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NEW:Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Henry IV

AP LANGUAGE

SHAKESPEARE UNIT:

Macbeth, Henry IV.I, Richard III

(first trimester, weeks nine through twelve)

Instructor: Jaimie Crawford

Introduction to the Unit: Many students dislike Shakespeare, and most will admit it's because “Shakespearean language” is not their own. It is dry, funny-sounding, aloof, dead, stupid, boring stuff on a page--a page which looks more intimidating than the last Calculus test they took. But Shakespeare was never meant to be read; his plays are just that: plays. Dramas to be given flesh and blood on a stage (or in a classroom). This unit attempts to address a few of the bard's tragedies and histories to utilize the internet, film, and student presentation to bring Shakespeare back to life in the twenty-first century. (The next unit will address Shakespeare's sonnets as well as other British poetry)

Time Allotment: Five Weeks

Texts: Norton's English Literature, H&B's Reading for Writers, Orgel's Vocab List; Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing (Folger's Additions)

Teaching Aids: Folger Library's Shakespeare Set Free series; Ross McDonald's Shakespeare Reread; Davis and Salamone's Teaching Shakespeare into the Twenty-First Century

Unit Structure :

Week Nine/Ten: Macbeth (online text; texts also available in class)
“Shakespeare in the Bush” (RFW p.61)

Excerpts from Polanski and Orsen Wells's films

Mon:

Meet Shakespeare;
Intro. to language and structure
Tues: “All Hail, Macbeth”
Weds: “There to Meet with Macbeth”
Thurs: “Blood Will Have Blood”
Fri: “Look Like th'Innocent Flower”
Mon: AP Writing: Macbeth Soliloquy
Tues: “There's Daggers in Men's Smiles”
Weds: “Ride You This Afternoon?”
Thurs: “Helly Is Murky”
Fri: “Out, Out Brief Candle”: Assign. 1 due
Week Three: Henry IV Part I (online text ; N. p. 482)
Mon: “What Happens in Henry?"
Tues: “A Shaken Kingdom”
Weds: “The Blood on Henry's Hands”
Thurs: “A Usurper's Shaken World”
Fri: “Speech Explication"
Mon: Henry IV on Sleep Deprivation : AP Writing
Week Eleven/Twelve: Group Shakespeare Projects
Tues/Weds: Macbeth Presentations
Thurs/Friday: Henry IV Presentations
Mon-Fri: Excerpts from Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V,
Ian McKellen's Richard III; Looking for Richard
Read Review of Looking for Richard
Mon: Unit Test on Macbeth, Henry IV, Richard III

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Group Projects; Writing Assignments:

*Due Fridays: Assignment 1 is due Friday of Week One, etc.

*Vocabulary Requirement: Chart one word in Macbeth and one in Henry IV Part I. Make a list of all the different connotations of this word/image and turn it in on the Friday we finish each play. You may access several online sources to help you trace the word in the play (Trace a Line). The most used words in Henry IV are arms, blood, brother, counterfeit, etc..; try to find a word that changes meaning by the end of the play.

*Writing Prerequisites:

a. clear thesis (read “The Thesis” by Sheridan Baker RFW p. 142)
b. logical organization (read “How to Write Clearly” RFW p. 142;

“WritingSuccessful Paragraphs“RFW p.234)
c. correct grammar (see Strunk and White Online)
d. sound sentence structure (see Strunk and White Online)
e. interest (read “How to Write Narration” RFW p. 270

“How to Write a Description” RFW p. 300)

*Essay Grading: AP rubric will be used whenever applicable.

 

Relating AP Essays: 1990 Henry IV. II: Sleep; 1992 Elizabeth to her Troops

Evaluation: 30%: AP Essays in Class; 30%: Group Projects and Writing Assignments; 20% Unit Test 10% Quizzes and Reading Comprehension; 10% Attitude and Participation TOP


Group Shakespeare Projects

You may work in a group of no more than 3 people.

To prepare, follow the DIRECTIONS below:

1. Choose one scene from Henry IV or Macbeth. No two groups may choose the same scene; they will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

2. Reread the entire act of the play from which your scene was taken.

3. Give the class a brief summary of this scene including a character sketch; plot synopsis; and the general tone and mood of the scene. Include discussion of one of Harold Bloom's ideas (Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human) as it relates to your scene .

CHOOSE 4 OR 5

4. Find a version of the scene on video (from Pine Crest video library : Mr. Williams, Blockbuster, Broward County library). Analyze the director's choice of tones, themes, styles, actors/actresses, costumes etc.. of your scene.

OR

5. Practice acting out the scene with your group--when performing for the class, be ready to discuss the actors' motivations, moods, situations, and purposes.

6. Analyze the mood, situation, motivation, purpose, style, syntax, diction, imagery, tone, etc.. of one particular monologue or dialogue in the scene.

On the day of your presentation:

1. Give the class a brief summary of the act.

2. Act out the scene (or show the scene) you are presenting. Before acting it out, discuss the character(s)' mood, situation, motivation, and purpose.

3. Analyze the dialogue or monologue's tone, diction, syntax, theme, imagery, irony, and any other literary techniques you may find.

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Assignment 1: Macbeth Speech Explication (Group)

The class will initially be divided into four groups who will work together on the following essay:

In the following soliloquies, Macbeth comments upon his current situation. In a well-organized essay, briefly summarize his thoughts and analyze how the diction, imagery, and syntax of YOUR GROUP's soliloquy helps to convey his state of mind in relation to his general character and motivation in the play.

Group 1: Act I, scene viii (“If it were done when tis done...”)

Group 2: Act II, scene i (“Is this a dagger I see before me...”)

Group 3: Act III, scene i (“To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus...”)

Group 4: Act IV, scene v (“She should have died hereafter....Tomorrow”)

After class, make a copy of your essay for each member of the group to proof and correct at home. Turn individual essays in on Friday.TOP

Assignment 2: Henry IV Speech Explication (Group)

The class will initially be divided into four groups who will work together on the following essay:

In the following monologues, Henry V (Prince Hal) comments upon his current situations. In a well-organized essay, briefly summarize his thoughts and analyze how the diction, imagery, and syntax of YOUR GROUP's soliloquy helps to convey his state of mind in relation to his general character and motivation in the play.

Group 1: Act I, scene ii (“I know you all, and will awhile uphold...”)

Group 2: Act II, scene iv (“With three or four loggerheads...”)

Group 3: Act IV, scene ii (“Do not think so; you shall not find it so...”)

Group 4: Act V,scene v (For worms, brave Percy; fare thee well, great heart...”)

After class, make a copy of your essay for each member of the group to proof and correct at home. Turn individual essays in on Friday.TOP



Review of: Looking for Richard. Dir. Al Pacino. Twentieth Century Fox, 1997.

by Kim.Fedderson@Lakeheadu.ca and Mike.Richardson@Lakeheadu.ca

1.Al Pacino's Looking for Richard opens with the words "King Richard" appearing first on the screen with the other syllables necessary for completing the title being added gradually. This device not only highlights the name "Richard III," the protagonist of the Shakespearean source for Pacino's film, it also enlists and then encourages us to search for Richard within the film. And when we go looking for Richard, we can, if we look hard, find him, but not where we had expected and, more tellingly, not where we seem to be directed to look. While it gives us innumerable glimpses of Richard--the documentary frame of the film allows us to see Richard in America, in the Cloisters, in England, at the Globe, in theatrical rehearsal and performance, in cinematic rehearsal and performance--Pacino's film, like Shakespeare's humpbacked dissembler, harbors a "secret, close intent," making Richard far more difficult to locate than his conspicuousness in the film would suggest. And once he is glimpsed, we should begin to question the film's motives. While Pacino claims that his goal is to make Shakespeare more accessible to his public, what he, in fact, does under this typically American anti-elitist and democratic ruse is to appropriate the cultural commodity that Shakespeare has become and then use it to establish American dominance within the global market in which this commodity is distributed. Pacino does this by first undermining the hold that England has had on Shakespeare's work, in effect repossessing the work, and then reforming it to his taste so that it may be marketed at home and ultimately abroad. In this cautionary tale about coming to America, Pacino not only hijacks the bard, but then he also audaciously offers him for sale back to his original owners. Indeed, it is only within the film's conflict with itself, in the division between what it actually does and what it appears to do, that the character of Shakespeare's smiling villain comes clearly into our view.

2.One of the things this film purports to do and in fact does is to provide us with an iteration of Shakespeare's Richard III. That Richard III offers a narrative comprised of four phases: 1) an initial state of sovereignty, presented as "true and just" and represented by King Edward IV, comes to an end as Edward sickens and dies; 2) this is followed by an act of legitimate succession as sovereignty passes into the hands of the legitimate heir, who because of his youth, is assigned a protector; 3) this in turn is disrupted by an act of illegitimate succession as the protector turns usurper, "subtle, false and treacherous," has the rightful heir murdered, and assumes sovereignty himself; 4) finally, the usurper is displaced and dispatched and a new legitimate sovereignty is restored. Pacino's Looking for Richard presents only a selection of scenes from the Shakespearean original, yet these scenes are carefully chosen so as to represent these major narrative phases: hence, the sickness and death of Edward IV (Harris Yulin) is enacted; the young prince inherits his sovereignty but is forced to relinquish it to the Protector (Pacino), who has his charge murdered and so succeeds illegitimately; and finally, the usurper is replaced by the new legitimate monarch, Henry Richmond (Aidan Quinn).

3.While the major phases of the narrative of Shakespeare's Richard III are represented in Pacino's selection of incidents to dramatize in his Looking for Richard, the film itself, as a totality, is as conflicted as "divided York and Lancaster." The principal source of this conflict is the film's form. Pacino, as director of the film Looking for Richard, wraps his episodic and fragmentary performances of Shakespeare's play in a documentary frame, in which Pacino, in the role of dramatized director of the film, explores how Richard III, which the film contends has become lost and mired in tradition, might be made "accessible to the people out there, the people on the street." This documentary frame contains two distinct narratives, both of which replicate much of Shakespeare's story about Richard III, but which suppress its tragic implication. The two narratives of Pacino's frame, when taken together, create an unsettling dissonance within Looking for Richard, one which should cause us to question the film's happy democratic sense of itself as a film that merely attempts to make Shakespeare's play more accessible to the American public. Like Shakespeare's character, the film may ask us to regard it as a "marv'lous proper man" (I.ii.254), but there is no mistaking that it cannot so regard itself.

4.The first of these narratives, and strongly foregrounded at that (both in the film and in its publicity, the press kit, and interviews with Pacino, so that it has become quite clear that this is what we are expected to go looking for), is a quest romance called "Looking for Richard" in which the "authentic spirit" of the play (and of Shakespeare himself), the holy grail as it were, has been lost but is found and renewed, recovered in effect, by the modern hero, Al Pacino. The keeper of the text of the play is analogous to King Edward IV and is as responsible for maintaining the currency and vitality of Shakespeare's text as the king is for maintaining peace and prosperity in the realm. Like King Edward, the traditions of performance have become moribund. The evidence for the death of the king/death of the text is presented via interviews with "the man on the street," demonstrating that the American public has, by and large, no liking for, patience with, or understanding of Shakespeare. Historically, of course, the keepers of this text have been British actors and scholars--many of whom are represented in the film. The argument, then, of the manifest narrative in the film is that, in essence, these British traditions of performance and scholarship have, like Edward IV, sickened and died, lost their power to maintain Shakespeare's vitality, leaving the artistic equivalent of a power vacuum. Pacino, the dramatized director-as-character within the film's fictional space, offers himself as the new keeper of the text, the man who can make Shakespeare accessible once again to Everyman. This aspirant, from the young nation of America, is analogous to the Princes in the Tower, the future hope for the realm. And as the young princes have backers such as Hastings (Kevin Conway), the dramatized director also has his in the form of Derek Jacobi and, especially, Sir John Gielgud. The latter is with him throughout and, most importantly, at the end of the film is presented as Pacino's protector and approving witness to his claim. (We know this convention from Star Wars: Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker--an aged Brit who is clearly a part of the tradition sanctions the passing on of the force to an American.) This story mobilizes many of the narrative elements and characters of Richard III, but employs them comedically, creating a version of Richard III in which no usurper threatens the rightful claims of the new generation.

5.Unlike this manifest narrative (the film as it wishes to be seen; the film fashioned as Richard fashions himself for Anne, to "woo" us) the second, repressed narrative is the product of a Ricardian "dissembling nature" and, like Richard himself, harbors "a secret, close intent." This buried narrative operates with no delusions about its motives. A couple of lines from the film serve as a nice gloss on its modus operandi: "The text is just a means for expressing what's behind the text" and "Irony is really only hypocrisy with style." Like the first narrative, the second one represents the British traditions of performance and scholarship as moribund; the legitimate inheritors, represented by Sir John Gielgud, Kenneth Branagh, Peter Brooks, Emrys Jones, are ineffectual. Indeed Kenneth Branagh, a powerful young Prince, exiting the film like Lear's fool, is quickly shunted offstage and Sir Ian McKellen, whose own Richard III makes him a formidable rival, is simply not mentioned at all. Pacino as dramatized director, in essence, removes or co-opts the opposition to his claims to sovereignty just as Shakespeare's Richard does, metaphorically killing off Branagh, McKellen, Trevor Nunn, Derek Jarman, Peter Greenaway, etc. He impudently installs himself within the vacancy he himself has created, offering himself as the protector/successor, the one who should command from the throne of the Globe Theatre. Like Richard, Pacino as dramatized director is an unlikely prospect for the elevation he seeks: Richard's physical and moral deformities become Pacino's less than polished accent and speech, the baseball cap worn reversed, and the generally unkempt appearance.

6.As an apparently improbable claimant to the throne, Pacino, in this narrative, must address two problems not inherent in the manifest narrative discussed above, but that are to be found in the Shakespearean original: 1) the quasi-legalistic problem of establishing the legitimacy of his claim on the Shakespearean text: By what right does the future of the Shakespearean play fall to this American actor? Where does he stand in the "proper" (i.e., obvious, expected) line of succession? and 2) the essentially political problem of winning over the public to his side, of having them shout, "The king is dead! Long live the king!"

7.On the matter of legitimacy, Pacino's solution is not unlike Richard's: Richard has Buckingham imply the bastardy of the Princes in the Tower; Pacino undermines the imputed British claim to exclusive dominion over Shakespeare by a variety of tactics. First, he argues that those with the most obvious claims are the very ones that have allowed the plays to falter. The film implies that the British tradition--both its actors and its scholars--has turned the body of the bard's play into an inaccessible, irrelevant, antiquated corpse. If Shakespeare's fortunes flag it is because of the elitist pedantry of British scholars, and the technically precise, but inauthentic and insincere, classical dramatic training of British actors. Pacino further delegitimizes the British claimants by dissociating the play from the specificity of its language. For it is in the British sway over the language of the plays, a language that is obsessively referred to within the film as an obstacle for American actors and audiences alike, that the British contenders find their strongest argument. Masterfully co-opting his opposition, Pacino gets one of the British scholarly authorities in the film to argue that "the text is just a means for expressing what's behind the text," thus legitimizing the claim that Shakespeare's essence exists separately from Shakespeare's language. Once Shakespeare can be shown to exist outside of the Englishness of his language, the corollary can then be advanced that the essence of Shakespeare may not be English at all, but could indeed be American. A homeless man, one of the many mechanicals Pacino peoples his new world with, extols the bard's virtues and his relevance to contemporary problems. Pacino himself argues that Richard is just like the American-style gangsters with whom he made his reputation. Once we get past the irksome "prithees" and "post-hastes," it turns out that Shakespeare has, in fact, been hiding out in Poughkeepsie looking for Pacino.

8.On the matter of public approbation: as Richard and Buckingham manipulate the commoners to make them cry for Richard as king, so Pacino interviews his fellow New Yorkers and foregrounds those who clearly need someone to reclaim Shakespeare for them, and then, like Richard, offers himself as the necessary successor. In this version, there is no Richmond to challenge Richard because the usurper gets away with it. He successfully eliminates his rivals by displacing Branagh, effacing McKellen, and assuming a familial coziness with Gielgud, and, finally, ascends the throne. If the play is to be reanimated, the "Barons" of Branagh and Gielgud will have to, and indeed do, pay allegiance to Pacino (while "pretenders" like McKellen apparently "flee the scene"), thus authenticating Pacino's assertion of legitimate succession. This ironic narrative offers no fifth act because the audience fails to recognize that its smiling, redeeming hero can also be regarded as its usurping villain.

9.And to do this, Pacino must pull off the improbable feat of seducing all and not be seen seducing any. The analogue for this achievement is Richard's seduction of Lady Anne (Winona Ryder): just as she is seduced into transferring her affections from her dead father and husband to Richard, their murderer, so Pacino, an unlikely Shakespearean whose American "deformities" would seem to preclude his being the last best hope of the text, asks us to accept him as the one who can save the bard for us, now that the British tradition has died off. Having pried Shakespeare loose from the British tradition of performance (a tradition which has always made Americans feel themselves culturally inferior to their former colonial masters), it can now be remade to American tastes, or more precisely, to the usurping Pacino's tastes, since the version that prevails must be his own.

10.Pacino's satisfaction at having taken Shakespeare to the people is compromised by the liberties these very same people will take with the bard's texts. Interpretations proliferate: one commoner talks about talmudic Shakespeare, another talks about a rock n' roll Lady Macbeth, and a Hamlet who's like every kid. Pacino, dismayed by the license the commoners allow themselves, complains, "You must get me out of this. It's gone too far. I want to be king." Here we see that Pacino's goal is not to bring just any Shakespeare to the people. The bard that is enthroned in majesty must be his. The scene which follows this is entitled, significantly, "Now to take the crown." And it is charged with a double resonance: it refers to Pacino as Richard taking the crown within the performance of the play, and to Pacino as dramatized director within the frame assuming sovereignty over the text. Having displaced the opposition and staked his claim to Shakespeare, Pacino is then able to repatriate the Bard. The implicit claim goes something like this: Shakespeare, having been freed from what the film claims are the ossifying traditions of British performance, is restored to his pristine essence in America, and now, in addition to being a marketable commodity able to meet foreign competition--Branagh, Luhrmann, McKellen et al.--within the domestic economy, can also be exported and marketed abroad. Thus, in the film's most deliciously vertiginous moment, Pacino installs himself center stage at Sam Wannamaker's restored Globe theatre--the new American-sponsored Euro-Shakespeare theme park--and intones the opening soliloquy of the play.

11.The frame's two narratives (the happy manifest narrative of legitimate succession and the ironic and repressed narrative of successful usurpation) taken together create a dissonance within Looking for Richard. It is within this dissonance that Pacino the undramatized narrator looks for Shakespeare's Richard: the frame's doubled narrative enacts the duplicitous split between seeming and being that constitutes Richard's character; he is both the saint of the delusionary manifest narrative and the devil of its repressed other. Richard, then, is not Pacino playing the crookbacked monarch imposter in the staged scenes, but the smiling villain, the beguiling dramatized director making the film Looking for Richard. The dramatized scenes in the film look for and find Shakespeare's play; the film itself, however, looks for and finds its titular character, and makes him a victorious usurper.

12.The implicit premise of the film--that Shakespeare's work is in need of resuscitation--is, of course, completely wrong: never before have Shakespeare's works been made so accessible to the American public--largely due to Branagh and Nunn, the imaginatively modernized productions of McKellen and Baz Luhrmann, and the experimental work of Greenaway and Jarman. The tradition is anything but ossified, and foreign Shakespeares now compete at the box office with major Hollywood productions; in short, the endeavour to persuade the American audience that the bard of tradition is dead is necessary in order to protect the domestic market from foreign competition. The key question is not whose Shakespeare, or which style of Shakespearean production, but rather who gets to keep the financial and cultural profits. If the analogy between Lady Anne and the American audience holds, Pacino/Richard's line, echoed chorically throughout the seduction scene--"I'll win her, but I'll not keep her long"--speaks volumes concerning their intentions; namely, both will move on to more profitable affairs when they have had their way with the current ones. Having legitimized himself and having seduced America with his Shakespeare, he can now return to his old standbys. Thus, he appears next in Donnie Brasco and currently in The Devil's Advocate, a film in which he finally gets to play the ultimate seducer.

13.Although on the whole the frame transforms Richard into a successful usurper and hence does not recapitulate Act V of the play in any detailed way, there is one aspect of Act V that does make an appearance and might suggest that Pacino's victory is not total. Just as in the final act of Shakespeare's play, Richard is haunted by the ghosts of all those he has slain in his rise to the throne, so the British traditions that the frame declares to be dead continually haunt Pacino's performance of the selected scenes from the play. They are, for the most part, faithful and largely derivative iterations of the text in a realistic mode la Branagh's Henry V; in dramatized performance, the baseball cap gives way to period costumes; Pacino's New York accent modulates to the mid-Atlantic; there is considerable concern that the sets be realistically correct; and Pacino's one major effort actually to rewrite the text with a view to simplifying and hence "clarifying" Shakespeare as well as asserting his own control over the script is abandoned in performance. In making Shakespeare new and accessible, Pacino gives him a very familiar and traditional face. The innovative frame notwithstanding, the film gives us none of the creative translation of the text that Luhrmann attempts in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, nor the anachronistic restaging of the story in McKellen's Richard III. As if haunted by the British "right" to Shakespeare, the colonial "pretender" Pacino must not only take him back to Britain, to the rebuilt Globe, but also must seek the approbation of the allegedly displaced rivals, and he does this by handing back to them an imitation of the implicitly denigrated "conventional" product. And, re-enacting the cultural inferiority complex that originated the entire project, Pacino wants his performance to be recognized and valued by the British and on British soil. The British "right" over the tradition haunts the colonial Pacino and he still seeks their approval. Gielgud, recalling his role of the butler in Arthur, nods approvingly at the end of the film. Despite talk of "method," of a romantic communing with the essence of the text, of sidestepping the American obsession with the language of the text which acts as barrier for American players and audiences alike, Pacino keeps "turning British" as he performs. "New," potentially censorious and hence threatening, Shakespeareans, like McKellen, are to be kept offstage. Pacino in true Ricardian fashion is less concerned with making Shakespeare accessible, or with renewing the bard for contemporary audiences, than he is with establishing his own right of succession within the tradition, with all the perquisites that that entails. But the very timidity of mounting such a conventional (though perfectly good) performance whilst surrounded in the field by many more adventuresome Shakespeareans argues for the presence of a deep-seated anxiety; perchance Pacino senses a Richmond in the wings after all.

COPYRIGHT (c) 1998 BY KIM FEDDERSON AND J.M. FEDDERSON, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.TOP

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