'll like that, lovely…

Daughter
Oh, I'm so excited Mary! I love parties! Isn't it wonderful having a party for Father's birthday!

Mary
Now don't you go telling Mr Will before he gets here, Miss Shakespeare, remember: it's a surprise. Like John Hume says in your father's play Henry VI part II: Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum…

Thomas Swann as John Hume
Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum:
The business asketh silent secrecy.

Daughter
Give no words but mum… I promise, I won't say a word to anyone. Really, I won't!

Narrator
We'll leave them there for now. The exact date of William Shakespeare's birth is not recorded, but it's generally believed that the most likely date was Sunday the 23rd of April, which, interestingly, was also the date of his death, in 1616, at the age of 52. The phrase Give no words but mum, simply means: don't tell anyone - it's a secret. These days, it's usually simplified to just keep mum. Take Australian news website 9News, writing about Mark Hamill, the Star Wars actor, who spoke of how he had to keep the Star Wars storyline secret. The headline was:

Clip 1
Mark Hamill to keep mum amid Star Wars Skywalker speculation

Narrator
Another version of the phrase is Mum's the word.

Clip 2
Don't tell anyone you saw me here. Mum's the word!

Mary
Ssshhh everybody, here he comes now!

All
Quick, hide, behind the bar, get down, he'll see you…

Will
Good afternoon Bess, a pint of your finest… Bess? Hello? Where is everyone?!

All
Surprise!!!! Happy birthday!!!

Daughter
Happy birthday father!

Will
Daughter?! Is all this for me?!

Daughter
Yes, father, it is!

Thomas Swann
Happy birthday Will!

Will
Thank you, Thomas.


Mary
Happy birthday, Mr Will. Have some cherry pie.

Bess
Here Mr Will, pint of ale for you.

Will
Well now! To party, or… no. Let's party!

All
Hooray!

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