Today, we continued our look at 3.1. After doing a bit of a homework review, we watched “Spoiling for a Fight,” one of the Shakespeare Uncovered videos provided by the BBC. This particular video focuses on the language of the fight. As a class we examined the language of Tybalt vs. Mercutio. Tybalt speaks in “bullet points.” He’s direct. Mercutio is a wordsmith. Grabbing one of my Nerf swords (which, by the way, I’m finding more and more useful as this project continues), I asked them to compare that to using the sword. Tybalt stabs, they said. Mercutio stabs too, but only after getting fancy with his sword work. He’s try to make you look like a fool.
We then looked back through the scene and looked for words definitely meant to insult. I had them look through and asked if there were any that could be taken either way. After sharing these responses, we found ourselves in a conversation about how words play an important role in starting a fight. They get your adrenaline pumping. They prick at the other person. They make it so that you can’t back down.
Our second video by Shakespeare Uncovered explored three different ways of playing the death scene of Mercutio. The actor playing Mercutio first tries to play it with bravado, as if he’s trying to put on a brave face and not show really how badly hurt he is. Second, he tries it with fear. The third way combined the two. After watching, my students discussed amongst themselves which one worked best for them. I loved this conversation, because they could find reasons why each way worked well for the character.
Finally, using the same bit of text that we had been using for most of class, I had my students do another “promptbook,” like we did for an earlier scene (3.1c – Words as Weapons-Promptbook). I wanted to bring back this activity, because it really forced them to go step by step and visualize the scene. They needed to be able to “hear” how the actors would deliver lines, and they need to visualize what actions they would use to emphasize the line.