Students analyze one of Shakespeare’s protagonists/antagonists and present a monologue or video to demonstrate a personal interpretation of character motivation and experience.
- Length: 4 or more class periods
- Grades: 8-12
- Students analyze scripts or text to discover characters’ motivations.
- Students analyze how actors employ performance elements to develop characters and achieve a desired response.
- Students apply the elements of performance to their own characters.
Shakespeare: Scene from Hamlet
Found On: Performance Excerpts
Shakespeare: Scene from Much Ado About Nothing
Found On: Performance Excerpts
Vocabulary and Materials
acting style, antagonist, articulation, artistic choices, character, characterization, complication, conflict, critique, diction, discovery, drama, dramatic media, electronic media, elements of performance, empathy, expression, mannerism, monologue, motivation, projection, protagonist, soliloquy, tension, vocal expression, voice
TV/VCR or DVD player, various Shakespeare plays, camcorders, tripods, videotape
Instructional Strategies and Activities
This lesson is designed to be used in a Shakespeare unit or once students have become familiar with various Shakespeare plays and characters. Clearly state that the objective of this lesson is to understand how charactersspecifically Hamlet and Benedickare portrayed and analyzed by dramatic artists and audiences based on human experience, condition, desire, and motivation.
Discuss: Why is it important for actors to gain empathy from the audience? Why must the audience be able to identify with the characters?
Discuss empathy, motivation, and conflict.
Prepare students by asking them to reflect on a time when they had to make a tough decision that would greatly influence their lives and possibly change their relationship with a family member or friend. How did they feel physically? Mentally? If time permits, ask students to write about the experience and their feelings.
Before you show the two Shakespeare scenes, review the vocabulary list. Ask students to look for how the actors use the elements of performance in their characterizations of Hamlet and Benedick. You may want to show the scenes twice (or even three times)once to give students an overall sense of the content and flavor of the performances and again to give them an opportunity to hone in on what the performers actually do. Encourage them to take notes and list specific examples of how each performer uses the elements of performance.
Now show the two Shakespeare scenes and discuss the elements of performance in the characterizations of Hamlet and Benedick. You may choose to do this as a class or in small groups that report back to the whole class. You may also want to share with students what the actors who portrayed Hamlet and Benedick say they did to prepare for their roles (see Resources).
Ask students: Can you identify with the characters? What outcome do you wish for these characters?
Days 2 and 3
Ask each student to select a protagonist or antagonist from any one of Shakespeares plays and do one of these two activities (or you may choose the activity for the class):
- Select a significant monologue from that character to perform for the class, either by ad lib, improvisation, or memorization, to convey the conflict and motivation of the character, keeping in mind the desired response from the audience.
- Create a short (three-minute) video demonstrating how the world might be perceived through the selected characters eyes. It should be a point-of-view segment. Students may work in groups, but the groups should be small enough for all members to benefit. This may require a preparatory lesson on the use of multimedia teaching shot composition and framing in video production. See Resources for help.
Students should perform and/or show their productions in class. Ask the class to analyze and critique the performances/products by answering the following questions:
- How effective was the character portrayal? The elements of performance? The character motivation?
- Was the desired effect achieved?
- What did you learn about the character?
- Did you discover anything new about the character from the portrayal?
- What would you change about the performance or product? Why?
Extensions for Diverse Learners
- Attend a live Shakespeare performance.
- Invite a dramatic artist into the classroom to perform or discuss with students elements of performance and how an actor gets into character.
- Translate a scene from a Shakespearean play into modern language and organize a performance of it.
Writing To Communicate
- Personal-Expressive: Write an essay based on human experience and condition using a theme from either Hamlet or Much Ado About Nothing.
- Personal-Expressive: Write a personal narrative about a tough decision that could greatly influence your life and possibly change your relationship with a family member or friend. Describe the experience and your feelings.
- Literary: Write a monologue for a character you have created who is dealing with inner conflict in a very demanding situation.
Open Response Assessment
You have auditioned and are selected to play Hamlet in the school play.
- Describe steps you need to take to successfully get into the character of Hamlet and employ the elements of performance.
- Explain why it is crucial to research a character in order to effectively portray that character on stage.
Open Response Scoring Guide
|Student exhibits extensive understanding of the concepts and vocabulary of the elements of drama and performance. Student consistently and effectively communicates this knowledge and understanding with the use of insightful supporting examples or details.||Student exhibits broad understanding of the concepts and vocabulary of the elements of drama and performance. Student effectively communicates this knowledge and understanding with the use of supporting examples or details.||Student exhibits basic understanding of the concepts and vocabulary of the elements of drama and performance. Student somewhat effectively communicates this knowledge and understanding with the use of some supporting examples or details.||Student exhibits minimal understanding of the concepts and vocabulary of the elements of drama and performance. Student ineffectively communicates this limited knowledge and understanding, using no supporting examples or details.||Student offers blank or irrelevant response.|
Students will perform their monologues or present their videos to the class.
See Day 3 of Instructional Strategies and Activities.
Performance Scoring Guide
|Student completes assignment effectively by exhibiting extensive understanding of elements of performance, using proper vocabulary when necessary. Student demonstrates extensive critical thinking skills and creativity through his/her performance or product. Student thoroughly completes assignment and effectively portrays the character, gaining the desired response from the audience.||Student completes assignment effectively by exhibiting broad understanding of the elements of performance, using proper vocabulary when necessary. Student demonstrates broad critical thinking skills and creativity through his/her performance or product. Student successfully completes assignment and effectively portrays character, gaining the desired response from the audience.||Student partially completes assignment, exhibiting a basic understanding of elements of performance and vocabulary. Student demonstrates basic critical thinking skills through his/her performance or product but ineffectively portrays character.||Student partially completes assignment, exhibiting minimal understanding of elements of performance and vocabulary. Student demonstrates minimal critical thinking skills through his/her performance or product. Student minimally completes assignment.||Student demonstrates minimal or no effort in attempting the task.|
Support - Connections - Resources - Author
- KET education consultants offer consultation and workshops in multimedia and video production.