We’re reading and performing the play Hamlet together as a class, and many of you are doing a wonderful job of injecting some personality and character into your performances of your roles, versus simply reading out lines. It’s important, too, to watch it performed by actors who have studied it and have their own interpretations of how the characters would behave.
Remember, Hamlet is meant to be viewed as a live performance.
There are several options below for watching a multimedia version of Hamlet. Things to consider in making your choice:
They are of different lengths, so if you choose one that’s longer, you may be committing to finishing viewing it at home on your own personal time. It also might be that you would enjoy the longer one more, so it’s worth that extra commitment to you.
The play was intended to be performed live. Watching the live performance may seem more authentic to how it would have been originally received in Shakespeare’s time. And Benedict Cumberbatch is a pretty hot looking Hamlet. 🙂
You may prefer one actor over another. Kenneth Branagh and Mel Gibson are both well known for their portrayals of Hamlet, though one happens in a more recent modern setting and the other happens in a more medieval castle type setting. Lots will go into your choice.
Enjoy, though! This should only reinforce what we’ve already been reading together of the play.
And note: I’m encouraging you to watch in your video choice only as far as we have currently read. If you watch beyond that, you’ll still follow along with us in our performance of the play in class.
Performed January 2017 – Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet, performed on stage in front of live audience but with moving cameras. This is a great production to watch, because you can hear the audience laugh during the comedy lines. It was recorded and broadcast to Movie Theaters across the UK.
Studying any Shakespeare text is a challenging task. The texts were written 400 years ago in a different time, different culture, with different gender roles and a different context. For us, it isn’t that we try and are able to read the original or modern translation of the text on a first try; for us, it’s more important that we understand the storyline and the different connections we can make between the play and our own world and lives.
For that reason, you’re going to “get to know” Shakespeare and the play of Hamlet before we read it. Understanding the basics of plot and expectations of Shakespeare plays in advance will make reading through the play go much easier and our conversations can be of a deeper topic, like motivations of characters, development of conflicts, and more.
With a partner or on you own, do some online research and learn about each of the following elements of the writing/author listed below. You’re expected to write out by hand what information you find and collect from online, since handwriting leads to longer-lasting memories and understanding.
Why is he still so popular in modern times and today? How is he represented by our mass media?
Why is he still taught in schools, when there are so many other great authors and texts that have been developed in the last 400 years?
Are William’s stories original or copies of other people’s existing stories?
Most significant/unique features of his writing?
What is the format of a Shakespeare drama – a five act play?
Was Shakespeare a single person? What evidence is there that he was multiple people?
Even in the tragedy plays, like Hamlet, there is always a comedy element. What is the purpose for this?
What was believed at the time, 400 years ago, of ghosts and their use in plays? What did they represent?
The play Hamlet
What interesting facts or trivia can you find of this play?
What types of modern retellings of the play are there? For example, are there movies that are based on this plot/story but altered a bit? What are they? Ex: The Lion King
This play is a classic Elizabethan Tragedy Play – what are the characteristics of this?
Characters of the Play – (you can make a concept map or chart for these responses)
What two family groups are there in the play?
What characters are neutral – loyal to both sides of the family feud?
Who are the main characters? Secondary characters?
Are there any archetype or stock characters in this film? Identify a few.
What makes a tragic hero?
How are women typically represented in Shakespeare’s plays? How do they typically die and what does that say of how they were considered at the time?
What was the purpose or role of “madness” used in Shakespeare’s plays?
What themes exist in the play?
What is the plot of the play? How do things develop, become more complicated, and then are resolved? (Note – you might decide to avoid learning the final outcome of the play, to naturally enjoy it as we read/perform it.)
Develop five questions you are left with now that you hope to have answered by the time we’ve performed and read the play.
Your next assignment is to select a poem of appropriate difficulty level and at least 15 lines and to dramatically perform it for the class. To help you get a sense of poems that would be suitable for this assignment, I’m going to give you a few links of ones that would work well for your choice.
The Lumineers – the lead singer, Wesley, mentioned his father died ten years ago and he thought he was managing that loss, until one day he needed a pair of black dress socks and went to borrow a pair from his father’s sock drawer. In it, he found a pistol – a pistol he never knew his father owned.
The following song is about that moment and his processing of that new information. He mentioned the struggle, the reality of his father’s loss then, realizing he had questions he knew could never be answered.
A question a young student might ask is “why do people write poetry” and “why do we read poetry”?
People write poetry in moments like Wesley’s, in an effort to process something important in their life.
Others then will read that poetry to help them understand their own experiences, see how others processed those difficult thoughts and emotions, and develop a wider understanding of what it means to be human and interact with others.
We also watched another video, a true exchange between two exes who still held hurt from their relationship. Does this seem like a typical type of exchange between two exes, from your experience of romantic relationships?
Some of the basics of developing the typical keyhole essay have been established for you all. We’re able, then, to focus on more advanced and specific elements of developing your essay writing. In particular, many of you can improve how smoothly a reader flows through your writing, more easily following your line of thinking between the paragraphs. To improve this, you must develop stronger transitions between your paragraphs that guide the reader through the parts of your argument and shows the connections between the paragraph ideas.
Many of you have developed a strength in writing good topic sentences.
What you must do now is develop the transitions that precede them to link one paragraph idea to the next.
Some essay samples are provided below.
They range in quality of whether they have these transitions between paragraphs. Some are basic/redundant (first, second, third), some miss these transitions entirely and only have topic sentences, while others have developed both the topic sentence and the transition to accompany it. See if you can rate them in order of basic to advanced.
Your ELA B30 course focuses on exploring World Literature from all ages and countries that explores one of two major themes:
The Search for Self (understanding ourselves)
The Social Experience (understanding others)
You’ll start it off by viewing a movie with Search Penn and Nicole Kidman. Both characters come from different backgrounds but also have many similarities. While you watch, consider how this storyline asks viewers to reflect on who we all are individually and what contributes to our sense of identity.
Before we dig into reading this great play, you did some online research to develop a pretty thorough understanding of the background, characters, plot events and other elements included in this play. Why did you do that? Because being able to understand 450 year old literature isn’t as important as being able to understand the plot elements and deeper concepts within the story itself.
The following recordings are for Ruby – it’s our review and discussion of what was found in this pre-reading inquiry searching.
We’ll be reading the play using the No Fear Shakespeare that shows the old text version beside a modern translation. You can find the link to it here. Make sure you keep track from class to class the page/website we left off from.
We’re going to have some fun! While we read through our play, Hamlet, together, we’re going to try tweeting about it as if we were observers in this community where all the tragedy unfolds. We had to work out a few procedure items to start:
Are you going to use your own personal Twitter handle or make another for this school project?
What common Hashtag are we going to use so we can all follow/see what we’re tweeting as a group? (Our answer #ktownb30)
I (teacher) had to decide if I’m going to use my own twitter handle or make a new one
We wanted to check and see if anyone else was really using #Hamlettweets and they have been, numerous classes seem to have added comments. Other teachers have had students write the tweets on paper and then the teacher tweeted them on behalf of the students. There are lots of ways to go about trying this!
Here is a collection of some of the funniest ones we saw.
Before we read the play Hamlet, you’re going to study about the play Hamlet. (Say wha?) Yes, you’re going to use the World Wide Web and do some digging and learn the secrets of Shakespeare’s most famous play, Hamlet. Shakespeare even taunts readers/viewers of the play with a famous line that dares them to “Pluck out the mystery” (3, ii). There’s one overriding question related to this play. Let’s see if you can discover it.
As you come across great resources to help explore this text, share them and I’ll add them to our collection here.
You can click on the images to open them in their respective websites.