Scott O'Neil teaches at North Harford High School, Pylesville, MD.
Any plays with which the students are familiar.
What's On for Today and Why
Today your students will take the scissors to Shakespeare, as they learn how and why to cut a scene. Through this activity and the following discussion, students will be better able to identify the more important elements of a scene. To do this successfuly, students will need to be aware of both the plot and the lines that make the play intellectually and emotionally engaging. Students will also learn that Shakespeare's text is not sacred and is often cut to accommodate budgetary or time restrictions.
This lesson will take 1-2 50 minute class periods.
What You Need
Copies of a particular scene for editing.
Various editions of the same play.
Cutting a Scene
What To Do
1. Have students discuss the main criteria for editing or cutting a scene:
- What does the audience HAVE to know?
- Does the scene still make logical sense after the cuts?
- Is the storyline still clear?
- Are there any key words/phrases that must be retained?
2. Divide students into groups of 4 or 5 and distribute copies of a scene with which students are familiar.
3. Have students read through the scene together aloud and discuss options for where cuts could occur.
4. Have students perform their cut scenes to each other and discuss their editing choices.
5. As a follow up activity, have students select a couple of specific scenes and compare several editions. Have them adopt the position of a specific editor and justify their editorial choices.
How Did It Go?
How did students approach the editing process? Did they recognize that close reading of the text was an essential prerequisite to editing? Were they able to justify their own editorial choices? What did they learn about the process by exploring various editions of the same scene?
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.