London, May 10 : The works of Shakespeare are being cut into bite-sized chunks to make them easier for children to understand.
Theatres are staging productions of individual scenes, rather than the entire play, to meet the requirements of secondary school examinations.
Plays such as Richard III, The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing are being performed for just a few minutes each.
Traditionalists criticized the move and claimed that students are being denied the chance to properly appreciate the playwright.
The curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds dictates pupils are tested on two scenes from three Shakespearean plays, but are not required to read the works in full.
Pupils must be "familiar" with the extracts to answer questions about the characters, language of the text, themes and how it is performed, according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
"It's a sad indictment of the situation schools are in for organisations to feel that they have to go down this route," the Telegraph quoted Simon Gibbons, the chairman of the National Association for the Teaching of English's 14-19 committee, as saying.
But John Gallagher, the head of English at Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls, said: "If the Government is saying students must study Shakespeare at Key Stage 3, let's make it Shakespeare in performance, not just on the page. If this is how it is to be done, I would say 'excellent'."