Teaching Shakespeare

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Teaching Shakespeare

  1. 1. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE There are many approaches to teaching Shakespeare to different levels from Stage 4 to 6 What are the main difficulties with teaching Shakespeare?
  2. 2. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE <ul><li>The language of Shakespeare </li></ul><ul><li>The complicated plots of the plays especially the comedies or history plays </li></ul><ul><li>The lack of stage directions </li></ul><ul><li>The use of Acts, scenes and lines </li></ul><ul><li>The use of blank verse </li></ul><ul><li>The complication of the historical setting of the plays </li></ul>
  3. 3. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE The difficulty of Shakespeare is it brings with it so much cultural baggage that we feel students should know everything. We have to work out what to cover and what to leave out. I believe that we can leave out some of the scenes which do not enhance the action.
  4. 4. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE <ul><li>The language – as students become a bit more familiar with the language they do begin to understand it. </li></ul><ul><li>With most classes – including the very ordinary junior classes it is a great idea to translate as you go </li></ul><ul><li>Cut scenes which are irrelevant to students – e.g. the long speech between Titania and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. </li></ul>
  5. 5. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE <ul><li>provide a glossary for each scene </li></ul><ul><li>When you start teaching the play make sure you provide a vocabulary – glossary for the students. </li></ul><ul><li>Do this as you go – scene by scene </li></ul>
  6. 6. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE Encourage students to read the parts. If a student is reluctant, give that student a coach – another student to sit beside and prompt. Often the drama students are really good at Shakespeare, but they may need a helper.
  7. 7. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE Often, when we have read the scene a few times, I get students to come out the front and do the actions and facial expressions while another student reads the words.
  8. 8. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE Films – how to use them One way to teach Shakespeare is to read an Act and then show that section of the film with students reading along with their texts. After showing an original traditional version of Shakespeare show a modern version – the recent BBC series or modernist versions.
  9. 9. TEACHING SHAKESPEARE Another good idea is to read a scene in class and then write a modern language expansion of the scene. For instance, when lady Macbeth is going mad, write a scene where the servants, including her nurse, are speaking about her at the lunch table. Then the scene with the nurse and the doctor. (see handout) The next slide shows what happened before the opening of the play.
  10. 10. Flashback the dining room of Macbeth’s castle. – This is not in the play Macbeth and his wife having a drink after dinner. Macbeth: That Duncan is a really weak king – he gives his favourites what they want and if you aren’t in his good books you get nothing. Lady Macbeth: I’ve always despised him. He only got to be King because he was his uncle’s favourite. It should have been you. Macbeth: I could still get enough supporters to challenge him – but it could go wrong. Besides he has those two sons – Malcolm and Donalbain. Lady Macbeth: Here’s to you my darling – you would make a great king. Duncan can’t live long – then you’ll make your run for king. It is a pity we couldn’t hasten his death.
  11. 11. Macbeth: But – let’s not think of this tonight – it is my last night before we go to battle. Come to bed – bring the bottle and glasses – we’ll have an early night. Lady Macbeth: I’ll call the serving woman to clear up. I’ll see you in our chamber. Macbeth: Don’t be too long. These dramatic adaptations really help students to understand the play. Don’t worry if they get your play mixed up with the words of Shakespeare.
  12. 12. HOW MUCH SHOULD STUDENTS KNOW ABOUT ELIZABETHAN LIFE AND CULTURE? Perhaps you could write a journal entry or a short narrative about someone living in Shakespeare’s time and their experience of going to the theatre. Use illustrations from the internet google image search to show what London looked like – what people wore. Use short excerpts from Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth etc. to show what life was like.
  13. 13. HOW MUCH SHOULD STUDENTS KNOW ABOUT ELIZABETHAN LIFE AND CULTURE? You then need to explain that Shakespeare wrote his plays about the past, legends, myths, well-known stories. Yet, many of his plays were still costumed in the clothes of the time. Tell some of the stories to the class – Midsummer Night’s Dream – Macbeth – The Tempest – Julius Caesar
  14. 14. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. Use the sensational parts of Shakespeare to get students interested – the witches in Macbeth – the ghost in Hamlet – the storm in The Tempest, the murders and blood. With Romeo and Juliet students are really interested in Juliet’s age and her preparedness to be put in a tomb with dead bodies.
  15. 15. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. Students really enjoy the witches’ scene in Macbeth. They like acting out the scene of Banquo’s ghost in Macbeth. They enjoy the nurse’s scene with Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Students also enjoy the conflict – swordsmanship – choreography of scenes. Use the skills of the class – dancers/ singers/musicians/artists/ history lovers /film makers/ actors etc.
  16. 16. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INTERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. Get students to use visuals to approach the texts. Comic strips Posters Illustrations for retellings Class room decorations Film making Collages
  17. 17. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INTERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. WRITING Students writing about Shakespeare in the junior school. It is better for them to do modern retellings of the scenes or stories. For example – set Macbeth in a school, or a football team. Set Romeo and Juliet in two rival fashion houses. Students like writing in the forms they are familiar with in their own popular culture.
  18. 18. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INTERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. WRITING Get students to sms message between Romeo and Juliet. Have students write the conversation in a chatroom. Get students on line making a blog for Romeo or Juliet – with pictures.
  19. 19. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INTERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. Get students to take a scene and select the music for the scene, download it and share it with class. Get students to take a scene and put in modern stage directions. Get students to storyboard a scene and how they would film it. Give each group a scene to record with music and sound effects – burn a cd rom of the audio.
  20. 20. HOW TO GET STUDENTS REALLY INTERESTED IN SHAKESPEARE. Students always enjoy a show. Get students to invite other classes to enjoy an Elizabethan feast with some music and a performance of a couple of scenes. Use the talents of different members of class to provide this. Students should be working on invitations, posters, props, music, menus, food. Students can be assessed on their contribution to the event. This kind of thing is a way to get students training in events management.
  21. 21. READING SCENES Instead of reading the whole thing at once set groups of students the task of reading and acting the scene and then giving a plain English translation. Students MUST always know that they are reading and acting a play – they must understand the features of drama. Get students to perform and read scenes with different emphasis. For example the witches could be drunk – Macbeth could be a bit sleazy – hitting on the witches.
  22. 22. MODERN ADAPTATIONS Do read the play a piece at a time. When all readings have been done show the students a traditional version of the play on film. Modern versions which are really effective – Ten things I hate about you/ looking for Richard/ O/ She’s the man/Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet/ Richard 111 with Ian Makellan set in a nazi Britain in the thirties. Don’t forget musicals – Westside Story/ Kiss me Kate You can do joint studies of the plays and the musicals.

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