Charles West, Fresno Continuation High School, Fresno, California.
Any play may be used in this activity.
What's On for Today and Why
This activity is designed to enable students to see a Shakespeare play both as a whole and as a series of scenes. It will get students who won't read or perform out of their seats, and it gets the play out of the "book."
This lesson will take one class period to introduce but will extend throughout the study of the play.
What You Need
Folger editon of any Shakespeare play, scissors, tape, colored markers, a wall
What To Do
The overall idea of the "Shakespeare Wall" is to make a bar graph out of a Shakespeare play. This activity is a way for students to see all of the play at once in a form that reveals the scene structure and changing rhythms of the play.
1. Take a Folger edition of the play (because the text is printed on one side of the page), rip the covers off, and tear out all the pages. Cut off the margins at the top and bottom of each page so that only the lines of the play will show when you tape the pages together. Tape the pages of the play together lengthwise so that each scene is a separate vertical unit. When each scene is taped together, arrange the scene units (in sequence) on the wall so it looks like an upside-down bar graph.
2. Have students highlight various aspects of the play by using different color markers. Choose a word, theme or motif and highlight all instances where it appears in the play (for example, mark all references to "blood" in Macbeth; highlight all references to "eyes" in King Lear). Ask the students to mark various images or symbols which recur frequently, or mark different characters' lines with different colors so that students can count the number of lines each character speaks. Rhetorical devices and rhyming words (both ending and internal) could be also be highlighted. If you show a film version of the play in class, have students mark the lines cut from the film.
3. As the students continue to work on the wall over time, make a key to identify what each highlighted color means.
How Did It Go?
The easiest way to determine how well the whole thing went is to look at the wall and see how marked up the play is when you are done.
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.