Annmarie Kelly Harbaugh, West Ashley High School, Charleston, South Carolina.
The Winter's Tale, Act 3
What's On for Today and Why
In this lesson, students will reduce Act 3 into lines, images and songs which will help them navigate the many moods of The Winter's Tale in this lynchpin act. The lesson culminates in a performance for the class. It works best after students have read the act and spent some time discussing it.
This lesson takes two class periods.
What You Need
New Folger edition of The Winter's Tale
Audio equipment as needed
What To Do
1. Divide students into groups of 3–4.
2. Ask each group to select one line from 3.1 that they feel is representative of the essence of the entire scene.
3. Next, ask each group to strike a pose (the Shakespeare Set Free series calls these "tableaux") that best depicts the characters in 3.1.
4. Finally, ask each group to think of a 5-10 second snippet of a song that would best mirror or enhance the mood of the scene. Encourage students to think about genres of music outside of pop or rap, though these could certainly be used if appropriate.
5. Have students write down their choices, along with a 2-3 sentence rationale for their choice. For example: "We chose Enya music because it is so sad, and yet prayerful. Cleomenes and Dion are weary from their journey, but hoping that Hermione will be saved by the gods."
6. Have students repeat steps 2 through 5 for 3.2 and 3.3.
7. For homework, ask groups to bring their music to class the next day. They might burn a CD, bring in CDs or cued cassettes, or just hum or sing the song, as appropriate.
8. The next day, give each group a few minutes to check their music and review their lines and poses. Students without music will need to sing or hum their accompaniments.
9. Have each group perform their three scenes for the class: reading the lines, striking their poses, and holding them for the 5–10 seconds of the music.
10. When all the groups have performed, discuss the choices the groups made. Encourage students to talk about how the poses, lines or music impacted their understanding of the scenes, not simply which music they enjoyed.
How Did It Go?
Were students arguing whether Britney Spears or Madonna would provide a good backdrop for Paulina? Did one or two students stand up for the Bard to say; "N-Sync just doesn't fit Bohemia. Bohemia is way more heavy metal. I mean, c'mon, bears eat people there." Were students excited by the idea of puzzling through scenes using music? Did they use the text to justify their choices?
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.