In this activity pupils will get the chance to imagine the attitudes of the ordinary citizens of Romeo and their thoughts about their ruler. This may be a good opportunity to ask pupils to think about whether the citizens care that Caesar wasn't picked by them. Do they think that the citizens would mid if Caesar was appointed as a king?
- Ask pupils to sit in a circle and discuss the line 'We make holiday to see Caesar, and to rejoice in his triumph.'
- Explain that this is from the opening scene. None of the main characters are there as it opens with a cobbler and carpenter getting ready to celebrate.
- Invite pupils to think about the atmosphere in this opening scene. What are they key words in the line that tell us what is happening? What kind of place is Rome? How do these 'ordinary' men feel about Caesar?
- Encourage pupils to create the atmosphere of a party where they are rejoicing in Caesar's triumph. Using the key words they have picked out, ask them to send the word across the circle, first as a stage whisper and they grouping louder to life the party mood, with more people joining in.
- Invite the pupils to then introduce other sounds such as changing, clapping, laughing, footsteps etc.
- Allow this soundscape to build and then ask pupils to gradually stop, reducing the noise.
- Select two pupils to play Flavius and Murellus who are like policemen in this scene. Give these pupils the following lines and ask them to interrupt the soundscape when they think they should:
Flavius: 'Hence! Home you idle creatures, get you home! Is this a holiday?'
Murellus: 'You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things'
- Explain that the citizens are stopped from celebrating by the officers of Rome. Ask the players how the citizens seem to feel about Caesar at the beginning of the play and how they feel about the authorities after being stopped?
- Ask pupils to think about why Shakespeare opens the play in this way, with these ordinary characters? Why might the reactions and feelings of Rome's citizens be important? What kind of leader is Caesar?
This soundscape activity can be used to explore the opening scene in any play you are studying. For example, in Macbeth you could start with the line 'when shall we three meet again/In thunder, lightning or in rain?' and build a soundscape which Banquo and Macbeth can interrupt with 'so fair and foul a day I have not seen.' In Hamlet or The Tempest is might be used to create Elsinore Castle or the storm.