We will be studying
and how the Visual Arts teacher can help enhance a student’s learning experience. My hope is that this unit will be suggestive for teaching scenes from other plays as well as for
. The graphic novel form can help students interpret plot, character, and theme through its unique lens. This paper will examine both the purpose and the specifics of having students create their own graphic novel panels using Photoshop and Wacom (electronic drawing) tablets for four scenes from the play
Among the many considerations students will address will be the fundamental question of whether “to represent or not to represent” visually. As students will discover, deciding what to leave out is just as important as deciding what to leave in. It will become helpful to suggest to students that some things are better left unseen, and that sometimes the reader’s imagination can conjure up an image that is far more powerful than any image an illustrator can create.
Shakespeare’s plays are usually seen, and thought of, as being stage productions or films. The actor on the stage, or in a film, has more opportunities to convey a visual message than the illustrator. The film actor has multiple frames of film while the illustrator has just a few graphic panels. In a stage production of
an actor who plays Macbeth can mime the dagger to help the audience imagine what Macbeth is seeing. In a graphic 2-dimensional representation of a dagger, visible to both Macbeth and to the viewer, it may be necessary to give a clearer impression.
In Kenneth Branagh’s film version of
Branagh choose to represent Hamlet’s youth during his famous “to be or not to be” speech. While Hamlet is speaking to Yorik’s skull Branagh runs images of Hamlet, as a child, playing with the court jester. Is this the best decision or would this have been better left to the imagination? Most people are capable of envisioning of happy childhood as well as what Yorik might have looked like.
Students will closely consider the importance of visual clues to the reader: These clues are the result of key questions each student must ask. For example, students may speculate on the issue of mood and atmosphere created through shading and lighting: How may a certain sense of mood and atmosphere be conveyed? The same scene with different lighting can look dramatically different. Character expressions are another consideration: Will the panel be an extreme close-up view? A face in shadow? An overhead view? How will each frame convey emotions? These considerations and others make up the challenge as well as the reward of the unit.