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Double Double, Toil and Trouble:
Engaging Urban High School Students in the Study of Shakespeare

Marsha R. Pincus
J.R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Whose English? Getting Students into the Language of Shakespeare Shakespeare's Blues: Making Personal Connections to Macbeth Interrogating Macbeth: Crafting a Literary Analysis

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Double Double: The Blues

Double Double: The Blues
Students interpret the "Double Double" scene as a blues song.
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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.




Site last updated February 21, 2006