William Powell Frith. Olivia Unveiling. Oil on canvas, 1874.
Kurt Broderson teaches 7th and 8th grade language arts at Mt. Abraham Union High School in Bristol, Vermont.
What's On for Today and Why
This lesson uses a game with a strong popular culture reference to introduce students to the characters in Twelfth Night. As students role play various characters, they see how various alliances form, especially along status lines. The activity also introduces them to the elements of inclusion and exclusion at work in this play.
This lesson will take one class period.
What You Need
Folger edition of Twelfth Night
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
2 copies of the handout below, cut into strips so that each character
description is on a separate piece of paper
"Hello, My Name is ____" stickers
What To Do
1. First, explain that you'll be playing a game much like "Survivor," the television show. Some students may have trouble with the cutthroat nature of "Survivor," so remind them that in this game they'll be playing characters, not themselves. Stay on top of this issue to make sure feelings aren't hurt.
2. Divide the class into groups of 12–15 students. There are 12 large roles in this play, 3 small roles (Valentine, Curio, Priest), and extras (officers, sailors, lords) that can be added into the mix to round out the numbers. Assign roles by handing out a different character description (see handout below) to each student in the group. (There's no rhyme or reason to gender roles, so tell them not to worry about who they're playing.) Have students make name tags for themselves with the name of their character, and remind them not to share any of the information on their slip with anyone else.
3. Give the students 10 minutes to start building alliances by interacting with other characters. Emphasize that they need to stay in character throughout the game and not reveal any secret information. Some characters have a natural connection to each other, so tell the students to keep an eye out for their potential partners.
4. At the end of the first 10 minutes, vote someone off Illyria. Have students sit down and, on a piece of paper, name the character they want to see evicted and explain why that character needs to go. Again, remind the students to stay in character. Evicted characters can then serve as audience members for the next round, biding their time until they get a chance for revenge.
5. Play as many rounds as you desire, or vote more than one character off each round to speed things up. You don't need to end with one survivor, although it might be interesting to see who remains standing. If you do take this all the way to the bitter end, remember that the last round requires the cast of castaways to vote off one of the two remaining survivors. There can be only one. (Or, revenge is a dish best served cold!)
6. At the end of the game, ask each student to share with the class which character his or her character chose to have evicted and why the character would make such a choice. As a class, discuss what alliances they detect among the characters and how status affects these groupings.
7. Assign the following for homework: Write a journal entry about today's game. With which characters did you connect, and why? With whom did you not connect? Why? Describe how you made alliances with other characters. If you were voted off, how did it feel? From what you saw today, who do you predict will be together at the end of Twelfth Night? Explain.
How Did It Go?
Did the students stay in character? Did they try to make alliances based on the information given? Did they detect status relationships? Did their journal entries show an understanding of the complex relationships between the characters?
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.
Common Core State Standards
There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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