Children's Shakespeare Festival - Year 3 Part 2
Your face is as a book where men may read strange things”
“Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it!”
“You are too full of the milk of human kindness”
“Thou… art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it”
“Was the hope drunk wherein you dressed yourself?”
“What beast was it then that made you break this enterprise to me?”
“When you durst do it, then you were a man”
“Screw your courage to the sticking place”
“What cannot you and I perform upon th’unguarded Duncan?”
We left Macbeth and Lady Macbeth on the cusp of committing their terrible deed, and returned to the encounter that unleashed the dark forces, the weird sisters. We discussed how shocking and terrifying witches would have been during Shakespeare’s time and how they are not part the ‘Great Chain of Being.’
We explored how effective live sound can be in creating dramatic tension, we created our own sound track of natural sounds such as wind, owls, tress and even witches and their families to terrify two blind folded volunteers. We discussed what effect the soundscape had, identifying any particularly effective sounds. We also circled are volunteers and moved in closer to discuss the effectives created.
Using the body
We explored a range of movements the witches might use- stretching, bending, changing direction, flowing or sudden jerky movements. Then on different parts of the body, head, chest fingers…
We then developed our moving, thinking about how our witch moves, are they always old women? Or can they change form? Are they light on their feet? Or do they slither like a snake?
Next, we moved as if casting a spell and making a potion, collecting ingredients and moving around, each time making our movements bigger. Finally, we split into groups of 6 and created our own magical dance, we shared this with our class and gave feedback.
Fair is foul and foul is fair
Hover through the fog and filthy air
Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Each group added these words to their movement sequence, thinking about how they can best use them to create a dramatic, even spooky, effect. We prepared and shared with the class, watching each group perform and reflect upon the work. What did the language make you feel as you spoke or heard it? What might these words mean?
First Witch: A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
Banquo: What are these,
So withered and so wild….
Macbeth: Speak if you can: What are you?
Second Witch: All hail Macbeth
That shalt be king hereafter!
Banquo: Speak to me…
Third Witch: Your children shall be kings
But you will not!
The witches vanish.
Macbeth: Whither are they vanished
Story whoosh 2
As a group we discussed: Do you think that the witches’ prophecy is a blessing or a curse for Macbeth? What if I told you that the play of Macbeth is itself believed be cursed? Even today, some actors do not dare to say its name, instead referring to it as ‘the Scottish play’. Why do you think that might be? Hear some suggestions. Do you remember how we talked about in the ‘Great Chain of Being’ that kings were believed to be given their power by God? It would be an act of unspeakable horror to kill a king. Elizabethans believed that if the wrong person were to become king or queen, then EVERYTHING would go wrong - crops would fail, animals would go mad and die and the country would be doomed.
We then completed another ‘story woosh’ taking on the characters and objects from the play.
Then we completed story bumps, walking to the beat and command of a drum we crouched down until our number was number (1-4) was called THOSE actors/pupils must stand and become the character(s) are describing, doing the activity you are describing. Everyone else must crouch down low (and watch what is happening), sometimes others were invited to join the ‘story’ as another character.
When Macbeth becomes king, he moves to a much bigger, more suitable castle for a king, Dunsinane. It is often described as more of a fortress than a castle. Why do you think that might be? I wonder what Castle Dunsinane is like… We are in a dark wood. The trees are very close together, the branches pressing against you, the smell of dead leaves, the taste of rain in the air. You are moving forward along a dirt path. Soon you are out in the open, the woods now far behind you. In the distance, through the twilight gloom, you can see flickering lights. Suddenly you hear a strange sound that you can’t quite identify. Was it an owl, screeching overhead? Or could it have been a human voice - a shrill and cold laugh coming from somewhere nearby? You move quickly away from the noise and towards the lights. As you move nearer you can see where the lights are coming from – a castle. Huge, thick walls, grey, cold stone. Through its windows you can see torches burning brightly - the source of the flickering lights. You go towards it….
The courtyard is full of different smells. What smells are they? you look around you can see long, narrow corridors going off to different areas and different rooms. See the corridors in your mind… they might lead you to the kitchen, the banquet hall, the throne room, the chapel, the armoury, the barracks (where the soldiers live), the bedroom chambers, the king’s chamber, the dungeon, the courtyard or perhaps the stables. In a moment you will make your way to one of these places. Which will you go to? Which is drawing you to it? Decide which corridor you will travel down and imagine your walk along it. Now stop.
On large pieces of scrap paper, we recorded our rooms, what we imagined, saw, tasted, smelt and touched. We then broke off into groups to generate lines which will be spoken out loud and have dramatic impact. It will paint a picture – the sounds, look, feel of the place where our story happens.
Today we worked in our drama witch groups to create a spell to summon Macbeth to be used in our script. We collated our ideas onto strips of paper and edited them together to include some poetic devices. We read them aloud to see if they had dramatic impact and discarded the strips that didn’t fir our criteria. Finally, we arranged our strips to create a spell.
The Butcher KING and His Fiend-Like Queen
We discussed this thought-provoking line: Taking power is the easy part, but keeping hold of it is much harder… Do you think this statement is true? Is it true for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? They have achieved their goal. He is king and she is queen. They have ultimate power. So why are they not happy?
Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that tonight “there shall be done a deed of dreadful note” and that it is best if she knows no more about it until it is done. Let’s say that after speaking these words Macbeth leaves his wife alone…
We want to ask her some questions, we have to be careful as she may cagey or cautious, we must gain her trust. But perhaps she needs to confide in someone. Let’s say that we could be that person - a confidante, if we approach her correctly. We should be prepared for the fact that she may not tell us the truth, and If we offend her with our questioning she may tell us nothing. We must remember that she is the queen!
We asked questions about her emotional state, about the deeds she had committed and about what Macbeth might be up to. This gave us new insight into Lady Macbeth we thought she was a villain now we doubt that and even started to worry for her.
Lady Macbeth: We hold a great feast tonight, to show the nobles of Scotland that we are their true king and queen. I have heard whisper that some have refused to attend. Why should that be? Macbeth is up to something and I am fearful of what may come to pass. I pray you, friends - if I may be so bold as to name you so - what should I do? We offered her advice, we agreed she must speak with her husband and get him to stop, some even suggest finding Malcolm and giving him the crown as the rightful heir.
The Banquet scene
Let’s look again, in more detail now, at one of the events that happens here within the castle walls. Macbeth has just been crowned king and he and Lady Macbeth hold a lavish banquet. They have invited the lords and nobility of his new kingdom. Perhaps he and Lady Macbeth feel the need to show the court, and the world, just how far they have risen and how powerful they are. But two things are about to happen which will ‘disturb’ their showing off. Firstly, the
murderers, who Macbeth has sent to kill his friend Banquo and his son Fleance, arrive - covered in blood - to tell Macbeth that Banquo is dead but that Fleance escaped them. Then, Macbeth sees (or thinks he sees) the ghost of Banquo sitting before him at the table. Macbeth is tormented by this vision, and Lady Macbeth is forced to try to ‘cover’ for him.
We are all the actors in the scene. I will be the director. Let’s create the banquet scene!
We froze during each scene, then added lines finally we added the repeated phrase “blood will have blood / Sleep no more! / Macbeth doth murder sleep!” We started as a whisper in between the scenes but then got louder for dramatic effect.
mage 1 - The King’s Power
• Macbeth is welcoming the Lords to the banquet
• He is trying to assert his authority
• The guests are suspicious, even scared, of him and his power. Some guests and servants dare not even look at him. How do you show how you feel with your eyes?
• They say ‘The ruled make the ruler’, which means the king’s lords and servants will show us how powerful he is by how they relate and react to him
Macbeth: “At first and last, the hearty welcome”
Image 2 - Murderers
• The murderers appear at the door
• Macbeth goes to talk with them, furious that they have chosen this moment to approach him
• The guests and servants see Macbeth whispering to them, but they daren’t be seen watching too closely
Murderer 1: “My lord, his throat is cut.”
Murderer 2: “Fleance is escaped”
Image 3 - Banquo’s Ghost Appears (this will be a big reveal so relish in the moment!)
• Macbeth sees the ghost sitting in his seat… he shouts in terror
• Everyone reacts
Macbeth (to the ghost): “Never shake thy gory locks at me!
Image 4 - Lady Macbeth Intervenes
• The ghost vanishes
• Lady Macbeth tells everyone to ignore Macbeth’s outburst, as it’s nothing to worry about
• The guests and servants try to carry on as normal
Lady Macbeth (to the guests): “My lord is often thus and has been from his youth”
Image 5 - The Ghost Returns
• Macbeth is even more terrified
• The guests Lords and servants are scared… some even rise from the table
Macbeth: “What man dare, I dare. Take any shape but that!”
Image 6 - The Banquet Ends
• Lady Macbeth tells everyone to leave at once
• They begin depart looking suspiciously and fearfully at their king
• Macbeth is rattled to his very core!
Lady Macbeth: “Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once”
Macbeth: “It will have blood they say: Blood will have blood”
Then we add a ghostly chorus inbetween each scene, starting with a whisper then getting louder.
Blood will have blood / Sleep no more! / Macbeth doth murder sleep!
Lady Macbeth 'story whoosh'
Whatever Lady Macbeth did, it’s clear that she regrets it deeply now. This is the last time we see her. Soon Macbeth will learn that she is dead. n’ her story here in the centre of the circle. We are going to summon her story Just like in our story whoosh, you must create all of the people and all of the things that are mentioned in the story. This is The Lady Macbeth Story Whoosh!
WHAT’S DONE CANNOT BE UNDONE
After the banquet scene, we don’t see Lady Macbeth for some time, and as we saw, the next time she appears she is unwell, tormented by thoughts of their terrible deeds… She is unable to rest and endlessly walks the corridors at night, scrubbing at imaginary blood spots on her hands. Enact this as you speak her words. “Out damned spot! Out I say! What will these hands ne’er be clean?”
This is the ‘corridor’ down which Lady Macbeth will walk. As she does, servants and others who live and work in the castle stop what they are doing and watch. It is as if the whole of Dunsinane is silently watching. Let’s say that these walls represent the people of the castle. What do they make of this? To see their queen consumed by dark thoughts… *Sleepwalking and sleep-talking were considered to be supernatural in Shakespeare’s time and would have been deeply unsettling.
SHE SHOULD HAVE DIED HEREAFTER
When Macbeth learns that his wife is dead he knows his plans are crumbling at his feet. On hearing the words “The queen, my lord, is dead” Macbeth says: “She should have died hereafter” … We thought about what this may mean. We then performed together using the coloured speech instructions:
THE FINAL BATTLE
As Macduff and Malcolm march 10,000 soldiers of the English army towards Dunsinane, Macbeth prepares his men for battle. Dunsinane is no longer a castle - it is a fortress. The soldiers gather in the courtyard. Through your next narration you will begin to assume roles They know that the English army are approaching, with Macduff and Malcolm leading the attack. They will arrive within hours and the castle - this very courtyard - will be the scene of a bloody battle. How do you feel about that? You know you must fight - we have no choice. It is our job, our livelihood, our responsibility. We serve the king, and it is our duty to stand firm against his enemies… but what if the enemy is within? The king has declared that we will not lose. I hear rumour that there is a prophesy that he cannot be defeated. So clear you minds, men. We must prepare for battle.
We have just received word that the English army has reached Great Birnam wood, so that they will reach the castle by nightfall. Soldiers, take up your broadswords… You will notice that the effort required of you is now much greater. You must not falter. Wield your broadsword for Scotland. What is coming will be a bitter and bloody battle. Many of us will not see another dawn. We must train hard, and we must train well. Take up your swords…
Macbeth and MacDuff come face to face, we looked at Shakespeare’s final words and unpicked them, then we re-enacted the last battle.
We finished by acting out the final scene, Malcom was crowned King of Scotland. : “Hail, King Scotland!"