The Professional Theatre at Southern Utah University

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Classroom Activities

Classroom Activities

From The Shakespeare Theatre’s First Folio Curriculum Guides

Stormy Weather

It’s no surprise that a play named The Tempest opens in the middle of a huge storm at sea. But how can a director and a team of designers create that storm onstage? Ask students to brainstorm different ways to present the storm and shipwreck onstage. Then break the class into three groups and assign each a budget—one group has a high school drama club budget, one has a regional theatre budget, and one has a Broadway theatre budget. Each group should develop a concept or proposal for the storm scene, complete with lights, set, sound, props, and costumes, considering their respective budgets. Have each group present their ideas to the class. How does budget affect the staging of the storm? How realistically should the storm be staged?

Be a Sound Designer

The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s most sound-heavy plays. Have students read Caliban’s speech: “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises,/Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not” (3.2.135–136). Then go back and ask students to pick out as many references to sound as they can find, both in the text and in the stage directions. Creating a sound design for a play or movie is an important part of telling the story. What kinds of sounds exist on the island in The Tempest? Ask students to create one sound cue for a moment in the play, using music, voices or found items (recorded or live) to create the sound. How does sound help to tell the story?

Ariel and Caliban in Visual Art

Ariel and Caliban, two of Shakespeare’s non-human characters, have left much room for interpretations in how they can be portrayed. The nineteenth century produced a number of artists who were inspired by Shakespeare and put scenes of his play on canvas. Visit and find a painting depicting Ariel or Caliban from The Tempest. Compare how you expected these characters to look with the artist’s rendering. How do artists take ideas from literature and incorporate them into their own work.
Ask students to create their own work of art based on character descriptions. Keep these images in mind when you see the play and compare all three interpretations.

Slaves and Servants

In The Tempest, Ariel and Caliban both serve Prospero and Miranda. In the Folio version of the play, Caliban is described as a “savage and deformed slave.” Given that Ariel and Caliban are “natives” of he island, what class issues does their relationship to Prospero bring up? What responsibilities does a director have in staging The Tempest for a contemporary audience? Are Ariel and Caliban positive or negative characters? How would you portray them today? How did the director at the Utah Shakespeare Festival portray Caliban and Ariel?

The Tempest Themes

Create a song, a poem, or a piece of artwork to demonstrate the themes of The Tempest.

Apology Letter

Apologizing to another person is often a difficult task. Write an apology letter as one of the characters in The Tempest to another character. 

Are You My Mother?

Many female characters in Shakespeare’s later plays grow up never knowing their mothers.
Ask students to consider why Shakespeare would make this choice? How would these plays be
different if a mother was present? Ask students to rewrite Act 1 Scene 2 of The Tempest, adding
a third character—Miranda’s mother. How does the scene change? How might this change affect the rest of the play?

Water, Water Everywhere

Water imagery abounds in The Tempest and plays a vital role in the events that unfold. Ask students to share all of the ways that water is used in the play. Then ask students to pick one example of water imagery to recreate. They can make a collage, write a poem, use their bodies, voices, instruments, or any other form of expression to demonstrate the feeling that water evokes.

What To Do After You See This Play

Encourage your students to reflect on the play in some of the following ways. We would love to have copies of some of the writings or artwork your students create.

1. Write

• Write a play or scene in response to the play.

• Improvise a scene with a partner and then write it down.

• Write a soliloquy for one of he characters in The Tempest.

• Write a scene for two of the characters in the play that you think we should have seen but that was not in Shakespeare’s play. For example, a prologue scene set in Milan between Prospero and his brother Antonio before the coup.

• Write an epilogue. For example, what happens to Miranda and Ferdinand after the story ends? How about Trinculo and Stephano? Prospero and Antonio? Brothers King Alonso and Sebastian?

• Write a review of the production.

2. Draw

• Draw images from the production.

• Draw a poster for the production of The Tempest.

• Create a collage of images from magazines in response to the play.

3. Create a performance of scenes from The Tempest.