Courses

PD COURSE

Friendly Shakespeare

by Todd Espeland

Friendly Shakespeare teaches a simple and effective method of script analysis for Shakespeare. It uses punctuation and keywords in the text to help students understand the characters' needs, make specific acting choices, and get them on their feet immediately.

This is not dry, sitting in a classroom discussion. It’s physicalizing the text, focusing on the character’s needs and tactics (something every drama student should know full well) and bringing Shakespeare to life.

At the end of the class you will be able to demystify Shakespeare's text and understand how to help your actors make clear, active and emotionally connected choices in Shakespeare's plays.

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PD COURSE

Shakespeare's Toolkit

by Todd Espeland

Todd Espeland has the experience to know that having more tools in your toolbox makes you a better actor. This is especially important when teaching students how to approach Shakespeare. They need help breaking through the language barrier and into the character’s needs and into the character’s thoughts.

The tools that you’ll receive in this course will do just that. The course looks at scansion as a tool for breaking down Shakespeare’s verse, the importance of end of lines, and caesura. Caesura is an inner-line pause which is a lot of fun to play with and really, helps us provide insight to the character’s thoughts and into their needs.

The course provides numerous examples and handouts, and culminates in a performance assignment to use with your students.

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PD COURSE

Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom

by Julie Hartley

Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have: scenes packed with action; opportunities to explore comedy and physical theatre; rich themes and characters to act as springboards for devised theatre; the chance to work with our language at its finest and – most importantly – ideas that relate directly to the experiences and preoccupations of students.

Yet Shakespeare isn’t easy. The language can seem dense, and finding a way in can be tough – especially for drama teachers who have not themselves studied Shakespeare. That’s the goal of this course – to help teachers find a way in.

This course presents teachers with as many ways in to the exploration of Shakespeare as possible. Action scenes, themes, characters, different theatre styles, and devised theatre projects. Students will be armed with the tools they need to begin individually exploring monologues, or working together on scenes.

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Units

UNIT

Shakespeare Performance

by Anna Porter

In this unit by Anna Porter, students are introduced to the works of Shakespeare and explore how to bring a character to life in a monologue performance. Students are also introduced to the tools to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. Through this eleven lesson series, students will participate in class discussions, activities and performance. Assessment tools include informal assessment, submission of textual analysis work and a final performance.

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UNIT

Unlocking Shakespeare's Text

by Anna Porter

Shakespeare’s text holds valuable tools that students can use to unlock and understand meaning. In this unit by Anna Porter, students explore how to use the tools of research, context, textual analysis, imagery and punctuation to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. This unit is created for an Intermediate to Advanced drama class with a basic background in plot structure and acting technique.

Through this five lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions, activities and performance to explore the tools used to unlock a text. Assessment tools include informal assessment as well as a final group presentation and performance.

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UNIT

Performing Shakespeare

by Matt Webster

In this unit, students are introduced to a series of lesson plans that explore non-traditional approaches to performing the works of William Shakespeare. By the end of the unit students will be exposed to a unique set of tools they can utilize as the foundations for analyzing, staging and performing a scene from Shakespeare’s canon. Students will then rehearse and perform a two-person Shakespearean scene.

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Lesson Plans

LESSON PLAN

Shakespeare: Finding Emotion and Action in Text

by Anna Porter

Students will understand how to uncover the directorial clues that Shakespeare left in his work by doing a textual analysis.

They will explore Emotional Outbursts, Action words, and Emotion words through a structured color coding analysis of a Shakespeare monologue.

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LESSON PLAN

Character Development in the Shakespearean Monologue

by Lindsay Price

To demonstrate how modern character development exercises apply to Shakespearean characters.

Students apply exercises to a character from Shakespeare by examining at the character’s foreground and background, answering character questions, and creating the character’s physicality. This will demystify the process of preparing a Shakespearean monologue and give students the tools they need to prepare a monologue on their own.

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LESSON PLAN

Shakespearean Language: Match the Quotes

by Lindsay Price

Students will identify unfamiliar words on a page of Shakespeare quotes, translate those quotes into modern English, and act out the quotes to identify character/play clues. Students will then complete a quotes assignment and reflection. Plus! Bonus assignment.

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LESSON PLAN

Acting Shakespeare Style

by Lindsay Price

Students will perform a modern scene the same way that Shakespearean actors performed text. They will compare and contrast the experience to preparing a scene for class.

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LESSON PLAN

Jabberwocky

by Karen Loftus

Beware the the Jabberwock! Not really, it’s actually a wonderful poem to use with students to get them to use their imaginations, rely on context clues, and explore word sounds and basic imagery. In this exercise, students will analyze a stanza from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll in order to create a performance based on that analysis. This exercise is a great springboard into approaching Shakespeare.

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LESSON PLAN

Shakespeare Tableaux

by Karen Loftus

Sometimes it’s less intimidating for students to approach Shakespeare’s language with a goal in mind. In this exercise students are given a line from a Shakespeare play out of context and asked to create a scene using three tableaux that tell a story. By approaching the language with an active goal in mind, students delve deeper into the language’s meaning and take control of the story.

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LESSON PLAN

Emergency Lesson Plan: Fallen Phrase Puzzle - Shakepeare Quotes

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students complete a Fallen Phrase Puzzle using Shakespeare quotes.

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LESSON PLAN

Shakespeare Setting and Soundscape

by Lisa Houston

In Elizabethan times, audiences at the Globe had to use their powers of imagination and listening to envision the worlds of Shakespeare’s plays. Today, modern audiences are treated to elaborate depictions of Shakespeare’s settings with expensive sets, lighting, projections, and sound. This lesson will test your students’ creative collaboration. They will design a set and soundscape in obstacle course form for one of Shakespeare’s plays using found objects, sounds, and actions.

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LESSON PLAN

Emergency Lesson Plan: Compare and Contrast (Shakespeare)

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students will read and discuss a scene from the Shakespeare Play Much Ado About Nothing and a modern adaptation of that text - Much Ado High School by Lindsay Price.

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LESSON PLAN

Shakepeare's Words: Iambic Pentameter

by Kerry Hishon

The objective of the lesson is for students to learn what iambic pentameter is and to have the opportunity to create their own monologues using iambic pentameter. This lesson is a useful complement towards studying classical works by playwrights such as William Shakespeare.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to Shakespeare

by Anna Porter

Students will take a pre-quiz on some of Shakespeare’s plays, then find 5 things they did not already know about Shakespeare during a group discussion and presentation. This lesson includes a presentation for students to introduce Shakespeare and his time period.

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LESSON PLAN

Selecting Material

by Anna Porter

Students will select a monologue to use in this performance unit during the class period. They will also work in groups to create an entertaining and educational performance based off of a plot summary for one of Shakespeare’s plays.

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LESSON PLAN

Approaching the Text

by Anna Porter

As a class, students will explore context, the meaning of words, and imagery used to unlock meaning in a Shakespearean text. Students will use these tools to create a modern translation for their own text. Students are also introduced to resources and will become familiar with their story through doing the Actor’s Homework.

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LESSON PLAN

Paint with Words: Imagery and Insults

by Anna Porter

Students will use insults and compliments to explore sound and imagery in Shakespeare’s texts. Students will also participate in a choral reading, then create a short scenario where they must use their voice and body to bring Shakespeare’s imagery to life to achieve a specific emotional response.

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LESSON PLAN

Finding Emotion and Action in the Text

by Anna Porter

Students will explore emotional outbursts, action words, and emotion words by doing a structured activity and textual analysis.

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LESSON PLAN

Punctuation

by Anna Porter

Students will dissect, analyze, and color code punctuation examples. Students will use physical movement that is tied to specific punctuation to help them explore how it can communicate meaning in the text. Students will then apply this and analyze their monologue by examining the punctuation.

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LESSON PLAN

Preparing a Character for Performance Part One - Tools, Objectives, Tactics

by Anna Porter

Students use their Actor’s Homework Sheet to create a personal word list to explore their character. They will also identify how they will use voice and body to bring their character to life. Finally, students review character objective and tactics in order to create an objective statement with three active tactics they will use with their monologue.

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LESSON PLAN

Preparing a Character for Performance Part Two - Laban's Efforts

by Anna Porter

Students explore and play with Laban’s Efforts, then select efforts to use in their monologue.

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LESSON PLAN

Approaching the Text

by Anna Porter

As a class, students will explore the tools of context, meaning of words, and imagery to unlock meaning in a Shakespearean text. Students will then use these tools to create a modern translation for their text. Students will also be introduced to resources and begin work on a monologue that they will continue to use throughout the unit.

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LESSON PLAN

Imagery and Insults

by Anna Porter

Students will use insults and compliments to explore sound and imagery created in Shakespeare’s texts. Students will also practice this form, then create a short scenario where they must use their voice and body to bring Shakespeare’s imagery to life to achieve a specific emotional response.

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LESSON PLAN

Finding Emotion and Action in Text

by Anna Porter

Students will explore Outbursts, Action Words, and Emotion Words through structured activity and textual analysis.

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LESSON PLAN

Punctuation

by Anna Porter

Students will learn the clues and meaning behind the punctuation that Shakespeare used. Students will also dissect, analyze, and color code examples. They will also use physical movement tied to specific punctuation to help them explore how it can communicate meaning in the text. Students will then apply this and analyze their performance script by examining their punctuation.

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LESSON PLAN

Performance

by Anna Porter

Students will demonstrate their understanding of textual analysis, painting with words and imagery, and physicalizing punctuation by preparing and performing a staged reading of a Shakespearean monologue in a group presentation.

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LESSON PLAN

Performing a Monologue with Focus and Stage Pictures

by Anna Porter

Students will review how to use stage pictures that communicate character, story, and emotion to help them create appropriate blocking for their performance. Students will create an appropriate focus for their character to look at while performing their monologue.

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LESSON PLAN

Memorization Quiz and Preview

by Anna Porter

Students will take a memorization quiz and perform for their peers. Students will also critique each other based on what they have worked on during this unit.

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LESSON PLAN

Performance

by Anna Porter

Students will demonstrate their understanding of textual analysis, painting with words and imagery, creating a character, and preparing a monologue by performing a Shakespearean monologue and reflecting on their experience.

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LESSON PLAN

Shakespeare: Finding Emotion and Action in Text

by Anna Porter

Students will analyze a Much Ado About Nothing monologue to identify clues about emotion and action. Students can then use the Shakespeare tools to analyze and present assigned Shakespeare monologues.

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LESSON PLAN

Shakespeare: Tableaux

by Karen Loftus

Students will create stage pictures in tableaux as a way to interpret the stories of Shakespeare. By putting their analysis into action, students will lay the foundation for simple blocking of their Shakespearean scenes.

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LESSON PLAN

Acting Shakespeare Style

by Lindsay Price

Students will explore the historically accurate way that scripts were distributed, rehearsed, and performed in Elizabethan times. Students will then perform a short script in this style of “rolls” and “sides.”

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LESSON PLAN

Shakespeare Setting and Soundscape

by Lisa Houston

Students will use found and common objects to create an obstacle course setting for a Shakespearean play based on sounds.

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LESSON PLAN

Culminating Project: Performing Shakepearean Scenes

by Matt Webster

Students will perform two-person Shakespeare scenes using the concepts introduced over the course of the unit, to enhance the performance and staging of the scenes.

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LESSON PLAN

Compare and Contrast: "To Be or Not To Be" on Film

by Lindsay Price

In this lesson plan, students will compare four different film versions of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark using the same scene: Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech. How do the four versions tackle the same text? Film is a visual medium – what visuals do they use to tell the story? Do they cut or adapt any of the text? Students will discuss their findings and write a Reflection.

A slide deck is provided as part of the materials for this lesson.

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LESSON PLAN

Close Reading: Shakespeare

by Lindsay Price

Close reading is a text-dependent analysis tool that allows students to read a text for in-depth comprehension. Students focus on the text to understand what’s being said, how it’s being said, and why. This tool can be an excellent method for getting students to connect to Shakespeare. Where students take a left turn with understanding Shakespeare is that they can’t see past the language. They can’t see using the same tools analyzing a Shakespeare play as they would a modern play. So use close reading to break the language down, move past it, and treat Shakespeare like a modern
text.

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Resources

RESOURCE

Character Development: Shakespeare

It's easy to ignore character development in a Shakespeare monologue. There's so many other things to think about! But it's doubly important to pay attention to your character – the character is what makes your monologue come to life. Learn how to make Shakespeare character come to life.

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RESOURCE

A Midsummer Night's Dream Character Warm-up

Use this exercise in the early days of rehearsal or even as part of your audition process. It allows students to get into the physical side of a character without having to worry about hitting the “thees” and “thous.” This works well with any Shakespeare play.

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RESOURCE

Drama Teacher Tune-Up 2

Our second Drama Teacher Tune Up!

We look at including mask work in the classroom, Shakespeare, Close Reading, and Classroom Management..

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RESOURCE

Acting in Shakespeare and Classical Plays

This one page handout is a great guide for students to keep in mind when performing the Bard and other classical works.

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RESOURCE

Shakespeare Insults Exercise

If you want students to get comfortable with Shakespeare’s language, use insults. The objective of this exercise is to get students to use their voice and body as they practice words outside their natural normal vocabulary. To understand the statement: “Words do not mean what they mean, words mean what you intend them to mean.”

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RESOURCE

Shakespeare Exercise: Physicalizing the Punctuation

Use this exercise with the Shakespeare you are studying (or the included monologue) to answer the question: how can punctuation give clues an actor can use to help act the scene?

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RESOURCE

Shakespeare Exercise: Tomb Scene

This exercise encourages students to examine the language of a scene for clues on character action. Shakespeare often tells actors exactly what to “do.”

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RESOURCE

One Question and Rubric: Shakespeare

The format is simple. One question, one answer, and a rubric all on the same sheet. Use these answers as exit slips, as a follow up written assignment after a class discussion, or as a mid-unit check in. Covers Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, The Tempest, Othello, Macbeth, and The Taming of the Shrew.

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RESOURCE

Romeo and Juliet: Tic Tac Toe

Complete three of nine projects on Romeo and Juliet to make a tic-tac-toe! Includes a rubric for assessment.

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RESOURCE

A Midsummer Night's Dream Tic Tac Toe

Complete three of nine projects on A Midsummer Night's Dream to make a tic-tac-toe! Includes a rubric for assessment.

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RESOURCE

Compare and Contrast (Shakepeare)

In this Compare and Contrast Exercise students will read a scene in its original form, read an modern adaptation, and then compare and contrast the two. What are the similarities and differences?

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RESOURCE

Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom eBook

Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have. But teaching it can be a challenge. Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom by Julie Hartley, helps drama teachers break down the Bard to make his themes, language and characters accessible to all.

This resource can help teachers overcome the potential challenge of making Shakespeare relatable through practical and engaging methods designed specifically for the classroom. This informative e-book contains in-depth analysis strategies, conversation topics, character studies and more.

Help your students make sense of Shakespeare!

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RESOURCE

Shakespeare It Up

Distance Learning ideas vs Zoom or other video conference platform.

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