“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!” Shakespeare for Beginners

by Amberly Plourde

Unit Title:

Confusion now hath made his masterpiece! Shakespeare for Beginners


By: Amberly Plourde


Unit Objective:

Student will demonstrate an understanding of Shakespearean Texts by scanning and performing William Shakespeare’s Crispian Speech and cold reading a Shakespeare scene.


Learning Level:

Junior High Advanced or High School Beginning


Student Prior Experience:

Students have completed basic units in movement, voice, scriptwork, and acting technique. Students have had no prior experience with Shakespeare.



High School Proficient

TH:Pr5.1.I.a. Practice various acting techniques to expand skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

TH:Pr6.1.I.a. Perform a scripted drama/theatre work for a specific audience.

TH:Re8.1.I.a. Analyze and compare artistic choices developed from personal experiences in multiple drama/theatre works.

TH:Re9.1.Ic. Formulate a deeper understanding and appreciation of a drama/ theatre work by considering its specific purpose or intended audience.


Essential Questions:

How can art transcend culture and time?

Why should we investigate old performance techniques?

What human experiences never change? Why?


Enduring Understandings:

Universality of Art

Human Experiences

Decoding & Encoding


Authentic Performance Tasks:

Translate a Shakespearean Scene into Modern Slang

Scan a Sonnet for Iambic Pentameter

Perform Crispian Speech using Inflections and Dramatic Build



Lesson 1: It’s All Shakespeare to Me! Part One

Lesson Objective: Students will become familiar with common Shakespearean language by creating their own Shakespearean dialogue with a partner.


Lesson 2: It’s all Shakespeare to Me: Part Two

Lesson Objective: Students will continue to understand and decode Shakespearean language by translating the original Shakespeare scenes into a modern vernacular.


Lesson 3: Multiple Interpretations

Objective: Students will recognize and demonstrate the ability to analyze and interpret Shakespearean scripts by analyzing several versions of Romeo and Juliet and then creating an original interpretation of their assigned scene.


Lesson 4: Straight Outta Shakespeare or Iambic Pentameter

Objective: Students will be able to grasp basic iambic pentameter by scanning and rapping a Shakespearean sonnet.


Lesson 5: ?! or Inflections

Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of dramatic inflections within Shakespeare by notating inflections on the Crispian Speech.


Lesson 6: For Freedom… Frodo… and Narnia! or Dramatic Build

Objective: Students will demonstrate the use of dramatic build by writing notes on their Crispian Speech and by performing a dramatic build for the class.


Lesson 7: Practice & Preview

Objective: Students will be able to prepare and improve their final performance of the Crispian speech by completing a rehearsal bingo assignment.


Lesson 8: Performance Day

Objective: Student will demonstrate an understanding of Shakespearean text by performing Shakespeare’s Crispian Speech and a Shakespearean Cold Read.


Shakespeare for Beginners Unit of Lessons.Amberly Plourde