John Jellicoe and Herbert Railton. Macbeth banquet scene, Lyceum Theatre. Pen and ink drawing, 1889 (Detail)
Kimberly N. Parker, Freire Charter School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
This lesson can be used with any of Shakespeare's plays.
What's On for Today and Why
Students often have a hard time summarizing the important events in a given scene. This activity forces students to make those decisions and act them out in front of their peers. Students who stumble may call for help, and the dramatization will continue until its conclusion with new actors.
This lesson will take less than one class period; it is therefore a good "bell ringer".
What You Need
New Folger text of any Shakespeare play
What To Do
1. Have students read a particular act or scene, either independently or as a group.
2. Give the students some time (5-10 minutes) to determine the most important parts of the given scene. This can also be assigned for homework.
3. Next, pick an appropriately sized group of volunteers or selected students to act out the scene.
4. Give students a limited amount of time (perhaps 2 minutes, but select according to the number of students and their abilities) to act out the scene in their own words. Options include limiting the number of words they may use (perhaps no words at all), or perhaps limiting the number of actions they are allowed. This can be modified to have students dramatize important imagery, points of characterization, etc.
5. At any moment during the dramatization, if a student becomes stuck, she may yell "Help!" whereupon all the actors should freeze. A student from the audience should immediately stand up and take the place of the actor who has called for help. The scene should then continue from the spot at which it stopped. The goal is for students to maintain the integrity of the scene. It also requires students to pay attention to their peers and be ready at a moment's notice to step in and play a part.
How Did It Go?
Were students able to understand and communicate the major events in a given act or scene? Did they willingly participate or try? Were other students willing and able to help out their fellow actors?
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.
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Common Core State Standards
There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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