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Screwing Courage in Macbeth

Teachers' Rating:
  2 ratings

E.H. Sothern as Macbeth. Photograph, early 20th century

November 2006
Daniel Rock, Design and Architecture Senior High, Miami, Florida.

Plays/Scenes Covered
Macbeth 1.7.29-79
What's On for Today and Why


This lesson is designed to engage students with the text and examine the motivations behind the behavior of characters as they seek to accomplish their goals. The lesson begins with some basic acting exercises designed to figure out what characters are doing and saying to achieve their goals. This is followed by a series of performances of the scene using different character choices.

What You Need

Folger edition of Macbeth 1.7.29-79
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

What To Do

1. Have the class discuss motivation, tactics and obstacles by citing the techniques used by movie super-heroes to achieve their goals and how they deal with obstacles that stand in their way. For an understanding of the definition of these terms as they apply to acting, click here.


2. Request two volunteers. Student A sits on a chair, Student B stands but really wants the chair. Student A has promised to save the chair for his friend until he/she returns. Establish this situation and then have students improvise ways to achieve their respective goals.


3. Have the rest of the class comment on the obstacles presented by the situation and suggest tactics for achieving the goals of Student A and B. Repeat the improvisation, incorporating some of these suggestions.


4. Follow up with additional improvised scenes with situations suggested by the class. An example might be: boyfriend is backup quarterback who has been passed up for starter by lesser skilled player. Girlfriend wants boyfriend to do something to take starter out of next major game. Boyfriend is not sure what to do.


5. Again discuss the tactics the students used to achieve their specific goals.


6. Have students act out 1.7.29-79 of Macbeth. Encourage them to play the scene using tactics used in the improvised scenes.


7. Repeat the exercise with new readers, trying out different tactics to achieve same goal.


8. Conclude with a discussion. Which tactics were most effective in this scene, and why? What have students learned about the two characters?

How Did It Go?
Were the students able to apply their knowledge of motivation, tactics, and obstacles to the performance of a scene? Were the students able to interpret the text at a higher level through the use of knowledge they acquired through the improvisations and discussions?

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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