The Domiciles Project

Lesson Plans

Title: Theatre: Acting Shakespeare

Date: February 21, 2013

By: Martha Pfeiffer

City: Lewes

State: DE

Grade: 9-12

School: Cape Henlopen High School

Martha E. Pfeiffer-Theatre Instructor

Director of the Cape Henlopen High School Theatre Academy


The Domiciles Project: Lesson Plans for Acting Shakespeare


Big Idea: The Visual Arts have the power to enrich the lives and endeavors of humankind.  In a highly technological society such as ours, the visual arts serve as a humanizing force, giving dignity and a sense of worth to the individual.  They provide the means by which aesthetic quality and order are derived from the exercise of an individual’s creativity and critical understanding.


Know: Students will recognize that the prospective content for works of visual art come from a variety of sources.  


Understand:  Art is a living, breathing form of expression. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to interpreting art. One piece may be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on the life experiences of both the artist and the audience.


Do:  Students will be able to

  • Identify subject matter, symbols, and ideas in works of art
  • Integrate a variety of sources for subject matter, symbols, and/or ideas which best communicate an intended meaning in works of art
  • Evaluate the sources for content to validate the manner in which subject matter, symbols, and ideas are used in works of art
  • Describe and differentiate the origins of specific subject matter, symbols, and ideas in works of art
  • Analyze how the use of subject matter, symbols, and ideas are used in works of art.

Essential Question: Why does the interpretation of art vary from person to person? What factors contribute to such different ideas?

Activating Strategy: This lesson will begin with a class discussion about the following Shakespearean plays: Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

  • Which plays are about love? Which are about revenge? Which plays are tragedies? Comedies? 
  • Students will be asked to justify their decision with examples from the text and/or action.
  • Tell student that they will be observing a series of doors that have been used to display a variety of images. Choose the door that best represents one of the plays we have been studying- when you see it, you’ll know.

Activity: Students will think about the play or character that is being represented by the door they have chosen. Follow up discussion in class after we return from the display.

  • Students will describe the door they chose and what about the piece represents this particular work/character.
  • All answers/ ideas will be supported by examples from the text.
  • Students will then create a monologue- in modern language- that would be spoken by their character from the other side of the door. Perhaps a scene that was never written. Or thoughts that were never shared.
  • Monologues will be performed in a workshop setting.


Students will read their monologues to the class- without telling us which door or play that they have chosen to write about. 

Ask the following questions- in an interview scenario- after each student has finished the reading:


1. At what point in the action are you speaking? What has just happened?

1. Where are you when you are speaking?

2. To whom are you speaking?

3. Is this a soliloquy or a monologue?

4. What do you hope to accomplish as a result of speaking these words?


These questions will guide each student to further clarify their writing, to make their message clear to their audience.


After a few moments to think about the answers to these questions, students will perform their piece again for a final grade.