photo of teacher

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

Where do I teach?

What are my students learning?

Teaching Practice
What's my approach?

Student Work






Professional Networks:

I developed my approach to teaching through two teacher networks: the Philadelphia Writing Project and the Philadelphia Young Playwrights' Festival.  Through PhilWP, and my work with that teacher network, I was introduced to the idea of inquiry, both teacher inquiry and inquiry as a stance in the classroom and inquiry as a way of engaging students. Through the teacher network of the Philadelphia Young Playwrights, I learned about the power of drama and playwriting. That involvement with other teachers in these networks has given me access to a nexus of teacher collaboration; they came together just in really powerful ways in my classroom when I started teaching playwriting.  But at Masterman, because I have to do them in separate contexts, the drama and English—there are ways in which what I learned in the nexus of drama and inquiry informs some of my practices in teaching English.  Particularly in teaching Shakespeare!

Professional Reading:

Some of the activities documented in this website are drawn from Shakespeare Alive, by Joseph Papp.

Cambridge School Shakespeare is a series of Shakespeare plays that have all sort of performance and drama ideas in that text for teaching it.  In each volume you have the text, but on each page in addition to notes are suggestions for engaging students in different kinds of language and performance tasks.  I don’t buy it for the class, but I have one for every Shakespeare play that I teach. I like it because the British teach Shakespeare differently.  They know it’s theater, so they teach it like theater.  And drama education is part of their K-12 curriculum.  So any teaching resources that came from England are often more performance-oriented than American ones. 

Other works that inform my teaching:

Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group. 1985.

Doyle, Clar. Raising Curtains on Education: Drama as a Site for Critical Pedagogy. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey. 1993.

Edmiston, Brian.  “Drama as Ethical Education.” Research in Drama Education. Volume.5. Number 1. February 2000. pp. 63-84.

Harris, L. and Worden, A. “How Pa. heartland went for gay rights.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. Dec.15. 2002.

Iser, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading. (pp.53-85). Baltimore and London: The johns Hopkins University Press. 1978.

Kaufman, Moises. “Into the West: An Exploration in Form.” American Theater. Volume 17. Number 5. May/June 2000. pp. 20-23.

Kaufman, Moises. The Laramie Project. New York: Dramatist Play Service, 2000.

Patterson, Nadine and Strosser, Marjorie. I Used to Teach English. Philadelphia: Scribe Video. 1993.

Pincus, Marsha. Playing With the Possible: Teaching Learning and Drama on the Second Stage.  2001.

Rosenblatt, Louise.  Literature as Exploration. fifth edition.  New York: The Modern Language Association. 1995.

Wilhelm, Jeffrey and Edmiston, Brian. Imagining to Learn: Inquiry Ethics and Integration Through Drama. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 1998.

Site last updated December 2, 2005