I have to preface this section with a disclaimer: Every good idea I have ever had about Shakespeare has come from the Folger. So, here is a link to their lesson materials. They really emphasize doing Shakespeare "on your feet," and I have gotten a lot of ideas from their Shakespeare Set Free book series. The idea of acting companies came from them; I just adapted it to fit my class.
So, when class began, I told students that they were going to be put into "acting companies" and they would be choosing a scene to enact. [Before class started, I spent a while forming the groups. I made sure that all of my alpha females were separated, and I split up my playful groups of boys. I also tried to make sure that there was no group comprised entirely of introverts. Like I said, it took a while. I also "appointed" directors for the purpose of keeping the groups on track.]
I explained to them that they had to work together to choose a company name, select a scene, and decide who would play the parts. I put a "think about" list on the SmartBoard so the students could make sure they did what they needed to do.
Since the final product was scheduled to be performed in a week, the students got down to work.
The students took a long time to choose their names and select their scenes. The names they chose were silly, but fun (Milkshakespeares, Shakespearmints.) As they chose scenes, they put up their names and their selected scenes.
When I introduced the activity, I told the students that there was ONE rule: everyone must participate. So, they had to really think about how to use their "talent." I had some concerns about this piece, because I wanted the activity to be fun and challenging for everyone. I worried that students would choose small parts just to avoid memorizing a lot of lines (thus sticking their classmates with the challenging texts,) but it seemed like it worked out fine. Luckily, in an honors class, there are a lot of hams, so they don't mind learning some extra lines in exchange for more time on stage.