Craig Robertson, South Grand Prairie High School, Grand Prairie, Texas.
Twelfth Night, Act 2
What's On for Today and Why
This activity allows students to reinterpret Act 2 of Twelfth Night as a musical, using contemporary songs. Students will discover the meaning of the text and the relationships between the characters.
This lesson will take 2 class periods.
What You Need
Folger edition of Twelfth Night
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Soundtrack to Moulin Rouge
What To Do
1. Play the song from the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge entitled "Elephant Love Medley."
2. Divide the class into five groups, and assign each group a scene from Act 2. Have each group read through its scene together twice: first, to brush up on the plot, and second, to divide the scene into units. Explain to the students that a new unit is created each time a character's intention in the scene changes, a new character enters the scene, or the scene begins to move in a different direction. Some groups will come up with many units, but tell them to try to limit the units to ten.
3. Tell the groups that they will be creating a musical medley just as Baz Luhrmann did and that each unit will be replaced with a song of their choosing. Have the students discuss what is happening in each unit: is someone pleading to another? Is someone bragging? Is it a quarrel?
4. Now, have them find contemporary songs to fit the basic ideas of the units. Tell them to choose songs that they have on CD or tape at home, because they will be playing the songs for the class the next day. You may also want to put in place some guidelines: for example, no profanity.
5. On the second day, have the groups go to the front of the class in the order of their scenes. If time permits, have the groups read through the scenes; otherwise, have them briefly review the action of the scenes for the class. Then, have them play a bit of each song from their medleys. (Don't have them play the entire song, or this lesson will take a week to get through.) Ask each group to defend its choices. You may also want to discuss how music can help to clarify what happens in the play.
How Did It Go?
Do your students better understand what is happening in their scene? Can they defend their choice of songs by referring back to the text of the play? Have the students' choices illuminated the text in some way?
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.