Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Teaching Resources
• Teaching Modules
Teaching Modules Archive

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Festival of Fools

Teachers' Rating:
  0 ratings

February 2009
Jennifer Lim teaches English at New Trier High School, Winnetka, Illinois.

Plays/Scenes Covered
King Lear
What's On for Today and Why

In groups, students will physicalize and enact text for the following characters: Lear, Gloucester, Cordelia, Goneril, Regan, Edmund, Edgar. Students will choose text that specifically demonstrates each character’s folly. In enacting these textual chunks, students will understand how different definitions of fool run throughout the play. Also, students will recognize that each character has his or her folly; folly is not limited to a few characters. The purpose of doing this exercise is to synthesize all the different definitions of fool and also show how each character’s folly contributes to the outcome of the play.


This lesson will take 50 minutes.

What You Need

Folger edition of King Lear
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

What To Do
  1. Group students into groups of 3-4 and assign each group a specific character.
  2. Ask each group to pick a passage from Lear that demonstrates that character’s folly or a time when that character acts like a fool. The passage should be composed of that character’s own words. They may cut lines as they wish.
  3. Students should then enact the passage in the following manner.
  4. All students will begin in a freeze frame – a tableau of the action to come.
  5. Then, student 1 will first physicalize the first chunk of text and then freeze for 3 seconds. Student 2 will do the next chunk of text and then freeze for 3 seconds. This process will continue until the passage is enacted and all students are in a ending freeze frame pose.
  6. Present the scenarios to the class.
  7. Ask the classmates, after each performance, to describe, from the performance, the nature of the folly being depicted. Also ask classmates how that folly might have affected the outcome of the play. Such questions can be asked in a “What if” format. For example, “What if Gloucester had not been duped so easily? Would Edmund have continued his fight for power and position?”
  8. End class by asking each student to answer the question, “I learned from these performances that…”

How Did It Go?
Did students, through performance and observation, better understand the different follies present in the play? Did students discuss how a character’s folly might affect the overall action of the play? At the end of the class, did students see, literally, how these different follies all together enhanced the action 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.

Login or register to post comments.

1 Comment

Great post, thanks for sharing! C. G. Automated Gates - Automated Gates Cheshire
Hannah January 9, 2015 6:42 AM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
Additional Information

Note to Mozilla Firefox Users: If the PDF documents are freezing, please try the following fix: Go to Tools. Under Options click the Applications icon. Under Content Type, find Adobe Acrobat Document. Select Use Adobe Reader. If the option already says Use Adobe Reader, try changing the option to Use Adobe Acrobat.

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623