Below are some example activities using rehearsal room approaches to introduce Julius Caesar to secondary students.

You can find lots of other activities like these for different age groups and other Shakespeare plays through our Teacher Resources section and the Shakespeare Learning Zone.

 

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Really get to grips with the stories, settings and characters of Shakespeare's plays. Unlock his language using the same techniques our actors use in rehearsals.

1. Establishing the world of the play

When an RSC acting company starts exploring a key theme in Shakespeare's work, it's important for them to establish the world in which a story is taking place.

As a theatre company, the RSC sees the 'world' of the play as being different from the setting. For example, the setting of Julius Caesar is Rome, but the world of the play is a society where people are questioning the right of their ruler to govern and exploring their own rights as citizens.

The following activities focus on the world of Julius Caesar, looking specifically at different styles of leadership and how these might affect the people who are ruled that way.

  • Warm Up Activity

  • Imaging

2. Telling the Story

Once an acting company have an understanding of the worlds in which a story is taking place, it is important for them to gain a collective understanding of what happens in the text itself. The director will usually spend the first part of the rehearsal process focusing on this.

The following activities will introduce pupils to the opening scene of Julius Caesar and the story as a whole. They will be able to identify moments in the play where opinions about Julius Caesar as a leader change and what makes this happen. Do they agree or disagree that Caesar had a right to rule his people? Do they agree with the actions of the conspirators in removing him.

  • Soundscape

  • The Story in 20 Minutes

3. Discovering the characters

Once you have an overview of the world of a play and a sense of the story, it can deepen understanding to look at the characters that inhabit those worlds and explore their motivations.

The following activities  will help pupils look at the different characters in the play and their views on leadership.

  • Sculpting

4. Exploring the Language

Shakespeare's plays were written to be performed rather than read and exploring the language in a practical way can open up meaning for young people.

The RSC believes that the language of the play should provide the starting point for all the work around a production.

The following activities or scene studies will explore key moments in the play, as well as staging choies. Pupils will get the chance to explore Cassius's character by examining his soliloquy from Act 1 Scene 2 and Brutus's choices. Begin by looking at Cassius's soliloquy. You might want to read it more than once in different ways: asking pupils to emphasise the consonants and hard sounds the first time and the sibilance and 's' sounds the second time. Who do they think Cassius is speaking to?

  • Scene Study: Whispered Reading

  • Scene Study: Back to Back Reading & As If

  • Character Motivations

  • Imaging

  • Choral Reading & Punctuation Shift

  • Improvising in Context

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