We first visited the V&A to attend a workshop on Elizabethan England, with an emphasis on the theatre at that time. During the workshop, the children learned about the development of the Elizabethan theatre as well as become a rowdy audience member (true to the South Bank crowd back then). They also got to experiment with Shakespearean language, make stage sound effects and dress up as a performer in Elizabethan ruff. Most relevant to our own study is when the children, with the help of a reenactor, rehearsed and staged the witches' scene (Act 1 Scene 1) from Macbeth.
That was a good introduction to Shakespeare's work in general, but as we knew we were going to study Macbeth in drama class this term, we came home to listen to the entire play and read it to prepare ourselves better. There is also a BBC animated version of the play, which Tiger did not enjoy as much as he did with a few other plays produced by the same team that he had watched:
Being taught by the same drama teacher, the format of this term's study is very similar to that of the class on The Tempest. Besides drama skills, the four-day course also covered the following:
- character analysis
- historical context of the play
- scene analysis
- nuances of the Shakespearean language as spoken on stage
- Shakespeare's dramatic techniques in context of how the play is divided into acts
We were extremely lucky to have caught one of the last performances of Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe this season.
Macbeth, as with all Shakespearean plays, is highly complex in terms of its themes that weave together human nature, history, propaganda, beliefs, and drama. I studied this play for my O-levels and thought I knew a lot about it back then (since I got an A* for the exam), yet I find myself looking at the play now at a different level from my teenage self, with a deeeper understanding of the complexities of any given situation. As such, even though Tiger has read the unabridged text and knows the general theme of the story, he is not expected to have the same level of appreciation of the complexity of human nature as a more mature audience would have. Lessons that come from life experiences cannot be rushed.
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