Macbeth: What's Up with the Crime Scene?

Author: Alisia Muir, Edmondson-Westside Senior High School, Baltimore, MD

Editor: Greta Brasgalla, Folger National Teacher Corps and Curriculum Specialist at El Dorado High School, El Paso, TX

Common Core Anchor Standards: R.1, R.2, R.3

Text: Macbeth 2.3.46-106

Lesson Overview

Students will be introduced to Macbeth by creating a scene using a script without character names and stage directions. Students will use inference skills to add movement and meaning to the scene. Students use dialogue only to discover the structure and format of the scene and create introductory decisions about the characters in the play.

Time: Two 45-minute class periods


What To Do

Day One 

  1. Hand the students copies of Macbeth 2.3 from which all the stage directions and characters' names have been removed. You'll have to create the document yourself beforehand. Good news; Folger Digital Texts are easy to cut, paste, and manipulate. 
  2. Divide the students into groups of five. Explain that the script needs five characters and no lines may be cut.
  3. Each group has 30 minutes to complete the following:

    a. Who says what and when—who are these people and how are they related?

    b. Who enters and exits.

    c. Practice the script with appropriate action and tone. Each student must keep a copy of all movements, stage directions, tone words for the scene to turn in. Teacher may want to delineate how many movements, tone words, and stage directions need to be present for the completed script.

Day Two 

  1. Allow each group a quick run through of their scene and a few minutes to complete their notations on their script.
  2. Have each group stage its scene for the rest of the class. After all of the groups have performed their scenes, ask the students to discuss any patterns or consistencies they observed in how the characters' lines were assigned and how the scenes were staged.
  3. At the end of class, hand out the text of Macbeth, have the students skim through the pages, read the character list, and ask any questions they might have in preparation for starting Macbeth the next day.


  1. Students will complete their script using a defined number of stage directions and tone words.
  2. Class may also complete an exit ticket after the performance with the following:

    a. Three things I think will happen in the play.

    b. Two things I have questions about.

    c. One thing I enjoyed about today’s lesson.