Double Double: The Blues
This lesson is probably the most fully realized piece of theater
that I do with the class during the teaching. I put students in
groups and asked them to interpret the "Double, double, toil and
trouble" scene any way that they would like. One group did it as
a blues song and I was struck by how well suited the words and
the rhythm of the words are to the blues. I’ve used this
approach in many other classes over the years. I’m not surprised
that in their interviews, the students said that this was the most
memorable activity that we did.
I feel like this moment is representative of several others in
this unit, because it emphasizes a notion that students don’t
have to revere Shakespeare, that they can play with him.
This activity actually happened the first time when I taught
at my former school, Simon Gratz. The kids got in groups
and they got to redo that scene any way they wanted. One
group did it as a blues, and set it on a moonlit night in the South
when it was hot.
In this video clip, I
was recreating something that my former students had created,
emphasizing the idea that it could be performed, that you could
change the context but still have the human
meaning. They work to add the music, and in their group work,
they show that it's collaborative. I feel that this clip
shows how I try to give particular people the opportunity to
shine who don’t
always have a chance to shine in English class because they have
other talents. Like
the girl who sang. English isn’t her thing, but theater
and music are, so this provides for a variety of ways in
which different students can bring their talents to class.