"Group Project: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar"
Honors English II Mr. Ficociello Group Project: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar I. Shakespeare’s plays are difficult for many of us to understand, and for several good reasons. To begin with, most students today are not familiar with watching plays—an activity that’s quite a bit different from watching movies or television. More importantly, many of us—even Shakespearean experts—find plays written in the language of Shakespeare’s day tough going, since the language Shakespeare writes in is essentially a different dialect of English. So in order to familiarize ourselves with the drama, theme and context of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, we’ll do a group project over the next few weeks. This project will serve as a research project, which counts four times (4x) grade. You will report to me once a week on your progress. It is important that everyone begin work as soon as possible. II. Groups of students will work together on projects. 1) Each group will consist of 2 to 4 students. 2) At our initial meeting, the group will submit a list of three project preferences that the group has agreed on; the list will be in order of preference. I will then assign each group its project based on its preference, the availability of that project, and the appropriateness of that project for a particular group. If a group of students wishes to do so, it can design its own project, though such a project must be cleared with me ahead of time. 3) Every member of a group must participate equally in the project. Anyone who does not participate fully will receive a substantially lower grade that the rest of the group. Barring any such problem, all group members will receive the same grade for the group’s project. 4) Presentations for each group should last about 10 minutes (15 minutes maximum). 5) Each group will complete its own unique project. Groups should be careful not to overlap too much information with other projects. Each project will be assigned to only one group in a class. 6) During our last class meeting each week, your group will submit a Project Progress Report (these are attached to this summary). Note that there are three (3) separate progress reports on the sheet; each should be filled out, clipped from the sheet, and turned in to me as it becomes due. Making sure these reports are turned in is your responsibility. For ease of use, the last (or bottom) form will be the first one that is due. 7) Plan to get together in person, online, by telephone, or by any other means you have at your disposal to discuss, plan, and put develop your project outside of school. Honors English II Mr. Ficociello III. Groups should choose from one of the following projects: 1. Create puppets (marionettes, puppets, etc.) to perform a scene from the play. A well-designed and constructed puppet stage should be part of your project. Puppets should be dressed appropriately for Julius Caesar and should demonstrate that you have taken some care in preparing them and getting them to work. You may choose to perform the play as character puppets (i.e., to look like the Romans in the play) or as an allegory or fable (e.g., to look like animals or some other type of person from another time and/or place). 2. Perform a scene from the play using all the members of your group. After all, Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed. Using appropriate dress for Romans, set up and produce a substantial and important scene from Julius Caesar. If call for, some members of your group may need to play more than one role, though you should make it easy for the classroom audience to tell when roles have changed for an actor. You should have enough background scenery to make your scene convincing (don’t be too extravagant). Be sure to cast your players appropriately. Lines should make as little use of scripts as possible. 3. Stage a modern, taped broadcast from the scene of Julius Caesar’s assassination, as if you were covering Caesar’s arrival in the Senate and the ensuing events as a reporter for CNN. You can interview Caesar’s wife Calpurnia, his friend Marc Antony and any of the assassins, as well as any others from the play that you think might be able to tell us something about Caesar and what his assassination means for Rome. (You are not limited to the above-named characters, nor must they be included in your broadcast.) 4. Create a special edition of a newspaper, appropriately named, that includes the sort of news about the assassination that a modern newspaper contains, relevant to Caesar, his assassination, the era, and the play. You can use any or all of the following ideas in your newspaper, or you can come up with articles of your own or use a combination of both. Some ideas: Obituaries for Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius. News from a political correspondent. Writing about the political unrest in Rome. An article for the social pages about the two couples in the play (the Caesars and the Brutuses). An astrological forecast that gives Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius a reading. A report on the Lupercal Races for the sports page. A report on the assassination by an ace reporter written for the front page. A fashion layout for the Style section for ladies and gentlemen who want to look good at the Lupercal Games. A meteorological forecast describing the weather the night before and the day Caesar was killed. A letter to the editor protesting the assassination and the work of the conspirators. A letter to the editor defending Julius Caesar. A letter to the editor defending the conspirators. An editorial by the publisher of the newspaper Honors English II Mr. Ficociello about the current and upcoming political situation in Rome. A business report and about how the assassination will affect the country. A political cartoon dealing with the power struggle. A political cartoon dealing with Caesar’s actions (including his refusal of the crown and his epileptic seizure at the Lupercal games. A spotlight column on Brutus. A spotlight column on Anthony. A spotlight column on Cassius. A tribute to Portia. A column on portents (ominous signs) in the play. An editorial about the many mistakes of Brutus and/or Cassius. An interview with Cassius and Octavius about their battle plans. And interview with Brutus and Antony about their battle plans. A forecast as an augurer (fortune teller or soothsayer) that interprets the findings of the chicken. An interview with the Soothsayer to report his reaction to the assassination. An interview with an average Roman citizen for his reaction to all the political unrest. 5. Rewrite a scene or scenes from Julius Caesar using contemporary (in other words, today’s everyday ) English and not the paraphrased wording you have been using. Then do a reading of your modern rewrite for the class. Make sure to rehearse your part and do a smooth, credible job of reading. Everyone in the group should participate in the rewrite and reading. 6. Perform a contemporary musical or rap version of Julius Caesar. You can either tape this ahead of time if you wish, or perform it live. You should plan to use background music that is appropriate to your script. 7. Put together a web production or web site that teaches us about the play. 8. Write a mini-novel or mini-epic poem that tells the story of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The mini-novel should be substantial and can include original material. The mini-epic poem should be written in meter and should use a rhyme scheme your group agrees on. 9. Write a monologue for each of the major characters: Brutus, Cassius, Caesar, Antony, Calpurnia, Portia. Then recite each monologue in class. Each recital should include who you feel the character really is, what his or her part in the story means, what their concerns or internal conflicts are, and what they believe the audience must think of them. You should answer at least some of the following questions: a. What did my character do for a living? b. What did my character do to earn his/her social position? c. What did they do for fun or entertainment? d. What did they believe spiritually? e. What rights did my character have under government law? f. Where did they live for a home? g. What family did they have? h. What did they eat for food? i. Etc. 10. Create a diorama of a scene from the play. The entire diorama should be at least 2’deep by 3’ wide by ’ high. The diorama should include a set (background), character figures, a display of what the scene is, and appropriate dress for the Honors English II Mr. Ficociello characters. You can add any other characteristics you think your class would find interesting. 11. Create a map of ancient Rome at the time of Caesar’s assassination. Indicate where people lived and where the events of the play took place: for instance, Brutus’ house, Caesar’s house, the Senate building, the Circus where the Lupercal took place, and other spots of interest. IV. Final presentations will take place March 20th and 21st (dates are subject to change with advanced warning). Honors English II Mr. Ficociello Project Progress Report: Julius Caesar Project Progress Report: Julius Caesar Week 3 (Due 3/16) Participants: ________________________________________________________ Short Project Description: _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Describe the progress your group made this week in completing your project: _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Project Progress Report: Julius Caesar Week 2 (Due 3/8) Participants: ________________________________________________________ Short Project Description: _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Describe the progress your group made this week in completing your project: _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Project Progress Report: Julius Caesar Week 1 (Due 3/2) Participants: ________________________________________________________ Short Project Description: _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Describe the progress your group made this week in completing your project: _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Honors English II Mr. Ficociello Project Preferences Group Members: _____________________________________________________ Group Leader: _______________________________ Project Preferences: 1. ____________________________ 2. ____________________________ 3. ____________________________ Factors that may affect Mr. Ficociello’s decision to assign this particular project to your group: ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________