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False Starts

Teachers' Rating:
  6 ratings

Robert Smirke. Lysander declaring his passion to Helena. Oil on panel with pencil underdrawing and border, ca. 1820-1825

February 2002
Victoria Rondeau teaches at Emerson School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Plays/Scenes Covered
A Midsummer Night's Dream
What's On for Today and Why

Students will be introduced to the basic plot elements and themes of A Midsummer Night's Dream through performance and discussion of three early scenes from the play.


This lesson will take one to two class periods.

What You Need

Handout of scenes from the play

Folger edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

False Starts Handout
What To Do

1. Before giving students access to the text of the whole play, divide them into three groups and give each group one of the scenes provided as a handout. Do not identify the scenes for the students.


2. Give each group 15 minutes to read through their scene and decide how they would like to present it. All students should participate, even if they have to divide up roles.


3. Have the students perform the three scenes for their classmates. After each scene, hold a brief discussion outlining basic information that the students learned from each. What is going on? Is the scene comic? Tragic?


4. When all the scenes have been performed, discuss similarities and differences between them. What common themes do student see in the scenes? Which seems the most important?


5. Have each student write down the order in which s/he believes the scenes appear in the play.


6. Reveal the actual order of the scenes, and have students as a group read the first 20 lines of the play. Discuss how those lines tie in with the scenes that follow. Do the topics identified earlier still apply?


7. (Optional extension) Have students respond to this question in writing: why do you think Shakespeare starts this comedy with a discussion of a wedding, immediately followed by a father demanding an unwanted marriage?

How Did It Go?
Were students able to understand the scenes after reading them? After seeing them performed? Were they able to observe common themes in the three scenes? Could students see that the real opening lines of the play set a somewhat different tone than these three? Can they speculate on how the play would change with a different scene order?

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.

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  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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