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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Shakespeare: Cymbeline

"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:

Week one:
Read Cymbeline from Tales from Shakespeare
Draw Character list

Week two:
Read Act I, Scenes 1-2

Week three:
Read Act I, Scenes 3-5 - Act II, Scene 1 (edit, omit parts or skip scenes 4 & 6)

Week four:
Read Act II, Scenes 2-4 (edit, omit Iachimo's speech or skip scene 2; edit or omit scene 4)

Week five:
Read Act II, Scenes 5 - Act III, Scene 3

Week six:
Read Act III, Scenes 4-5

Week seven:
Read Act III, Scene 6 - Act IV, Scene 1

Week eight:
Read Act IV, Scene 2

Week nine:
Read Act IV, Scenes 3 - Act V, Scene 3

Week ten:
Read Act V, Scene 4

Week eleven:
Read Act V, Scene 5

Week twelve:
Arrange an informal play

Helpful Notes:
  • 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.


Nancy Kelly said...

Keep us posted on how Cymbeline goes in your homeschool!  And I concur, you do a fabulous job with the CM Carnival.  


Charlotte Mason in the City said...

Of all the Shakespeare studies we have done, we've yet to read Cymbeline.

I like all your tips, and I love the use of the white board to map out the characters. I'm stealing that idea.

Thanks for everything you do for the CM Carnival, Amy!

Carol said...

Thanks for your ideas, Amy. Cymbeline is one we've yet to do & I'll be coming here when we start it!

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