Performing Recitations of Antony's Speech (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT demonstrate understanding of Antony's rhetoric and Shakespeare's language by reciting a key passage and explaining it through question and answer.

Big Idea

Today is the day to put the finishing touches on student recitations to see how their analysis of the speech and use of movements to memorize strengthen their recitations.

Rubric for Performance

15 minutes

Rubric.  I will introduce the students to the shakespeare recitation contest rubric developed by the National Shakespeare Recitation contest (link to contest site).  The purpose of the link is to help students to know and understand some of the factors that will affect their performances (SL.9-10.4).


I will ask: 

1.) What does it mean to have a confident posture?  Why is this appropriate for Antony's speech [he is facing a hostile audience at first, and he must hold his ground before turning their alliances toward his cause]?

2.) Why is it important to vary your vocal patterns?  How can you do this meaningfully?  For example, how might you say, "He was a friend to me..."?  Concentrate on drawing out the vowels in order to add emotion.   

Continue Antony's Speech and Recitation Motions

20 minutes

Rehearsal.  First, we will rehearse our running jig, a series of movements that accompany Antony's funeral oration.  

Friends, Romans, countrymen, [hand up to the ear after gesturing widely to the right and left] lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar [shovel dig], not to praise him [pat the mound with the shovel].

The evil [devil horns] that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones [rub forearms to gesture bones];

So let it be with Caesar [two hands, pushing forward]. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious [sort of a swag curtsy move]:

If it were so, it was a grievous [hands plodding like a dastardly villain]  fault,

And grievously [hand plodding mockingly like a mock dastardly villain]  hath Caesar answer'd it.


Adding Motions.  Next, we will add motions for the remaining parts.  I have selected four students in advance to do this and have let them know the key words in their sections (underlined).  They will come up with the bracketed motions, and the class will practice all together while we recite the words correctly. 

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-- [hands spread to both sides, noting the group of conspirators]

For Brutus is an honourable man [gesture of closed fist pumping down and up, sort of an 'oh, boy' gesture, with some light sarcasm];

So are they all, all honourable men [same gesture, but much more sarcasm and wry smile]-

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral. [hand to mouth then out]

He was my friend, faithful and just to me [closed palm  over heart, like a heartfelt salute]


Video Explanation of the above (excerpted from day 1 of this lesson).  The entire class creates a set of movements--a routine, if you will- that will accompany Antony's speech so that we can memorize it, analyze the language choices (RL.9-10.4) in it, comment on the rhetorical choices (RI.9-10.6) and compare those choices to contemporary speeches by J.K. Rowling and Bono from U2.  It all starts with memorizing the speech in order to gain some familiarity with it.

This activity is well worth the effort, but it takes some persuasion and insistence on the part of the teacher to try something different like this.  The students, at least some of them, will be well out of their comfort zones on this. 

Recitation Demos

10 minutes

Early Adopters.  Some students are already ready to perform, and some will even want to get this over with and collect the grade today.  I have planned some time into the lesson to allow these students to perform, and I think this will be positive because their classmates will see that the  memorization/recitation is possible and that it really does not take too much time.  I am sure that many of the students are quite nervous about the social pressure of having to perform in front of the class, but I am ready to justify this because I plan on a flexible  approach, as some can perform today or tomorrow, while others can take an extra day if needed (for a minor deduction due to lateness).  Again, the point here is for the students to become familiar with the language so that they can more fully appreciate the literary merit of the text (RL.9-10.4) as well as the rhetoric at work (RI.9-10.6).