Amy Krajeck, Webster Thomas High School, Webster, New York.
The Tempest 2.1 and 3.2
What's On for Today and Why
Students will edit 2.1 and 3.2 of The Tempest as if they were filming a documentary. The scenes deal primarily with the conspiracy plots on Prospero's island. Students will need to keep Shakespeare's language intact, as well as the sense of what is happening between the dual plans and their doppelganger organizers- Antonio and Caliban. At the end of the lesson, students perform their edited scripts.
Editing is a powerful tool for students, and any teacher who has ever asked her/his students to highlight the important parts of a story or essay knows that most students struggle with selecting important information and, therefore, end up coloring an entire page pink. Editing is the vice-versa of highlighting and forces students to be selective —choosing only the essential elements of the scene that must be communicated to an audience.
The lesson will take two class periods.
The Tempest 2.1 script
The Tempest 3.2 script
Rubric for script editing
What To Do
1. Have students read through 3.2. Give them copies of 2.1.219-339 and 3.2.1-166 to mark up.
2. Provide students with a guided discussion about cutting lines and discuss why a director might cut lines from a play or book. Tell students that their task is to create a documentary that focuses just on the conspiracy plots in the two selected scenes, and that they are to cut at least one third of the lines (or possibly half of the lines) from each passage without losing the sense of what is happening in each scene. Conclude the discussion by directing students to use their "director's eye" to make wise decisions about what to cut. Instruct students to use pencil to make their cross-outs directly on the handout given to them.
3. Assign students to work in pairs for 2.1 and in groups of four for 3.2 (Note: it is possible for all students to work in pairs if the roles of Ariel and Trinculo are cut from 3.2. Cutting these characters does not lessen the sense of the conspiracy that is brewing.) In pairs or groups, have students cut at least a third of the script-making careful decisions so the work itself is not destroyed. Since this is also a lesson in negotiation and team work, students will need to work together to determine which lines must be kept, which lines could possibly be cut, and which lines must be cut. Students will probably need the first class period to get this far. For homework, students should be directed to retype the lines they kept so they have a cohesive, readable script.
4. Once the students have finished editing their scripts, they should block the lines they kept and perform the scene for the class. Ask students to identify parallels between the two plots and discuss their editorial decisions.
How Did It Go?
The rubric for assessing the assignment consists of evaluating how students did as participants in pairs or groups of four, how they did with the editing of the scenes, performance of the editied scenes, and their explanantions of the choices they made. A scale of 1 to 4 will work well with this exercise, with 4 being the highest score a student can receive in any category.
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.