The following great curriculum is significantly indebted to the work of the fine folks at 2010 Make Mine A Shakesperience!
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Refer also to the various publications of R. Heinemann, Iowa State University, 2009-2005.  


Teaching Theatre for Life Skills:



Research proves that theatre is a medium for teaching many important life skills- from teamwork to textual and literacy interpretation.  Research also proves that theatre can be structured to become a powerful public health prevention tool, not only provide key development assets, but also providing essential elements of pro-social bonding, particularly for at-risk populations.  (See the Hawkins-Catelano University of Washington/Communities That Care Prevention Model). And theatre is one of the all-time great social “levelers”.  Like sports, the arts are a medium in which prejudice or one’s past has a much lessened power – the arts reward talent in ways which typically have much less room to be affected by bias.  And, Shakespeare in particular offers many unique benefits- performed in all cultures of the world, Shakespeare can serve as a bridge across cultures while it focuses on enduring human truths common to us all.  Moreover, youth who emerge as “Shakespearean actors” see themselves- and are seen by their communities – in a whole new light.

The ISE supports all of the above reasons for teaching Shakespeare- and indeed, actively involves itself in research-validated methodologies for creating measurable development asset growth. 

However, an additional key goal of ISE Shakespeare Curriculum is the illumination of issues of theatrical choice, and the relationship of choice not only to theatre, but to human existence itself.  Plays are porous- they change in terms of how they are staged and how they are experienced- and in doing so, they can teach us much about how we stage and experience our own lives.  Indeed, the “perceptual screens” we use to filter and process our lives are porous in the same way that plays are. 

Thus, the ISE believes that the concept of theatrical choice – in all of its numerous incarnations- can have significant meaning in the lives of students of all ages, because that concept is at the heart of life-skills such as “Reframing” (a technique which involves teaching people in various difficult situations to “see more” of what is there- thereby enabling people to change the way they experience a situation – even if they can do nothing to change the situation itself.)  This work is strongly related to the seminal work of Albert Ellis who was inspired by many of the teachings of Asian, Greek, Roman and modern philosophers.  Albert Ellis’s work is explored and further developed by multiple practitioners today, and often goes by the name of “ABC” therapy.




From “Make Mine a Shakesperience”, here is a cogent discussion of choice that directors and Actors face in portrary the famous Banquet scene of MacBeth: 

Scene performances involve a great deal of preparation and planning; especially when the scene is as complex and pivotal as 3.4. Directors and actors alike must sit down long before rehearsal even begins to address some of the delightfully open ended issues present in the scene, such as:

-How should Macbeth’s discussion with the murderer be staged? If it does take place at the feast, how should the lords and Lady Macbeth react to that side conversation?
-How should Banquo’s ghost be portrayed? Who sees it? How will these decisions affect the mood of the performance and the emotions or sympathies of the audience?
-How should Lady Macbeth/the lords react to Macbeth’s fit? What will the audience conclude from these reactions?



1. Why do you think the witches chose Macbeth and Duncan to tell them their futures?

2. Why couldn’t Macbeth kill Banquo and his son (personally) even though he’s so eager for them to die?

3. Being a wise man, does Duncan ever suspect Macbeth’s treachery?

4. When lady Macbeth says she can’t kill Duncan because he looks like her father do you think she is being honest or not? Why?

——additional thoughts: Why does the line exist at all? What are we to gather about the character of Lady Macbeth from this seemingly simple utterance? How would your answer for this question shape your interpretation of LM as a director/performer?




Once a company comes to an agreement on these important questions, work can then begin on bringing their particular vision of the banquet and its participants to life through blocking, staging of set elements and acting choices. 

“Make mine a Shakesperience” suggests the following fun ways to prepare to answer these questions: 

A. Watch the three video clips of 3.4 paying close attention to how the director of each interpretation deals with the aforementioned issues.
B. How did the directors use camera angles, close-ups and other techniques to influence their viewing audience? How would  YOU like to explore staging the scene differently?

Macbeth 3.4 Clips
-version 1.0 (Roman Polanski) <>
-version 2.0 (Trevor Nunn) <>
-version 3.0 (Animated Shakespeare, 4:50-6:56)



60 Second Shakespeare!

Often found as a component of various Shakespeare Festivals, the SSS approach to Shakespeare is also a beloved teaching tool. Involving the use of improv, pantomime, in-jokes, and manic fast “hamming it up” activity in combination with short “Twitter” type text, any number of different Shakespeare scenes can be done as SSS – in fact, so can entire plays!  This is an extremely fun, “inside joke” way to approach the beloved Bard!

In the classroom or workshop, 60 second Shakespeare assignments can be made to either individuals or pairs. However, when in pairs, both members need to be active at an equal level.

An especially fun way to do SSS is similar to charades- have a pool of famous scenes, and have groups vie to tell the story quickly- in some cases, you may wish to NOT allow certain famous cheats (like Lady Mc.Beth wringing her hands).  

One way to start approaching SSS is through Edit-o-rama: otherwise known as “Where’s the Beef”

Take key scenes from text, and edit the scene to half its size. As the blog “Make Mine a Shakesperience” notes: “One way directors, educators and other keepers of the Bardic flame streamline these sometimes overwhelming Shakesperiences is through selective editing. As you have doubtless discovered while reading these plays, Shakespeare’s wonderfully dense language can sometimes obscure a character’s feelings or action. In these cases, some choose to  shorten the work or quicken its pace through editing so as to get to the very core of a story or scene with a minimum of fuss”.

In this assignment, students should attempt to ruthlessly edit passages to half their size, while retaining the “meat”. 

Here are samples of what some students on “Make Mine a Shakesperience” have done with text from MacBeth:

60 Second Shakespeare Samplees: MacBethAct 1.5-7

Asks “Make Mine a Shakesperience”: “How often have you found yourself in serious need of some Shakespeare but depressingly short on time? Here are bite sized bits of the Bard courtesy of Keystone Montessori, ready to sustain a play hungry populace until the full text can be given due consideration. 

Sample student SSS Macbeth:

Act 1. 5. Inverness. Macbeth’s Castle
Enter Lady Macbeth, reading a letter
Macbeth (by letter): Dear Honey, awesome stuff happened! Some witches said I’m gonna be king and I’ve been made the thane of Cawdor; so let’s kill the king!
Lady Macbeth: You don’t have the evilness to do this!
Enter Servant
Servant: The king’s coming.
Lady McB: That’s crazy.
Servant: Nuh-uh, he sent a guy ahead.
Lady McB: Spirits give me strength and make me more like a man for this evil deed I’ll do tonight! Don’t let heaven stop me! Macbeth will be great!
Enter Macbeth
Macbeth: Duncan’s coming and will leave tomorrow.
Lady McB: He’ll never leave. You have to not look so guilty. I’ll handle the rest.

Act 1.6 Before Macbeth’s Castle
Enter Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus and Attendents
Duncan: Nice castle.
Banquo: I agree.
Enter Lady Macbeth
Duncan: Here comes our hostess! Sorry for the inconvenience.
Lady McB: No trouble at all; you honor us.
Duncan: Where’s Macbeth? He go here fast.
Lady McB: Glad to have you here.
Duncan: Take me to Macbeth. He’s awesome.

Act 1.7. Macbeth’s Castle
Enter Macbeth
Macbeth: I’m not certain I wanna kill Duncan.
Enter Lady Macbeth
Lady McB: Have you punked out?
Macbeth: No! Doing it is unmanly though.
Lady McB: Not doing what you said you would is unmanly. If I was breast feeding a baby, I’d pluck my breast out of his mouth and smash his brains out if I said I would.
Macbeth: What if we fail?
Lady McB: We won’t! I’ll get his servants drunk and then we’ll kill Duncan.
Macbeth: I hope you don’t have daughters because they won’t be anything feminine. Won’t people think the servants did it?
Lady McB: Duh!
Macbeth: OK, let’s do it! Let’s go act like we don’t wanna kill him.

Act 1.5. Inverness. Macbeth’s Castle
Enter Lady Macbeth, reading a letter
Lady Macbeth (reading): ‘…these weird sisters saluted me, and referred
me to the coming time, with ‘Hail, king that shall be!’
Enter Macbeth
Macbeth: Duncan comes tonight.
Lady M: And when goes hence?
M: Tomorrow as he purposes.
Lady M: O, never
Shall sun that morrow see!
…bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under’t.

Act 1.6. Before Macbeth’s Castle

Enter Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus and Attendents
Duncan: This castle has a pleasant seat.

Act 1.7. Macbeth’s Castle
Enter Macbeth
M: If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here…
He’s (Duncan) here in double trust;
First, as I am his his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself.
Enter Lady Macbeth
Lady M: What beast was’t, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
…you were a man… and you would
Be much more than a man.
When Duncan is asleep,
What cannot you and I perform upon the unguarded Duncan?
What not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?
M: Will it not be received,
When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done’t?





-A little bit of a modernized Pyramus and Thisby for younger audiences:

MacB the Rapper:  Hip Hop meets Hip Bard
(OF COURSE there’s more than one)
-”Take the Crown” <

-”Sound and Fury” <>

For the more scholarly among us:

-Says “Make Mine a Shakesperience”: “Premier Shakespearean scholar Marjorie Garber argues for the Bard as the father of modern culture and chats about how contemporary critics use the character of  Lady Macbeth “cut down” modern female politicians…”Shakespeare makes modern culture”