Theatre: Shakespeare Performance HS is designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to develop skills in theatre arts through the viewing, study and performance of Shakespeare’s plays. In addition, students will participate in performance projects in theatre styles from the period. Students will engage in research on Elizabethan dramatic conventions and traditions, studying how these reflect the cultures from which they emerged. Students develop their writing skills through preparation of character analyses, performance critiques and research reports. Students will engage in intensive study of Shakespearean poetic forms and Elizabethan history. Course content promotes writing skills through preparation of character analyses and performance critiques. Opportunities for improvisation and advanced acting projects may be included.
Students will develop understanding of how theatrical productions influence culture and values. Students will explore essential questions such as: How does theatre offer insight into the culture, values, and aspirations of any given group of people?
I. The Elizabethan World and its influence on theatre will be read about and researched.
A. Society and Royals of the period controlled theatre and had diverse opinions on what it should contain. Those to be studied may include: Queen Elizabeth !; Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex; King Philip II of Spain; Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton; Lord Chamberlain, Henry Carey; Lord Mayor of London
B. Economics of the times were hard; theatre was often not profitable and has to be subsidized.
C. Entertainments were varied such as cock fights, bear baiting, executions, bull baiting with bulldogs; audiences were used to participating in the activities.
II. Medieval and Elizabethan Theatre was strongly influenced by several important factors.
A. Religious Influence brought theatre out of the Dark Ages with miracle and morality plays and then theatre was often challenged by the Anglicans, the Puritans and the Catholics who all had different points of view.
B. Patronage was necessary in Elizabethan theatre; all of the established companies had a patron, and they competed strongly for audiences. Some patrons told companies what they could and could not do.
C. Conventions included: boys playing female roles, groundlings talking to the actors, soliloquies, dueling, limited scenery, special effects, performed in daylight, music and dance
III. Shakespeare saw traveling Italian Comedy performances as a boy, and it influenced some of his writing.
A. Improvisation was often used in comedies in performance as well as rehearsal.
B. Commedia dell’Arte influenced Shakespeare in the way he wrote many of his comic characters as well as the physicality of his plays.
C. The Comedies will be studied such as Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It to compare and contrast the elements.
IV. Shakespeare was influenced by Spanish Tragedy, especially its themes.
A. Structure of the tragedies was similar with five acts, beautiful poetic language, and almost everyone dying by the end of the play.
B. Social Themes connected with these plays include: war, politics, greed, betrayal, jealousy, revenge, religion
C, The Tragedies will be studied such as Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear and Othello; they will be compared to one another and to the comedies.
V. Elizabethan Dance and Movement was an important aspect of theatre.
A. Posture, Walks, Gesture were carefully designed for each character and added greatly to the comedy or seriousness of a performance.
B. Court Dance was part of many of the plays. It was studied by all and added to the spectacle of the plays.
C. Acrobatics and Juggling were sometimes performed before the play or in selected scenes such as the Players in Hamlet or the clowns in many of the comedies.
VI. Stage Combat and Fencing was part of almost all performances. It ranged from tragic as in Romeo & Juliet to comic as in Twelfth Night.
A. Choreographing Stage Fights is a laborious process and requires careful rehearsal.
B. Stage Fencing expertise was a requirement for all Elizabethan actors.
C. Safety is stressed today in stage fighting, but safety does not appear to have been important in Shakespeare’s time.
VII. Poetic Structures and Iambic Pentameter were utilized by Shakespeare throughout his works.
A. Sonnets have a strict structure and rhythm; several will be studies and compared.
B. Prose and Poetry in Plays helped develop the characters and establish the comedy or tragedy of the scenes.
VIII. Shakespeare in Our World is immensely popular.
A. Variety of Interpretations of his works can be seen throughout the world; from the traditional Elizabethan style to modern dress to minimalist styles. Several styles will be experienced and compared aesthetically.
B. Popularity of Shakespeare does not seem to fade; many well established festivals and venues are popular such as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe, Stratford Festival of Canada.
C. Making It Accessible to all is the work of countless teachers as well as organizations such as Folger’s Shakespeare Library.
Demonstrate acting skill by creating characters for a variety of roles from Elizabethan theatre, including the mechanicals, the clowns, the tragic heroes, villains and romantic characters.
Use appropriate theatre terminology to describe how the following are used to convey an idea or emotion in Elizabethan theatre: form, setting, style, theme, visual design elements, movement and vocal elements. Include the ways Shakespeare’s works influence theatre today.
Expand knowledge of the various activities of the actor, director, and technical artist by participating in the collaborative process that occurs in the various aspects of production.
Complete a written research project on one aspect of Elizabethan theatre and compare it to modern theatre. Present findings to class orally.
Keep a reflective journal daily.
View a minimum of three of Shakespeare’s plays in performance and write observation critiques.
Maintain a production notebook for any scene or play presented.
Written essay style tests will be given periodically to assess depth of understanding of the period.