Classroom Exercise

Shakespearean Insults

Shakespearean Insults
Written by Lindsay Price

You hate teaching Shakespeare. It happens. You’re just not one of those people who are beholden to the bard. But he’s in your face. He’s in your classroom. And the only way you’re going to make it through another lesson on Shakespeare is to make it fun.

I know it sounds impossible. Shakespeare and fun do not mix.
But it’s totally possible. First off, Shakespeare was never meant to be read or studied. Shakespearean actors didn’t read and study their lines. They got up and they did them. They performed. They acted. They moved. They breathed life into larger-than-life characters.

That’s what you have to do too. Get up, get performing, get moving.

Click here to download a Shakespeare Insults Handout. Get your students in pairs. They are going to create a short scene, something like this:

A: Hey!

B: Hello there.

A: Let me by, I have to cross this bridge.

B: You can’t.

A: Why not?

B: Because.

A: Cause why?

B: Cause there’s a bear on the other

A: Why didn’t you say so?

Next they’re going to take the Shakespeare Insults Handout and hand-pick their very own insults for their lines. Let them try a few out, get in a circle and have everyone “insult” each other. Only in Shakespearean language of course.

Lastly the pairs rehearse and present their scene complete with Shakespearean Insults a plenty. Hint! Before they start each insult they have to throw in the word thou. Thou means you. Simple as that. So the scene might look like this:

A: Hey thou gorbellied, motley-minded hugger-mugger!

B: Hello there thou yeasty clapper-clawed strumpet!

A: Let me by, thou frothy dizzy-eyed maggot pie! I have to cross this bridge.

B: You can’t.

A: Why not?

B: Because thou surly guts gripping harpy!

A: Cause why thou, dankish sheep biting pignut?

B: Cause there’s a bear on the other side thou spleeny fly-bitten varlet!

A: Why didn’t you say so thou mewling swagbellied footlicker?

It’s silly, it’s fun and yes, it’s Shakespeare.

Click here to download the Shakespearean Insults handout! Want to find out more about our newest plays, resources and giveaways?
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About the author

Lindsay Price