Conduct a relaxation session with the students. Have them lie down on their backs and begin the soothing music. Guide them verbally through relaxing breathing, releasing tension in their bodies and clearing their mind. After the relaxation period, guide the students through a visualization (staying on the floor with their eyes closed and seeing the day happen in their imagination) of a day in their Shakespeare character’s life. They will supply the activities and moods of the character throughout the day as you prompt them to do daily routines (waking up, getting ready, eating breakfast, going to work, staying at home, and so forth throughout the day). Tell them that at some point during the day their character must “run into” the character(s) they are playing opposite of in their scene or monologue. It can be during an errand to the grocery store where they meet up in the produce section, it can be a date-night, it can be a business meeting, etc. This meeting must take place at some point during this day.
Once the day is complete visually, have the students mentally return to the meeting of the characters in the day. Now allow them to hear the exchange between the characters in their imagination as well as see it. Focus their attention to the tiny, fine details of the relationship and exchange (what is the body language like, how do the characters react to each other, what happens vocally in the meeting, what is being discussed, etc.?). Make sure that the students spend some time on their own mentally painting this picture and discovering new bits to their relationship and feelings toward the other character.
Transition – Have the class sit in a circle. Ask a few students to share the experience of their character that day. Have them share with the class what their character’s meeting was like and how they felt about it.
Modeling – Talk with the students about how important it is to create a character that has a previous life to the monologue or scene with prior relationships and feelings. If possible, share a moment in your own life where you had an exchange with someone that you had a previous relationship with that made that exchange more tense or happy because of what you had previously gone through with that person.
Instruction – Pass out the Secondary Source Outline sheet. Explain that along with the Cliff Notes and play analysis and character analysis, the students are to go one step further and find out something new about the play, the character they are playing, their relationship with the other person/people in the performance piece, or the situation their character is in. They will do this by finding another source for this information: on the internet, a video performance, an article or play review, or other resources such as Shakespeare A-Z, Who’s Who in Shakespeare, etc. After reading/viewing this new insight they will fill out the Secondary Source Outline sheet and later turn it in.
Checking for Understanding – Before giving the students time to rehearse and/or search out a secondary source, have the students respond to the following three questions in regard to their own preview performances: • What was the strongest moment/thing about your preview? • What was the weakest moment/thing about your preview? • What specific steps are you going to take before your final performances to overcome your weakest thing? Explain that not only do you want them to see your notes and suggestions, but you want them to critically analyze their own work, see a weakness, make a goal (or objective) and then work to reach that goal before their final performances.
Individual Practice – Pass back the Preview Evaluations and give the students time to work on their monologues or scenes.
Students can be assessed by their participation in the relaxation and visualization activities and their written response to their preview.