Introducing Duologues: Shakespeare in the Classroom

When should I use this exercise?

I use this exercise as a way of introducing duologues in the classroom. It may be used to lead into a longer assessment task. You may choose to use the whole duologue included below or just assign a section. I like to give students a couple of lessons to work on this so that they feel confident in incorporating their choices for performance and peer feedback and reflection.

Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1:

Warm up using the game ‘Yes/No Arguments’. Students work in pairs. Each student chooses Yes or No as their ‘weapon’. They must not use body language to help them. After a time students should swap over and use the other ‘weapon’. Raise the stakes. How much does your character want this?

Step 2:

Now add text from Macbeth.

Macbeth: What hands are here? Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.

Lady M:   A little water clears us of this deed.

Step 3:

The Eye Contact Game. Try using the text below from Act II, Scene ii with Macbeth trying to make eye contact and Lady Macbeth trying to avoid it. Then switch, Lady Macbeth trying to make eye contact and Macbeth avoiding it.

Step 4:

Hit the page: On the last word of each line, on repetition of words, on repetition of sounds, on any word that feels important.

Step 5:

Add an intention: What do I want? How do I get it? (Use simple tactics at first – Hook Investigate, Deflect, Block).

Step 6:

Physicalise the intention: Step in/Step out/Step the the side as a way of doing this.

Step 7:

Put it all together. Students use what they have learnt from the steps above to present their duologues to the class.

Step 8:

Reflect on the different choices made. What does this tell us about the characters and the freedom that Shakespeare gives for interpretation?

The instructions for this exercise, and accompanying example dialogue can be downloaded in PDF form here.

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