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Working with Shakespeare, the Poet and Dramatist

Maggie Roberts

Contents of Curriculum Unit 91.04.10:

To Guide Entry

During the fifth century B.C. Greek poets wrote plays which contained elements so fundamental to dramatic form that they are still considered essential to a well written play. During the Elizabethan age, William Shakespeare studied these plays and reinterpreted the structure and dramatic elements to create plays which captivated the audiences of his day. In this unit we will study portions of Antigone, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet to learn about dramatic elements and poetic forms.

I will begin with the Greeks to introduce some structural elements—exposition, episode, and the role of the chorus. I will describe the Roman comedies and Shakespeare’s use of stock characters to illustrate the development of comedy. To make the experience more relevant to my students, I will ask them to find evidence of these elements in the entertainment they enjoy. How do the writers of television shows get the exposition across to the audience? Who tells the audience what’s going on in the hearts and minds of the characters in their favorite television shows? By urging students to come up with their own examples, I hope to engender some commitment to the study of theater history.

Texts for this unit include adaptations of the three plays named above. Classroom activities will involve writing, reading, speaking, moving, and interpreting. While this unit is written for students studying theater, I hope many of the activities will be used by teachers of other subjects.

Goals for this unit:

To introduce students to the work of William Shakespeare.
To introduce students to the elements of comedy and tragedy.
Strategies for this unit: Students will:
Read plays and poems.
Discuss the texts they read.
Recite poetry.
Learn 80% of the vocabulary introduced in this unit.
Dramatize poems with movement and sounds.
Write poetry in verse forms.
Demonstrate an understanding of elements of a play by creating improvisations in class.
I should explain a bit about the program I teach for. At the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet Middle School each student takes one an hour a week of theater class. They do this for the four years they might attend Betsy Ross. We have designed a curriculum which introduces them to the elements of story and play production gradually. Each year their exposure gets more sophisticated. In the eighth grade we study theater history, introducing them to the major movements in western culture. I will use the adaptations of Antigone, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet throughout the year.

While I am primarily responsible for a teaching students about the elements of theater, a secondary goal for this unit is to introduce students to elements of poetry. Some of the writing exercises are intended to get students writing their own poetry. Because the adaptation of Antigone is written in prose, students will begin by writing in a prose style. When we begin working with the Shakespearean plays, writing activities will include verse poems and sonnets, and a letter in the voice of Friar Lawrence to Romeo. A third goal for this unit is to teach students something about comedy. The scenes for A Midsummer Night’s Dream contain elements which can be traced backwards and forward in theater history. I will describe several activities which can be used to build comic characterizations.

I recommend Annabelle Howard’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone because it has been very popular with our students. Introduce them to the story by reading the prologue to them. I suggest that you read aloud first because, while students love to read aloud, you can show them how reading aloud can be done effectively. This version has language most seventh and eighth graders can handle and they will enjoy reading the dialogue, but this prologue is long and contains lots of information which is useful for discussion. You can ensure that students get meaning from the reading by adding lots of expression and emphasis. Questions for discussion might include: What does this speech tell us? What has happened prior to this scene?

Ask students to listen to the prologue again and listen to the tone of it. Sophocles’ play asks the question—What happens when man go against the gods? Talk with your students about the story of Antigone, a young woman who defied her Uncle Creon to uphold the laws of the gods. King Creon decided he had to create a law in order to restore peace to his country. Tragically, Antigone sacrifices her life for her beliefs and Creon loses all those he loves for his. Ask students if they’ve ever been in Creon’s situation. Try to include some vocabulary words in your discussion: exposition, monologue, dialogue, prologue, and inner and outer conflict.

Here are some activities which you could begin before students have gotten to know the play really thoroughly. Kenneth Koch’s Sleeping on the Wing contains exercises which suggest that students imitate the poems of poets by writing poems like those they have read. After reading the prologue from Antigone, students can write a monologue as a character like Choragus or students can write a prologue for a story from their own lives. Ask them to choose some interesting, scary or exciting event which happened to them or to someone they know. Ask them to tell it to the group briefly; give them one minute each. After they have told their story and you have been able to assess whether they have understood the assignment, ask them to write their stories out as a speech for one person. Subsequent activities could include exchanging stories with a partner and reciting or telling your partners’ story. You could choose one for the class to act out. Instead of telling the whole group your stories at the beginning of class, keep them a secret. Divide students into groups of threes and fours. Have each group choose one story to play “To Tell the Truth”. To play this game, each member of the group tells a portion of one story. The rest of the class gets to ask questions as they try to figure out who the story really belongs to. After the class has voted the real story teller can stand up just like they did in the old television show.

For an improvisational group activity using these stories, ask students to choose characters from each of their stories and combine them into new stories. This can be a good way to introduce the concept of episodes and stock characters. Classical Greek plays contained episodes. Four or five complete scenes developed the theme presented in the chorus’s opening song. This song served the same purpose the prologue serves in Howard’s version of Antigone. The Romans wrote the first comedies setting their plays in contemporary life. The characters in the Roman comedies were the same types as those found in the Greek comedies. These characters appeared year after year in their festivals of plays. What television shows do students know which have domestic settings? Do we still use episodes to tell stories? Can you name some examples? Who are some stock characters from our culture?

Young actors enjoy being a member of the chorus because they feel less self-conscious in a group. Tell them how the Greek playwrights used the chorus. Initially, the members of the chorus sang and danced in unison. Their opening song described all the events which were to follow. As play wrights began to individualize their plays the form evolved. The chorus described events which had occurred before the story began, the episodes became more suspenseful. Between scenes or episodes, the chorus summarized the action just seen. Eventually, members of the chorus stepped forward and became the first actors. In a twentieth century play like Our Town by Thornton Wilder one actor acts as narrator or chorus talking directly to us. Here are some activities for your students: Divide students into groups and ask each group to plan a choral presentation of the prologue. They can divide the lines up any way they choose or they can speak in unison. How will they enter and exit? Where will they stage themselves? Will they stand, sit, kneel? Will they move? Keep track of the time so that students can show their work to each other each class period. Each of these exercises can be the building blocks of your production.

Another good activity for developing movement ideas and which can be used for a physical warm up is called “Pass the Movement”. (Bananas) This game is played standing in a circle. Establish a beat using a tambourine or by clapping your hands. The group picks up the beat clapping along. The first player moves into the center of the circle making a simple, repetitive movement. The rest of the group copies the movement, when all are moving together, the first player moves towards someone in the circle to “give” the movement to and takes the place of this person on the circle. The new player moves to the center of the circle and evolves the movement into a new one which is also simple and easy to repeat. After the player has repeated a movement several times and the group picks it up and copies it, he/she passes the movement to another player. The process is repeated until everyone has had a turn.

Here are two different activities which can help your students develop ideas for their vocal work as the chorus. One is a variation on a game called “Orchestra” (Bananas). The teacher acts as “conductor” soliciting sounds from the group. These may be bits of the lines or sound effects. Once everyone has chosen a sound to make, the conductor points to students, activating them one at a time. The conductor establishes hand signals which can be used to vary the rate and the dynamics. The conductor can bring in one voice at a time or bring in more and more voices. Lots of students like taking the role of conductor, so be sure to give opportunities for changing the leader.

A way for you to develop staging ideas is by making the prologue into a round. Go through it once line by line then begin again layering the parts in. To make this game more physical and to help direct the focus, students can move down stage center as they say their lines, moving upstage as they repeat it. You can take some of the movement the students created in “Pass the Movement” and the sounds they created for “Orchestra” and include it in your staging.

The rest of Howard’s script for Antigone gives very specific direction for staging. If you wish to direct the whole play, she has spelled out how to do so. If you wish to use the script but create your own staging with your students you may want to establish a way of rehearsing and developing the staging which provides structure for students. Responses to work presented in class should be handled carefully. As closure is often difficult for me I prefer a discussion to end class. A critique session can provide structure after students have performed in class. Critiques can help you solidify the experience for the day and focus students towards next week’s work. Julian Schlusberg from Hamden High School uses three questions for critiques and I’ve seen them used effectively with students regardless of ability or sophistication. What did you see? What did you feel? How would you improve it? By beginning your critique sessions in this way, students are asked to respond to objective questions first. They are encouraged to tell each other about things that actually happened which keeps the discussion positive. By the time they are invited to make suggestions for improving the work, the performers feel fairly confident that they did something meaningful and may be more open to constructive criticism.

The next text I will use in class is an adaptation of three scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act I scene ii, Act III scene i, and Act V scene i) by Coleman Jennings and Aurand Harris found in their collection Plays Children Love Vol. II. One of the subplots in A Midsummer Night’s Dream involves a group of local tradesmen rehearsing a classic Roman myth in the woods. The first scene begins before a rehearsal, contains a run-through, and ends with an artistic debate about how to end the interlude—with an epilogue or a dance. Shakespeare made use of these bumpkins enacting the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe to create a comedic situation and to illustrate a form of entertainment known as an interlude. During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, interludes formed the link between the liturgical miracle plays and the secular Elizabethan comedies. (Benet 483) An interlude was a short skit based on a classical myth presented between courses at a feast. In this scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream Peter Quince has been asked to prepare some entertainment for the Duke’s wedding day feast.

Shakespeare tells us see how a play might have been produced in Elizabethan times in this scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Begin by asking students to find theater words in the script. Peter Quince is the producer and director. Instead of building sets, he casts actors to portray the moon and the wall. He tells the lion to make up his lines extempore, they can be roared. In Quince’s prologue he warns the audience that they are about to see “a lamentable comedy”. We find some of the stereotypical actor types, there’s Bottom who believes that he can play all the parts himself. There’s Snug who’s a frightfully slow study. These scenes are chock full of references to the life of theater artists and your students should have a good time playing the parts after this discussion. Once students have rehearsed and are ready to present their work to the rest of the class, you could, as Dorothy Heathcote might suggest, go into role as Hamlet and give his advice to the Players speech to set the mood and to show students that Shakespeare was very particular about how he wanted actors to perform his plays.

Students learn about contradictory character traits by playing these scenes in which they portray non-actors getting ready to rehearse, then non-actors playing their characters. Point out the way in which Shakespeare adds complexity to the characters by giving them two opposing traits. The role of Thisbe is often played by an actor who is very large and masculine in appearance. Bottom, who literally turns into an ass later in the play, combines eagerness to act lots of roles with lack of skill and sensitivity.

After reading through the scenes, you might begin a discussion by asking students if any of the characters in this scene reminds them of characters they know from situation comedies on television? In what ways? What are their personalities like? How do they solve their problems? How are they related to each other? What do these characters do for a living? What might a typical episode be about? The teacher can point back in television and film history to comic characters who were popular like the Marx brothers, the three stooges, Lucy, and the characters from “Three’s company” to illustrate the episodic nature of comedy. Activities could include writing an episode for some of their favorite characters and acting it out, or students could create their own situation comedy show by inventing the characters and starting from scratch.

This warmup activity is great for developing physical comedy. The students stand in a circle. One student begins to walk—just walk—around and around. As we see some personal trait of the individual’s walk, we say it aloud and they exaggerate it. Soon the student is walking in a tremendously funny way. Each student who wants to, takes a turn. Points to emphasize: When you think you’re not creating a character you still have some ways of behaving “uniquely”. Each of us has physical traits which can be exploited for comedic effect. The ancients used masks and colthurni to reach the eyes of their audiences who might have been seated one hundred yards away. In the theater we need to make movement large and economical. Some students will do this naturally and can be used to exemplify this point to the other.

If you are more comfortable beginning more simply, start by building traits one at a time. Ask students if they know what the masks for comedy and tragedy look like. Can you make that face? Ask students to make a face which communicates a personality trait, the others must guess what it is. As students come up with ideas write them on little pieces of paper and throw them into a hat. Students can choose one and perform a simple task as that character. Example: eating a banana, waiting for a bus, or making a sandwich. Julian Schlusberg, who has created many exercises for acting asks students to prepare a scene portraying a personality trait at three different ages in the character’s life.

Encourage students to express the trait with their whole body, not just their voices or their faces. The Italian word “lazzi” dates back to Medieval times and describes a stock piece of humor. Ask students to perform a bit of lazzi showing fear, anger, love, or hunger. Remind students about circus clowns who exploit some physical or emotional trait and exaggerate it. Fatness, shortness, poor eyesight or sneezing, each of these might be a clown’s signature. In the characters of the commedia dell’arte, contradictory traits such as bravado and temerity, flirtatiousness and clumbsiness, snobbishness and a tendency to giggle might be the signature traits of the stock characters the audiences loved. Draw students’ attention to the improvisational nature of this early form of theater. Tell them about the actors who traveled about in wagons like gypsies, playing the same towns across Europe year after year. Describe what it was like when these actors arrived, how the whole village turned out to see what their favorite characters were up to this time. The actors from the commedia dell’arte period played the same characters so often that they could improvise on the spot and welcomed the audience’s suggestions.

The second scene of our adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins with a run-through of the play. Again, I urge you to read the prologue aloud. Questions for discussion might include, What do we learn from this speech? What is the conflict in this situation? What are each of the mythical characters’ objectives? What is the unforeseen circumstance? Where is the emotional climax of the story?

Look for the poetic elements in this monologue. Questions could include: Is this speech funny? Why? Are there places where sounds repeat? Students will enjoy finding the alliteration in this speech. An activity which students find challenging is a game in which the teacher acts as the leader standing in the center of a circle of students. He/she tosses a ball to a student and gives them a letter, for example—“s”. The student must pass the ball and come up with five words starting with the letter “s” before the ball gets back to him/her. Proper names can not be used. Another activity which is fun involves students writing sentences which use one letter or sound as many times as possible. The results are often poetic as well as amusing. The prologue rhymes on the ends of lines and there is a rhythm to the speech. Let students try saying portions of the speech. Perhaps some of them will want to learn it by heart. Memorization and speaking in unison satisfying for students and it is a wonderful warmup activity, focusing concentration and positive feelings in the classroom.

To introduce one of the poetic forms found in Shakespeare’s plays I have included a lesson plan on sonnets. Begin with a discussion of the Oral tradition. Questions might include: Is there someone in your family or household who is a good story teller? What makes him/her entertaining to listen to? Returning to the text, you can point out the meter and rhyming couplets in the prologue and in Thisbe’s speech. Urge students to recite a line or two. Ask students why Shakespeare might have written these lines to rhyme? Tell them that he often gave his royal characters verse to speak while his servants and lower class characters did not rhyme. What is the advantage of metered speech? Write a line from the prologue on the board and mark it for stressed and unstressed beats. Give them examples of an iam. Examples are underlined: Here’s a todo to die today at a minute or two to two.

Many eighth grade students are familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet and will see the comparison between those two star crossed lovers and Pyramus and Thisbe. Begin with a discussion of the plot of Romeo and Juliet, then hand out copies of the sonnet from Act I scene V to illustrate the form of a 14 line Shakespearean sonnet. After discussing the meaning of the poem, point out the quatrains and the rhyming couplet. Ask students to write a quatrain and a rhyming couplet. If you think they can handle the challenge, ask students to write a complete sonnet. I have included a work sheet I used for this lesson at the end of my unit.

To begin the transition from the study of comedy to that of tragedy ask students to think about the similarities and differences between the stories of Pyramus and Thisbe and Romeo and Juliet. One might wonder at Shakespeare’s choice of Pyramus and Thisbe, the story of a classic case of bad timing, as an occasion for comedy. This is the story of two lovers whose eager desire to meet surreptitiously ends tragically. They arrange a midnight rendez-vous at the foot of the white mulberry tree near the tomb of old Ninus. Being the more punctual of the two, Thisbe waits alone when a lion happens along and sees her as supper. She makes a narrow escape, losing a piece of her clothing in the process. When Pyramus arrives he finds Thisbe’s scarf, smeared with blood. Thinking her dead, he kills himself. Thisbe returns, finds Pyramus’s body, and kills herself as well. (Benet 803)

Discuss the difference between inner and outer conflict. This is also a way of differentiating between the themes found in comedy and tragedy. Comedy is often based on conflicts which do not involve inner struggle, such as mistaken identity, physical obstacles, conflicting desires between characters. In tragedy, the characters wrestle with themselves or with forces beyond their control. What has Shakespeare done to make Romeo and Juliet a tragedy? Point out the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt as the moment when Romeo’s fate changes and the play becomes tragic. An interesting activity involves dividing the students into three groups. One group is Romeo, a second is Juliet, and the third is Friar Laurence. Each group must decide what the lovers should do given the circumstances. When each group presents their solution to Romeo and Juliet’s problem, the discussion can get pretty lively.

A creative writing activity which proved to be very successful with a group of students who were studying Romeo and Juliet involved the writing of a letter. We determined what information had to be included in a letter from Friar Laurence to Romeo. He must tell him about the staged death of Juliet. Students were encouraged to be artistic visually as well a literally and a few burned the edges of the paper or used fonts on their computers that were particularly ornate. The words they chose and the grammar they used were accurate and imaginative. They had listened well and recreated some of the poetic style of Shakespeare’s writing in their letters. This same group did the sonnet lesson and some succeeded, but this letter exercise allowed for more individuality and consequently, more students created exciting work.

Students may not know that Shakespeare rarely created his own stories for his plays. A good edition of Shakespeare’s plays such as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, edited by William Aldis Wright, will include historical notes which describe the sources on which Shakespeare based his plays. According to Wright, Shakespeare probably used Golding’s translation of Ovid’s version of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe which appeared in Metamorphoses, fifteen books of legends which describe the history of the world from chaos to the glorification of Julius Caesar.

Students love the Franco Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet. When I saw it recently, I was surprised at how many small details had been changed in order to simplify the story and make it more entertaining. It would be unfortunate to see the video replace the reading of the play, even an adaptation, but it is beautifully made and can be a nice reward to students at the end of a unit on the play. It is 138 minutes long. Other alternatives are audiotapes of productions of Shakespeare’s plays and the series of all of Shakespeare’s plays produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the early 1980’s. The Shakespeare Series is available for on sight viewing at the Yale Film Studies Center on Crown Street. These tapes can not leave the campus, but it is possible to bring students to the Film Studies Center or to arrange another sight on campus and view the tapes there.

To summarize, I have tried to divide this unit into three areas. I began by recreating the basic elements of dramatic structure by each writing their own prologue. Students began to act as members of the chorus. Next we explored comedy as students created their own characters. Students became actively involved with theater production and structure as they improvised. Finally, students developed their abilities to write dramatically and poetically using a variety of forms. By reminding students that the Greeks and Shakespeare were not so different from the playwrights and screen writers of today I hope they will find themselves feeling like detectives, watching for clues, linking the past to the present.


I. Objectives

Students will: Walk the areas of the stage.
Be introduced to theater vocabulary.
Read aloud.
Discuss the scene they read.

Focus for discussion.

Vocabulary words for today’s lesson.
playing areas director character script
stage directions setting

Questions for today’s discussion.

Where does this scene take place? (setting)
What happens in scene one? (character, script, director)
What does the director tell the actors? (stage directions)



Draw playing area on the blackboard. (next page)
Ask two students to mark a large square on the floor with tape.
Ask for volunteers to stand down stage center, upstage right etc.
Give them a ball.
Ask them to call a position and toss the ball to the student standing in the position they’ve called, if the student makes an error by calling the wrong position when tossing or by not recognizing the position he/she is in when its called, the student steps out and another student takes his/her place.
Play until everyone has had a turn.

Pass out scripts

Ask for volunteers to read.

Read through scene one.

Discuss the first three questions.

Change readers if necessary and read through scene one again.

Materials—chalk, black board, ball, scripts.


(figure available in print form)


I. Objectives:.

Students will: Be introduced to theater vocabulary.
Read aloud.
Move about as they improvise a scene.

Focus for discussion.

Vocabulary words for today’s lesson.
monologue dialogue prologue exposition improvisation

Questions for today’s discussion.
What is happening in this scene?

How do we know this? (monologue, prologue)

What clues can we find in this speech? (exposition)

What is the play Pyramus & Thisbe about?


Set up chairs in a circle. Ask students to volunteer to tell a story about something exciting, strange or scary that has happened to them. Tell them that they have one minute to tell their story. After two or three students have told stories, choose two or three elements from the stories you’ve heard (character, event, circumstance) and tell the group that they will be making up a story, ONE WORD AT A TIME, in a circle. Go around the circle a couple of times.


Pass out scripts. Read the prologue aloud to the students. Discuss questions listed above. Ask for volunteers to act out the story of Pyramus and Thisbe by improvising the action and the dialogue. Act as the narrator and guide them through the story. Go back to the script and try reading it through giving students the roles to read.

Materials—Annabelle Howard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream scripts.


I. Objectives
Students will: Be introduced to theater vocabulary.

Move about creating a character.

Discuss physical comedy.

Focus for discussion.

Vocabulary words for today’s lesson.
characteristics traits lazzi commedia dell’arte episode

Questions for today’s discussion.

Choose a comic character from television and tell us what makes that person funny to you.
Are there ways in which other people find you funny?
What do you find funny?


Ask students to stand in a circle, begin walking slowly around and ask students to tell you if there is something they notice about the way you move which you might be able to exaggerate. When they find something, keep walking but emphasize the trait. As soon as a student wants to take a turn, allow him/her to replace you. Encourage as many of the students as possible to take a turn. Sit down and discuss questions.

In the middle ages, troupes of actors traveled about. When they presented their plays they knew their own characters traits so well they improvised. They created new stories, or episodes for their characters. This form of improvisational theatre is called commedia dell’arte.

Read through scenes one and two again. Ask students to choose a part and to choose a trait for their character. Again you will act as narrator and ask students to improvise. Go through both scenes reviewing the vocabulary words and ideas. Run through both scenes a second time asking those students who watched to find a part to play. They might choose to be spectators, trees, or to take a role this time through.

Materials—Annabelle Howard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream scripts.


Materials  Book of sonnets, work sheet on Sonnets.

Procedure  Today’s lesson deals with sonnets.

Part I: Ask students to move their desks into a circle. When they have completed this and are seated ask them to sit in order of their birthdays. January would begin on the left to December 31st furthest right. Pass out work sheet as they complete this task.

Part II: Recite the prologue from Romeo and Juliet.

Questions: Who is “old desire”?
What does this poem describe?

What do you notice about the form of this piece of writing?

Do you see a pattern?

Look at the ends of the lines, do you notice anything now?

Identify for students the rhyme scheme, quatrain, and rhyming couplet. Define verse meter, iambic, stressed, unstressed syllables. Use example on board and demonstrate how to mark stress and unstressed beats.

Part III: Ask students to work with a partner and mark the sonnet (Act II sc. ii) on the back side of the work sheet. Mark the rhyme scheme, quatrains, couplets, and iambic pentameter.
Allow fifteen minutes for this work to be completed.

Part IV: Each pair of students will recite a pair of lines and stressing the iambic pentameter. Go through the sonnet as many times as necessary in order to give everyone a turn. (Take volunteers to begin. With any oral work it’s best not to try to force students to perform in front of others).

Objectives  The student will:

-Be able to identify the terms iambic pentameter, rhyming couplet, Shakespearian sonnet, quatrain, verse, stressed, unstressed syllables, beats.
-cooperate with another student by accomplishing a task together.
-interpret the meaning of a sonnet.
-recite lines of a sonnet.

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Sonnet Worksheet

Part I

Please read through this sonnet (Act II, scene ii) and mark the rhyme scheme, the quatrains, the rhyming couplet and the stressed and unstressed beats of iambic pentameter.

Rom. If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

Jul. Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,

Which mannerly devotion shows in this;

For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

Rom. Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

Jul. Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

Rom. O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do!

They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

Jul. Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.

Rom. Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.


[Enter Chorus.]

Chor. Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,

And young affection gaps to be his heir;

That fair for which love groaned for and would die,

With tender Juliet matched, is now fair.

Now Romeo is beloved, and loves again,

Alike bewitches by the charm of looks;

But to his foe supposed he must complain,

And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks.

Being held a foe, he may not have access

To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear,

And she as much in love, her means much less

To meet her new beloved anywhere;

But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,

Temp’ring extremities with extreme sweet.


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Arnott, Peter, The Theater in Its Time, An Introduction, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1981. This book is out of print, but it is available in the Cross Campus Library. It is a very readable source for information about theater history.

Carlson, Marvin and Shafer, Yvonne. The Play’s the Thing An Introduction to the Theatre. New York: Longman, 1990.

This book begins each era with a three column time line: Theater, Culture and History. A prose section follows and eight of the chapters conclude with a narrative account of what the experience of going to a play during that time period was like. An excellent reference for very current theater events as well though it is expensive at $33.95 in soft cover.

Coger, Leslie Irene. Readers Theatre Handbook. Glenville Illinois:. Scott Foresman and Company, 1967. This book has lots of practical suggestions for sources and ideas for staging dramatic readings.

Gassner, John Ed. and Quinn, Edward, editors. The Reader’s Encyclopedia of World Drama. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1969. This is an excellent reference book. Particularly useful were descriptions of eras and concepts in the theater.

Grenough, Millie, Barry Marshall, Linda McGuire, Kelley O’Rourke, Paul Spector. Bananas and Fifty Four Other Varieties, a book of activities to do with kids. Booklet funded by U.S. office of Education, Title VII Emergency School Aid Act, Board of Education, City of New Haven, 1980. Created by local teachers, this little soft cover book contains a number of fun games. The directions are easy to understand.

Spolin, Viola. Improvisation for the Theater. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. 1963. This book is essential to many new teachers of theater. Spolin’s games provide activities which explore the Who, What and Where.

Tchudi, Steven and Mitchell, Diana, Explorations in the Teaching of English, New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1989. This book was the primary textbook in Yale’s Teacher Preparation Program for the teaching of English. It’s full of practical ideas, contains lists of materials, and is easy to read.

Vaughn, Jack A. Drama A to Z A Handbook. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1978. A terrific source for easy to read definitions of basic theater terminology. Contains a chronology of dramatic theory and criticism and a list of suggestions for further reading.

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Chute, Marchette. An Introduction to Shakespeare, New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1979. Published by the Scholastic Press division of Dutton, this is a very readable, slim book which students will find helpful. Good biographical information written in a story book style.

Howard, Annabelle. Classroom Classics, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, New York: Classic Theater for Schools, 1986. This is one in a series of classic plays adapted for secondary school students of the Theater. The director’s editions includes suggestions for all aspects of a school production as well as classroom activities.

Howard, Annabelle. Nutshell Classics, Antigone, New York: Classic Theater for Schools, 1987.

Jennings, Coleman A. and Harris, Aurand, editors Plays Children Love Volume II, A treasury of contemporary and classic plays for children, New York: Saint Martins Press, 1988. This book contains the scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a dozen other scripts based on well-known stories.

Kamerman, Sylvia E., editor Children’s Plays from Favorite Stories, Boston: Plays Inc. 1970. Another collection of fifty stories made into plays. An excellent source for short plays with productions notes listing props, setting suggestions and lighting ideas.

Lamb, Charles and Mary. Tales of Shakespeare, Great Britain: Chancer Press, 1983. This edition is new, but was written many years ago. Contains narrative versions of all of Shakespeare’s plays including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.

Schonfeld, Julie. Romeo and Juliet, New York: Classic Theatre for Schools Publishers, Nutshell Classics, 1987. (see note for Howard, Annabelle).

Vaughn, Jack A. Drama A to Z A Handbook. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1978. A terrific source for easy to read definitions of basic theater terminology. Contains a chronology of dramatic theory and criticism and a list of suggestions for further reading.

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Block, Haskell, M. and Shedd, Robert G. editors, Masters of Modern Drama, New York: Random House, 1969. A very complete selection of important plays from each major era with introductory notes.

Brockett, Oscar G., The Essential Theatre Fourth Edition, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1988. A good comprehensive textbook with a lot of good pictures and graphics. The book is divided into three sections: foundations, varieties of theatrical experience, and theatrical production.

Clark, Barrett H. European Theories of the Drama, with a supplement on the American Drama, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1965. Another interesting source for reading about particular time periods. It is out of print unfortunately.

Johnson, Liz and O’Neill, Cecily (Ed.), Dorothy Heathcote, Collected Writings on Education and Drama, London: Century Hutchinson, Ltd., 1984.

Kirby, E.T. editor, Total Theatre, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1969. A collection of criticism by important living writers who have published their ideas about the theater elsewhere.

Novak, Elaine Adams, Styles of Acting, A Scenebook for Aspiring Actors, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1985. This book supplies many practical ideas about how to talk to students about acting. It is divided up by time periods and the writing is easy to understand.

Sheehy, Helen, All About Theatre Second Edition, Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts: Independent School Press, 1981. Another book which you might consider as a possible textbook for your students.

Siepmann, Katherine Baker, Ed. Benet’s Third Edition Reader’s Encyclopedia. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1987. I found myself consulting this reference book more than any other. It is chock full of useful information.

Wright, William Aldis, editor. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the Cambridge Edition Text. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1936. This edition includes all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Each play includes a synopsis and historical data describing the sources Shakespeare used to create each play.

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Contents of 1991 Volume IV | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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