Alisia Muir, Edmondson Westside Senior High School, Baltimore, Maryland.
Measure for Measure 2.3.19-47
What's On for Today and Why
The students will rehearse and then perform a key exchange from act three, scene two of Measure for Measure in pairs for the class. One student will read Juliet's lines, and the other student will read the Friar's; however, the student assigned the Friar's lines will read them from the point of view of an entirely different character in the play. Each pair of students will have to analyze what they know about both characters and their relationship to come up with a reading or a concept that works for their performance.
This activity will help students to better understand the plot and Juliet's role in the play. They will discover how their knowledge of the characters and the text determines the tone, inflection and staging of a scene.
This lesson will take one 90-minute period or two 45-minute periods to complete.
What You Need
Measure for Measure, the New Folger edition
index cards with the characters' names (enough for all of the pairs)
What To Do
1. Students must understand what is happening up to this point in the play before they read this scene. Discuss the basic plot points with them and clarify any questions they might have the day you assign 2.3 for homework.
2. The next day, do a quick synopsis of the scene. Ask students to name all of the characters they have met thus far in the play. Have a student volunteer write the responses on the board. The list should include: Claudio, Provost, Lucio, Duke (As Himself), Angelo, Escalus, Isabella, Friar Thomas, Juliet, Pompey, Bawd, Nun, Froth, and Elbow. The students should give a brief description of each character including who they are and what they are doing in the play.
3. Ask the students to get into pairs. Place the names of the listed characters in a container. One person from each pair picks a name. The students should keep their picks to themselves. (If your class is large, you may have to repeat characters.)
4. Students should get on their feet and begin rehearsing their lines. As they read, if the student playing Juliet cannot quickly guess who her partner is, the pair needs to stop and think about the characters and relationships and discuss how Juliet and the other character would respond to each other. Be sure to tell students to keep in mind the characters they are portraying, and what they know about those characters at this point in the play.
5. Ask each pair to perform. After each performance, have the rest of the class identify the other character in the scene and comment about both characters' relationship in the scene. Each pair should be able to point to lines from the text to support its interpretation. (The group discussions should only take about one or two minutes per performance.) Wrap up the discussion by asking all the students to write down what they particularly noticed, were bothered by, or found intriguing in each presentation.
6. For homework, ask the students to imagine and to jot down what feelings Juliet may have had about speaking the lines with different characters. After they have completed the pre-writing, the students should pick one character and write a short narrative about Juliet from that character's unique point of view.
How Did It Go?
You may check how well your students did with the exercise based on their performances and the discussion they generated as a result of their scenes.
When grading the writing assignment, look for specific references to the classroom scene work and textual support for the student's ideas.
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.