He Said, She said.
Why do you think Viola chooses to disguise herself as a man while she searches for her brother?
Find some of Viola’s lines in the play to support your decision. How does her disguise make life more possible? More challenging? What was life like for women in Shakespeare’s time? What roles did they play in Elizabethan society? Have students do research into the customs of Elizabethan England in relation to women. Ask students to find a way to creatively express what a day in the life of an Elizabethan woman would have been like. How did a woman’s class status influence her daily life? Were there any similarities shared by all Elizabethan women? Research the status of women in the world today. What countries continue to have policies and/or laws that are restrictive to women in the modern era?
What’s Your Status?
Status, or a person’s social standing, plays a major role between characters in Twelfth Night.
Explore how status affects various relationships. Divide into groups of two. Pairs should then choose a relationship where one person has power over the other(some examples below). Each group improvises a situation that might take place between the characters they have chosen, making sure to provide clues as to who has high and low status. Clues might include eye contact, tone of voice, posture, high/low placement, or specific actions. Once groups have rehearsed, pairs perform for each other, and the rest of the class guesses what the status of each character is based on the improvisation.
teacher/student; police officer/criminal; parent/child; king/peasant
Up On Your Feet.
In Scene 2.5 where Malvolio “discovers” the letter from his mistress Olivia, there are many action clues in the text to inform how this scene might be staged. Read through the scene with the class and have students underline action words and stage directions within the text. Break students into groups to work on staging their own version of the scene. Have the students present for each other and discuss the difference in interpretations.
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In 2.4 while ruminating on the trappings of love, Orsino asks for music to be played to set the mood of his lovesick musings. In addition to the theme of love, music is also central to this play. Read 2.4 as a class, assigning students to the roles. As they read, have students underline the word “love” and all words related to love.
Write down these words and have students compose lyrics to a song that could underscore this scene. Read through the scene again, allowing the rest of the class to become the chorus interjecting the song where it works best.
How did it go? How does the music add to or change the mood? How many times
is the word love used or words with related images used?