Shakespeare Reloaded: “Macbeth”

Macbeth front small text“Shakespeare reloaded: Macbeth” is a journey for students and others who are studying Shakespeare in English, and is designed to help them understand and enjoy the play without getting stuck in the old language of the text.

My goal during the sessions, is that the students experience a safe workshop where they know they are not going to be pulled out to perform, and that they are able to relax and enjoy the play in a new way. I find that by achieving this, I have enthusiastic students who will want to learn more themselves.

We start with a very brief look at the background: it was a dangerous time in England and Scotland in 1606: the new monarch wasn’t popular, there had already been at least one rebellion, and yet Shakespeare chose that moment to write about killing a king. Why?

Who was behind Shakespeare: was he writing what his powerful backer wanted to hear?

Who was the real Macbeth, and who was the real King Duncan? Were they really like the characters in the play?

And why, just after Macbeth kills Duncan, does Shakespeare suddenly decide it is Cabaret time?

After the foundation of the background is laid, and we understand what was happening at the time I tell the story of the play, so that we get to enjoy the story instead of getting bogged down with the archaic English.

When we reach a scene like the Witches tempting Macbeth, the Murder of Duncan or the Banquet scene, we will look at the text in detail, with the background knowledge we gained in session one, so that we can understand what is happening.

This is designed to take a double session, or ninety minutes. This can be the end of the workshop or we can have another 90 minute session.

This can be a writing exercise in English where we rewrite a a scene from the play in a more modern style, or a creative piece based on one of the characters.

If the group prefers a more active workshop, I have a role play setup. based on ascene of the play. Normally I’d suggest this should be in German: this reduces the stress levels ald allows people to relax and have fun, which I see as a very important part of helping people appreciate the text.

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