Nina Williams, Kenwood High School, Chicago, Illinois.
Katherine Sanford, , student, Madeira School, McLean, Virginia.
This is a pre-reading activity for Julius Caesar.
What's On for Today and Why
Students will perform a two-line play using lines from the first act of Julius Caesar, introducing the students to the language and some of the issues of the play. As an optional extension, they can look at descriptions of Caesar and Brutus in the text, in order to begin to think about the roles of these two main characters.
This lesson will take one class period.
What You Need
Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Julius Caesar character
Julius Caesar Lines
What To Do
1. The first handout below has a list of significant sentences from the first act of Julius Caesar. Distribute the handout to the students and give each of them a specific line from the handout. Or, to make the activity easier for students, give each student an index card with only one of the lines written on it.
2. Divide students into pairs. Ask each pair to devise a short skit in which their two lines are the only lines spoken. Students should choose a set of actions to make sense of these lines. Allow students to converse and experiment for about ten minutes.
3. Have each group perform their skits for the class. There should be a thunderous round of applause after each group performs.
4. After each group has performed, discuss the activity with the students. How did they feel delivering the lines? What did they think of Shakespeare's language? What do they think the play is about?
5. As an optional extension, distribute the second handout and ask students to complete it as a worksheet. Here, they will read different descriptions of the characters and begin to get a sense of who they are.
How Did It Go?
Did students get up on their feet and have fun creating their skits? Were they able to offer opinions about the language and inferences about the topic(s) of the play?
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.