Oh Hell Kite! All? Consonants and Vowels – Macbeth: Shakespeare in the Classroom

When should I use this exercise?

I use this exercise as a way for students to use Shakesepare’s text to voice as a performer’s tool and skill. The consonants in Shakespeare’s text tend to carry the intellectual ideas and the vowels carry the emotions of the word. This exercise uses this idea to explore more fully the power of Shakespeare’s words. For Shakespeare’s world, words are currency, it’s how characters get what they want.

Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1:

Warm up using the game ‘Swords’. This is a Globe Theatre Game.

Divide the group into As and Bs.

Everyone stands with one arm behind their back, their palm exposed. They hold their other arm out as if they are wielding a sword. The students move around the room trying to ‘kill’ as many people as possible. To kill someone, a student has to touch the palm of another student with their sword. However all the students have to make sure they don’t get killed by someone else in the process. All the students are attacking and defending themselves at the same time. When someone is killed they must fall to the floor and stay there until the end of the game.

Step 2:

Add text from Macbeth Act 5, Scene 8:

Macduff: I have no words, My voice is in my sword.

Macbeth: I bear a charmed life that must not yield to one of woman born.

Step 3:

Students continue to work in pairs using the text below from Macbeth Act IV, Scene iii to explore the idea of consonant and vowels carrying different meaning.

Malcolm: Be comforted.

            Let’s make us med’cines of our great revenge

            To cure this deadly grief.

Macduff: He has no children. All my pretty ones?

            Did you say all? O hell kite! All?

            What all my pretty chickens and their dam

            At one fell swoop?

Step 4:

Encourage students not to look at their paper while their partner is speaking.

Step 5: 

Repeat anything where the vowels are working. 

Step 6:

Hit the page when consonants are carrying the logic.

Extension Option 1 –

Ask the students to explore the idea of the image conjured by the word hellkite. What does it look like? How does it move? In groups of four or five the students should create a physical image of a hellkite.

Extension Option 2 –

Give the image an action. Can it move through space?

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

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