Can You Hear Macbeth Now?

Macbeth, act 1, scene 2 and act 3, scene 3 

Illuminated Text: TSI 2008

Click here for a Word version of this lesson plan: IlluminationLessonPlan.doc (R)

Title: Can You Hear Macbeth Now?
Plays/Scenes covered: Macbeth 1.2.1-45, Macbeth 3.3
NCTE Standards Covered: 1, 3, 4, 11, 12 

What’s on for Today and Why: This lesson will help students understand how sound can affect our understanding of a scene. By listening to the audio recording of 1.2.1-45, they will gain a sense of who Macbeth and Macdonwald are, and by creating their own versions of 3.3, they will be able to hear the murder of Banquo with new ears. This lesson is 2 x 40 minute class periods.

1.    Put the following on the board: a) Scored a goal, b) Game cancelled, c) Lost the game.
2.    Ask students to respond to each event, as a group, as if they were a crowd at a sporting event. (Do not take any questions yet.)
3.    Talk to students about why they chose the responses they did.
4.    If it has not yet come up, discuss why their reactions might be different based on which team scored the goal, made the save, or won the game; in other words, are these all positive events from all points of view?
5.    Have the class read aloud Macbeth, 1.2.1-45.
6.    Play the class the audio recording of Macbeth 1.2 (see "What You Need" below), having them note—on their texts—the vocal reactions within the audio recording—when they occurred and what they were.
7.    Discuss with the class what the reactions within the speech told the audience about the characters or events. (For example, ask why is there booing after Macdonwald, cheering for Macbeth, or thunder at one point.) Make note of the fact that not all noises are realistic, some merely exist set mood.
8.    Divide students into small groups (of at least 7 students each) and have each group read aloud 3.3 (the killing of Banquo).
9.    The students will then take the rest of the class period to decide what sound effects are necessary (all of which they will make themselves) to help the audience understand the scene. They will then need to assign roles and sound effects so every student in the group is participating (and some students can certainly be responsible for both lines and sound throughout the scene).

1.    Students should be given 15-20 minutes to review and polish their work from the day before.
2.    While students are reviewing, use the bed sheet to create a section of the classroom where student groups can stand or sit without being seen.
3.    When all groups are ready, draw numbers to determine performance order. In turn, each full group will then go behind the “screen” to do their audio performance, during which the remaining audience must put down their scripts and just focus on listening. (If the technology is available, you should record all of the performances on an audio device so students can hear what their own group sounded like as an audience member.)
4.    Following all performances, discuss with students what was most successful or least successful. What made them hear the text in a new way? Could they picture the scene as they listened? Why did individual groups make the choices they did?

What you need:
1.    The Folger edition of Macbeth (1.2 and 3.3)
2.    The audio recording of Macbeth, 1.2
3.    A large bed sheet
4.    OPTIONAL: Audio recording device

How did it go?
1.    Do students effectively understand Macbeth 3.3, based on their justification of their chosen sound effects?
2.    Do students see how effective sound—even without movement—can be, based on their ability, as audience members, to imagine the scene taking place? (You might ask students what they pictured the blocking as being, were the scene staged.)
3.    Did students acknowledge similarities and celebrate differences, based on their post-performance discussions about all of the pieces?
4.    You may choose to have each student write a one page journal entry, summarizing their experience and elaborating on one thing that worked particularly well and one thing that could have been better.

Other Examples of Audio/Visual Illuminated Texts (like the Bloody Captain's):

1) Remixing Shakespeare: Creating Audio Dramas:

2) Photo Story 3: Creating Mixed Media Drama:

3) Sample Illuminated Sonnet (audio-visual):

4) Garage Band: Audio and/or mixed media: