Sue Biondo-Hench, Carlisle High School, Carlisle, PA.
Measure for Measure
What's On for Today and Why
Many of Shakespeare’s plays offer tantalizing tidbits of information that allude to scenes, moments, and responses that are not included within the specific text of the play. For example, in Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice says of Benedick, “You always end with a jade’s trick; I know you of old,” making it clear that Beatrice and Benedick had been involved earlier without clearly explaining why the relationship had gone awry. In this lesson, the students will hypothesize the content of these unscripted moments and responses, search for evidence in the actual text to support their hypothesis, and explore how this hypothesis would affect characterization.
This activity emphasizes higher level thinking, performance, and problem solving through direct involvement with the text.
This lesson will take at least two class sessions to complete.
What You Need
New Folger edition of Measure for Measure
What To Do
1. After reading the play, return to the moment in Act 5 when the Duke proposes to Isabella and she doesn’t answer him.
2. Divide the students into groups, and ask them to complete the following tasks: a. Create a scene that shows how you believe Isabella would respond to the Duke.
b. Look for textual evidence that supports your hypothesis.
c. Write either a script or an outline for a pantomime that will bring this scene to life.
d. Select one of Shakespeare’s scenes between Isabella and the Duke, and prepare a performance of it that is compatible with the created scene.
e. Prepare a defense (including textual support) of your decision-making process.
3. Have each group perform its pair of scenes and present its defense.
4. Discuss the similarities and differences among the scenes and responses.
How Did It Go?
Did the students create and perform a scene that was logistically supported with evidence from the text? Did the students perform Shakespeare's scene so that it was compatible with the created scene? Was the defense clear and complete? Was the performance (both scenes and the defense) prepared and interesting?
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.