Richard III Possible ways into the whole text: Explore the idea of tyranny. Groups to create collages of words and images of past tyrants. Group analysis of first soliloquy. Students in groups of 6 are each given one sixth of the initial speech. They then try to make sense of their chunk, silently thinking about what he seems to be saying in their lines. What kind of person is he? How do they feel about him? They then share their perceptions with the rest of their group and make a list of their observations together with a list of questions they’d like to ask the teacher and the class. This could also be set up as a jigsaw exercise, with home and expert groups. Insult activity. Give each pupil an insult which has been directed at Richard. Students in two lines speak these with passion to one person who walks between them. How do these insults make the person feel, especially those said by his mother? Put up a large family tree. Explain the key characters, the line of inheritance, the number of people between Richard and the throne. What will he have to do to become King? Story-telling. Teacher tells the story up to the point of Act 3 Scene 4. With lots of “and what do you think he did next...” Video watching. It’s a 15 so you can’t show several scenes. Judiciously intersperse the story-telling with key scenes from the video. Take feedback on our perceptions of Richard, Buckingham and Hastings, Keeping a checklist of all of Richard’s schemes. Use the Teachit card sort to check for understanding of the plot. (Students can glue it in order as they listen to the story.) Approaches to the scenes The SAT paper will test students using excerpts from each of the chosen scenes. It is good if pupils can see the links between different sections of each scene. Divide the scenes into segments. Below is one segmentation; others are possible. This could be an initial revision exercise as students decide on the dramatic breaks in the set scenes and track connections. Richard pretends that witchcraft has shrivelled his arm, blaming Hastings. He tricks Hastings into pronouncing his own death. As he is led to his death Hastings reflects on his foolishness and England’s sad future. Buckingham and Richard pretend they are under attack to trick the Mayor of London into supporting their beheading of Hastings. Richard plots with Buckingham against the two young princes. King Richard asks Buckingham to kill the princes, but Buckingham is obviously unwilling to do this. King Richard plots with Catesby to marry Elizabeth and sends Tyrell to murder her brothers, the princes in the tower Richard ignores Buckingham and refuses to grant him the earldom he promised him. Buckingham flees to join Richmond’s army. Consider which sections could be linked in some way. Which ones are similar or show a contrast? Which ones involve the same characters, but show them in a different light? Which ones show different characters who are faced with a similar predicament. Which questions could arise? Possible drama activities to get into the key scenes Analogies Still images Role on the wall Hot seating – with champions Reduced Shakespeare Approaches to performance Actioning These are exemplified in detail for Act 3 Scene 4 and can be used easily with the subsequent scenes. Act 3 Scene 4 In this short extract – to forestall the planned coronation of Prince Edward – Richard suddenly turns on Hastings who had previously considered him a friend and ally. Richard acts the part of an aggrieved and injured party in their relationship, playing on the current fear of witchcraft before unleashing his venomous command for Hastings’ execution. The other nobles desert their colleague, driven by fear and the force of Richard’s ‘logic’. Hastings goes to his death reflecting on his foolishness and warning the audience of Richard’s villainy. Analogies: Students will flesh these out with details taken from their own experience. Learning objective: to become familiar with the broad themes and issues of the extract. 1. Person A does something he/she thinks his/her best friend, Person B, will like. Person B is very annoyed by what Person A has done. Person B persuades all other friends to turn against person A. (4 students) 2. Your best friend turns on you for their own benefit and all your other friends abandon you. (Groups of 3 – 5) 3. You think someone has been very two-faced about something. To trick them you ask them to say what they would do if a person had done something bad to them. You turn their answer against them. (Pairs) Now have a quick reading of the scene, making links between the actions in the scene and the students’ scenarios. Ask students to write a short summary of what happens in the scene. Exploring character Short task or starter activity Still images Learning objective: to understand the motivation behind the words and actions of Richard and Hastings Ask pupils (in groups of 5 or 6) to form still images of short extracts from the scene (Some examples are below). Explain that one will be the person delivering the line, one will be the person to whom the line is directed and the rest will be bystanders. Stress the importance of gesture, expression and the grouping of the characters. 1 “I pray you all, tell me what they deserve That do conspire my death with devilish plots Of damned withcraft?” 2 “Thou art a traitor! Off with his head!” 3. “The rest that love me, rise and follow me.” 4. “Come lead me to the block. Bear him my head. They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.” Once the images have been formed, in role use thought-tapping to establish what the individuals in the group are feeling. Then let them come out of role and ask them for the key words in the text which informed their grouping, gestures and facial expressions. Writing Teacher models writing an answer which focuses on one or two key words showing their effect on (a) other characters in the scene (b) an audience. Ask students to take words or phrases from their extract and to write a short analysis in the same way. Longer activity Role on the wall Learning objective: to explore character Teachers should have large outlines representing Richard, Hastings and Buckingham respectively on 3 sheets of sugar-paper or wall paper ready on display. Inside the outline in black note down the things the class have learned about these characters from a general understanding of the plot e.g. deformed, desire to be king etc. Short quotations can be used to add detail if space allows. Outside in blue for Act 3 scenes 4 and 5 will be the responses to the questions below which will form the basis of a hot-seating exercise. (Information from the second scene, Act 4 Scene 2 will be in red.) Show the first part of the scene in the Ian McKellan version up to the point where the SAT extract begins (i.e. BEFORE Richard’s second entrance.) Discuss what has been seen and add information to the Role-on-wall sheets in black. Read through the rest of the scene. Discuss Put students into small groups to represent either Richard or Hastings and to discuss and prepare answers to the questions below. Hastings Why did you trust Richard? Why did you arrange the coronation of Prince Edward? How did you feel when Richard turned on you? Did you have any warning before this meeting that you were in danger? Would you have done things differently with hindsight? Richard Why did you have to kill Hastings? Did you know for sure you’d get away with it? Why? How? Who can you trust? How do you know? Do you believe in witchcraft? Why do you want to stop Prince Edward from becoming King? After the groups have prepared their answers, put all the Richard groups together on one side of the room, do the same with the Hastings groups on the other so that they can share and refine their ideas and responses. Ask each of the large groups to elect a spokesperson who will ask and answer questions in role. At this point, depending on your students, EITHER you can allow the groups to act as their character’s’ advisers who can discretely feed in information before or during their character’s response OR you can keep the groups as an audience who may applaud when they feel a response has been particularly good, with the teacher acting as questioner and ‘umpire’. Focus on developed explanations which refer to the text and to the students’ knowledge of the play. Writing Using whiteboards, students in pairs scribe answers to some of the questions. Teacher synthesises responses and enters them in blue on the outside of the role-on-wall figures. Reflect on the thought processes which allowed the class to come to their findings. Exploring Language Short activity or starter Learning objective: identifying the language used to explore themes in the play EITHER Hand out cards which say: RELIGION, WITCHCRAFT or BLOOD AND GORE and ask pairs of pupils to underline or highlight phrases in the scene which fit the card they have been given. As you call out the register as pupils to respond with the word or phrase they like best WITH FEELING! OR Ask students to highlight their favourite dramatic words or phrases. Then put up the three categories on the board and ask them to put their quotations in the correct box. Discuss their findings. Lesson activity Reduced Shakespeare Learning objective: identifying the key episodes and quotations in the scene Set up the premise that Richard III is going to be filmed. The director needs to cut the scene to the bare bones but still wants to keep the atmosphere and pace that we find in the language of the original scene. Group students into threes EITHER ask trios to lift no more than 12 lines from Shakespeare’s text to form the script of the scene for the film. (Resource 1a)(Insist on whole lines so that you can reinforce the importance of iambic pentameter.) OR give out Resource 1b to cut up for a sorting and sticking exercise. (Students can check against their scripts of the play for the order.) You could build in difficulty by asking students to get rid of two lines from this activity and explain what difference this would make. (Whichever activity you choose, students must be able to justify their choices.) OR give out Resource 1b as a script asking students to insert the name of the character who is speaking using the original scene as a reference. Resource 1a Character Lines you chose Resource 1b Character Lines I pray you all, tell me what they deserve That do conspire my death with devilish plots I say, my lord, they have deserved death. See how I am bewitch'd; behold mine arm Is, like a blasted sapling, wither'd up: If they have done this thing, my gracious lord— Tellest thou me of 'ifs'? Thou art a traitor: Off with his head. Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done: The rest, that love me, rise and follow me. Woe, woe for England! not a whit for me; For I, too fond, might have prevented this. Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head. O momentary grace of mortal men, Which we more hunt for than the grace of God! O bloody Richard! miserable England! Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head. They smile at me that shortly shall be dead. Pupils now have a script in front of them. This will be explored in several ways and then prepared for a memorised? (Honest, they like it!!) performance. Writing Students should write the story of the extract in not more than 50 words. Lesson activity Explorations Learning objective: to experiment with different ways of delivering a script 1. At first, sitting back to back in a trio, listening to the words as they are said. 2. Reading the lines (on their feet and moving as much as the space allows) in the following ways encouraging playful extreme explorations, for example: Pirates of the Caribbean – (extreme characterisation) Jack Sparrow = Richard, Orlando = Hastings etc, Eastenders – (naturalistic acting) Phil = Richard, Hastings = Minty Lord of the Rings – (portentous acting) Orc = Richard, Frodo = Hastings) Encourage exaggerated acting. If you wished you could give out the ideas for the extreme explorations in sealed envelopes and the rest of the class would have to guess the genre of the exploration at the end of the ‘performance’, evaluating the appropriateness of that genre as an interpretation. (Now pupils need to consider how they would actually interpret the mini- scene. These extreme explorations will make them think of different ways the characters could be played, but teachers will need to make the point that this is a historical drama which has a serious message, so their final performance needs to reflect this.) Lesson activity Mime Learning objective: to understand how to write about the ways that an actor can physically express an emotion. Short activity or starter Teacher expresses an emotion physically e.g. sits down, head in hands and sighs (more than once so pupils can see it clearly.) Students, in pairs, note down on white-boards the gestures and facial expressions (denotation). Take feedback – stress the importance of precise descriptions – and then ask for one or two words to describe the emotion being expressed (connotation) e.g. despair, exasperation. Aim for precision in denotation and vivid vocabulary for the emotions. The teacher then acts as puppet. Using the line: “behold, mine arm is like a blasted sapling, wither'd up’, ask for students to suggest ways to deliver the line physically. Discuss, then ask pairs of students to model another line for each other. Writing Give pupils the line, “Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head. They smile at me that shortly shall be dead.” They should write a short paragraph describing how Hastings should say it to his executioners. Longer session Actioning* Learning objective: to understand the motivation behind a character’s words Intentions. (*Actioning is a drama term describing the process by which actors unpeel the underlying intention of the character who says the line. Through careful study of the text, professional actors would – line by line, especially with Shakespeare – identify their character’s key motivation for what they say. They would then follow this with different sorts of physical explorations of the words. It’s a useful device for preparing for writing about language in performance. ) Looking at the lines from the last lesson… EITHER ask students to decide on the appropriate intentions for each line they chose (Using Resource 1c) OR ask them to decide the intentions to the relevant line (Resource 1 d) OR match the intentions to the relevant line (Cut up and card sort using Resource 1e) In either case the teacher will need to model the process Students should practise saying their lines in such a way that this intention is clear. The effect will not be naturalistic at first, but after one or two attempts they should leave their prompts and run through the lines from memory. They can then, if you wish, perform their scripts from memory for the class for an En1 assessment. Each performance needs to be followed by some evaluation, praising the group for their interpretation of a particular line. If you don’t have time then listen to some readings of particular lines, asking pupils to explain their emphasis. Now you could watch the scene in on the Ian McKellan DVD. Ask pupils to explain some of the director’s key decisions. Writing: Using the PEE structure, model writing an analysis of the language of one of the key lines in the scene, incorporating the intention, showing how it reveals the motivation behind it. Ask students to choose one other line and write a similar paragraph. Resource 1c Character Lines you chose from Act 3 Scene 4 Possible speaking intention (actioning*) Resource 1.d Character Lines from Act 3 Scene 4 Possible speaking intention (actioning*) I pray you all, tell me what they deserve TO TRICK That do conspire my death with devilish plots I say, my lord, they have deserved death. See how I am bewitch'd; behold mine arm Is, like a blasted sapling, wither'd up: If they have done this thing, my gracious lord — Tellest thou me of 'ifs'? Thou art a traitor: Off with his head. Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done: The rest, that love me, rise and follow me. Woe, woe for England! not a whit for me; For I, too fond, might have prevented this. Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head. O momentary grace of mortal men, Which we more hunt for than the grace of God! O bloody Richard! miserable England! Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head. They smile at me that shortly shall be dead. Resource 1e To be cut up for card sort. Character Lines Possible speaking intention (actioning*) I pray you all, tell me what they deserve TO TRICK That do conspire my death with devilish plots I say, my lord, they have deserved death. TO IMPRESS See how I am bewitch'd; behold mine arm TO GAIN Is, like a blasted sapling, wither'd up: PITY If they have done this thing, my gracious lord — TO QUERY Tellest thou me of 'ifs'? Thou art a traitor: TO ACCUSE Off with his head. Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done: TO The rest, that love me, rise and follow me. COMMAND Woe, woe for England! not a whit for me; TO BLAME For I, too fond, might have prevented this. HIMSELF Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head. TO HURRY SOMEONE ALONG O momentary grace of mortal men, TO EXPLAIN Which we more hunt for than the grace of God! O bloody Richard! miserable England! TO CURSE Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head. TO WARN They smile at me that shortly shall be dead.
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