I’ve seen this activity done with many different audiences of students (and teachers), and it always makes me smile. The energy and creativity each participating group brings changes the activity slightly each time, adapting it to their interests and thoughts!
As seen in the opening moments of this video about our elementary outreach program, Shakespeare Steps Out, creating a physical language for a particular passage gives students the chance to make Shakespeare’s language their own:
Taking a vibrant passage like “O, grim-look’d night!” from the play-within-a-play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ask students to create a physical movement for each word and punctuation mark. For example, The students in the video above choose to crouch for the “O”s and clap above their heads for the exclamation marks.
Coming to words they’re not familiar with or unsure of, ask them what it sounds like, and about the context of the sentence it’s in to determine how to physicalize it.
This is a really fun introduction activity, and is very flexible for different classes and plays. Have you ever tried something like this in your class? How did it go?