"The story of Cymbeline is elaborate, complicated, and farfetched even for an Elizabethan play; and it includes nearly every ingredient known to melodrama. The central theme concerns a young and innocent girl, married for true love, who is harassed by a wicked step-mother, ill-treated by her father, pursued by a hated and boorish brute, falsely accused of unchastity, forced to flee in disguise as a boy, befriended by savage mountaineers (who are natural gentlemen and turn out to be her long-lost brothers), and finally triumphantly restored to her repentant husband. In addition, we are given such stock items as a faithful servant, a good doctor, a penitent villain, heroic Britons, chivalric Romans, battle scenes, a prison scene, ghosts, music, abundant moralizing, drugs which produce the appearance of death, a severed head, and even the convenient birthmark - a "sanguine star" - by which the lost heir is at last recognized and restored."
G.B. Harrison, The Complete Works of Shakespeare
The play in 12 weeks:
Read Cymbeline from Tales from Shakespeare
Draw Character list
Read Act I, Scenes 1-2
Read Act I, Scenes 3-5 - Act II, Scene 1 (edit, omit parts or skip scenes 4 & 6)
Read Act II, Scenes 2-4 (edit, omit Iachimo's speech or skip scene 2; edit or omit scene 4)
Read Act II, Scenes 5 - Act III, Scene 3
Read Act III, Scenes 4-5
Read Act III, Scene 6 - Act IV, Scene 1
Read Act IV, Scene 2
Read Act IV, Scenes 3 - Act V, Scene 3
Read Act V, Scene 4
Read Act V, Scene 5
Arrange an informal play
- Reading first from the Tales from Shakespeare version, is completely optional; but very helpful. Based on this pre-reading, a sketch of characters can easily be drawn up. If this step is skipped, the initial sketch could be started, then revisited and elaborated as the play develops and new characters are introduced. Having established a familiarity with the storyline allows for better understanding, as well as adds to the facility of editing or skipping scenes, when appropriate, as may be necessary when reading from the original.
- Pre-read. Edit, omit and skip scenes in accordance with students maturity level.
- Print copies for each student (or a kindle copy), a minimum of six per classroom (there aren't usually more characters than that per scene).
- Divide up parts ahead of time, according to skill level. A smaller part can be given to a less skilled reader, such as Narrator (reads, characters enter and exit scenes, as well as introducing the setting for the scenes). This can be done 15 minutes before :)
- Listen to the audio version (see librivox) of the specific scenes to be read on a day before reading aloud, if desired, to maintain short lessons.
- Follow up by watching the BBC video version of the play (when appropriate or applicable).
- If students are interested, over the following term, the play could be made into a performance, with memorized parts, costumes and full set.