Clear Lake High School, TX
This lesson is may be adapted for any Shakespeare play.
What's On for Today and Why
To practice close reading using both performance and directing techniques, and thus understanding multiple meanings and layers of a scene; to actively engage all students, especially those who are shy and less apt to read aloud.
This lesson will take one 90-minute class period or two 45-minute class periods.
What You Need
Folger Edition of the play you are studying
Copies of the scene you are using for each student
Tone sheet (optional)
What To Do
1) Choose a short scene from the Shakespeare play you’re reading.
Examples: The balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II), Caesar’s entry (Act I, Scene II) in Julius Caesar; or the “Put money in your purse scene” of Othello (Act I, Scene II)
2) Ask for acting volunteers, explaining that those not acting will be directing. Alternately, you may divide the class into two groups, actors and directors. For big scenes (with more than 4-5 or more characters), you may decide to have one group of actors and then several smaller groups of directors. Alternately,
for smaller scenes (like the balcony scene), you can have the same number of actor pairs as the number of director groups and then each group of directors has their own acting troupe.
For the first lesson, the actors and directors will work separately. In the second lesson, the actors will act out the scene based on the directors' instructions.
3) Pass out the scene. Have the actors read their scene together and discuss what’s going on. As they are working, you may want to encourage them to practice acting out various tones or emotional interpretations.
4) While the actors are working, split the directors into groups. In each group, the directors will discuss the scene and annotate tones for every line of dialogue, as well as blocking/gestures. Hand out a tone sheet if needed.
5) Walk around and observe. If you see students making the same choices in tone, try to steer them in alternate directions by asking them questions. For example, "How would the character feel if someone snuck in and watched them when they weren’t looking?" This gets the students out of the traditional emotions associated with the scenes and encourages them to take risks to find different performance choices.
1) Each group of directors will work with the actors to stage a new interpretation of the scene using the blocking and tone the directors developed in class one.
2) You may want to have the other students evaluate if the actors did an effective job following the directors' notes and if the new interpretations were successful.
Each group should perform one at a time.
How Did It Go?
After each scene, have the actors and directors explain the choices they made and how they felt about it. After everyone has performed, discuss which tones worked and why, and which ones didn’t.
Did students analyze meanings of words and characterization? Did they speak with purpose for specific audience and analyze and annotate for tones? Did they work effectively in groups? Did all students participate?
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.