Dr. Virginia Palmer-Fuechsel teaches music, German and English at the New School of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, Virginia.
This lesson can be used as a pre-reading activity for any of Shakespeare's plays. Dialogues featured are from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet and Henry IV Pt. 1.
What’s On for Today and Why
We often carry on dialogues with each other while doing unrelated things. So why "do" Shakespeare by just standing and talking. This lesson encourages students to more natural speech, movement, and staging through reading Shakespeare dialogues out loud while performing familiar activities.
This lesson should take one 45 minute class period.
What To Do
1. Pair off the students, and then have each pair draw an everyday activity out of a hat or small container.
2. Let the students practice pantomiming (silently acting out) the activity briefly. Then direct them to take turns pantomiming the activity for the class until the other students can guess the activity. Remind the performers that this is a silent activity - no noise clues! Before students start raising their hands or blurting out answers, the presenters should have at least one silent minute to establish the activity.
3. Hand out the dialogue excerpts to the student pairs. Give each pair a few minutes to read the text out loud together. When they're ready, give each pair a turn in front of the class.
4. After the initial readings are over, tell each pair to take the random activity that they did before, and practice doing it at the same time they work through their dialogues. Again, give them several minutes to process the combination of activity and text.
5. Allow each pair to perform a reading of their dialogue while doing the activity. The volume should match the activity. It's OK if it breaks down a bit at times. The point is to keep them talking and moving!
1. If you are working on a specific play, pair students up by passing out slips of paper with a split line from the play. Have students find their partner by finding the other person with the other half of their line.
2. If you are working on a specific play, assign dialogues from the play, and work with these passages for the steps with text. At the end ask them to look at the passage they chose again. What action clues are embedded within the text? What activity might be more appropriate for the passage? Ask them to be the directors for their mini-scene and work out the blocking as homework for your next session.
What You Need
Sample Dialogue Excerpts
Move It Shakespeare Activities
Move It Shakespeare Excerpts
How Did It Go?
At the end, take some time for feedback and discussion. What worked? What didn't? How did the activities change the way they talked? Was it fun? What kind of blocking (staging) ideas could come out of this exercise?
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.