Shakespeare Activities

Editing Hamlet

Group 1: 1.2.129-59
Group 2: 1.5.92-112
Group 3: 2.2.559-617
Group 4: 3.1.56-89
Group 5: 3.3.396-407
Group 6: 4.4.32-66
Group 7: 5.1.185-97

Instructions: Read the soliloquy, speech, or dialogue assigned to your group, and answer the following questions. Be prepared to share your answers with the class.

  1. What is the context for the passage? (What is happening in the play up to this point, and what will follow it?)
  2. What do you think is the purpose of the passage?
  3. What are the passage’s most important ideas and images, and why are they important?
  4. How does this passage fit within or address the major themes or issues of the play?
  5. Imagine you are the director of Hamlet, and your production is pressed for time. What might you cut from this passage (or would you cut the whole thing?), and how would you defend your choice?
  6. Imagine you are an actor in the production from the previous question—how would you convince the director not to remove the lines he wants to cut?

Twelfth Night Adaptation

A production company has asked your team to adapt Twelfth Night into a film. You can spend as much money as you want and hire anyone you like, but you have to make it appeal to a contemporary audience by combining it with a popular movie genre. The film can be a staging that uses Shakespeare’s words and plot, a translation that tells the same story with an original script, or an extended citation that uses Shakespeare’s language and characters but to a different purpose. On this handout, outline your group’s proposed adaptation, explaining how you’ll use familiar elements of the movie genre, and explaining how you’ll make the play fit into that genre. You should think about scenery, costumes, and casting, and you should also think about textual elements like language, plot, character, and themes.

Options for Film Genres:

Science Fiction; Swords and Sorcery; Western; Horror; Chick Flick/Rom-Com; Broadway Musical; Bollywood; Animated Family Film; Action Movie; War Epic; Kung Fu/Martial Arts; Vampires/Werewolves; Crime/Police Procedural; Historical/Period Drama

Filling in the Gaps: Writing a new Conclusion for Measure for Measure

In pairs, write a dialogue in which you fill in the gaps left at the end of Shakespeare’s play: the Duke has proposed to Isabella, and while she has not verbally responded, we suspect she might have something to say. How will she respond to him after all the other characters have left the stage? Make sure your dialogue is consistent with their characters, though you should not worry about mimicking Shakespeare’s language or form.

As you write your dialogue, consider the following questions:

  1. What are the Duke’s motives for asking Isabella to marry him?
  2. Why didn’t Isabella verbally respond when he first asked her?
  3. What will the Duke say to try and persuade her?
  4. What persuasive techniques will the Duke use, based on his past behavior and words?
  5. How does Isabella react to his proposal on an emotional level?
  6. How does she react to his proposal on a rational level?
  7. What role will religion play in her decision?
  8. Will she argue against him? If so, what guides her response?

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