Playing with Shakespeare’s Plays


Students will demonstrate their understanding of the genres of Shakespeare’s plays by exploring play titles at genre stations and creating a list of play titles that they want to explore further.



Canon Genre Stations – short summaries of plays  Canon List & sentence summary.Lesson 1

Performing Shakespeare Quotes.Lesson 1



HOOK:  Fake Shakespeare lines activity

Make up the three most “Shakespearean” line that you can.  Make them different – an insult, a love statement, a description.  Make them complex and clear, but love the flowery language.


Say them out loud.  Do they sound Shakespearean?  Change them if you need to.


Read some.  Have class respond.


Get into groups of four.  Find a structure to them.  Deliver them in such a way as to make it clear to the audience what your story and structure are.


Have each group perform their pieces.


Success of Shakespeare is based on you as the performer.  Even if the audience cannot make sense of the text, you will help them.  As you look for a piece, try to find one that you can communicate to the audience.  This is why we start the year with Shakespeare.  You can’t get lazy and let the script do all of the work for you.

Who is your character?

What do they want?

What do they do to get what they want?

How will you show that to us?


Discussion: How did you find context?  How did you create meaning out of these lines?


Daunting Bard

“If you’ve got any sort of inkling towards acting, he’s one of the best playwrights ever, if not the best. If you can tackle the text and understand it, it’s a great experience.” – James Redmond


Post the various quotes either projected or scattered about the room or having one student come up to the front and hold and read a quote at a time.  Have students respond either in a discussion or in writing which quote speaks to them about performing Shakespeare and classical text.


What are you most concerned about?  What fears do you have about performing Shakespeare?  What is holding you back from a full commitment to his language?


YouTube clip of Shakespeare speech from Richard III (Clarence)

Discussion: What did he do as a performer?  Is there any overlap between the Fake Shakespeare activity and this performance?  It starts with his voice, but he changes his body (facial expression, posture, gesture) to go along with his voice.  It is rooted in voice.  Suggest that students let voice take the lead.


What do you want to accomplish with this Shakespeare assignment? How can you push and challenge yourselves to a higher level of performance and skills?  What are some class goals to work toward?


Explain the Canon Genre Stations – students should move to each of the three stations and read through the summaries of the plays listed there.  They should then jot down 6-8 titles that they want to explore next class period further.



Students can be assessed with the Fake Shakespeare exercise or the Genre Stations title list.