- NB If you do not want to work with iambic pentameter, follow instructions for ‘Building armies’ and ‘Fighting the battle’ only.
Introducing iambic pentameter
- Explain that these warriors also ride horses. Mime getting on a horse and galloping on the spot. Encourage students to copy.
- Remind students that warriors have to be very disciplined, perhaps even gallop in time together. Model galloping to the rhythm of iambic pentameter (de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum). Encourage students to join you and keep in time to the rhythm.
- Explain that in battles, armies also carry flags. Mime waving a flag and encourage students to copy, again waving the flags to the rhythm of iambic pentameter.
- Explain that all warriors feel their hearts beating fast as they get ready to fight in a battle. Model beating the rhythm of the heart / iambic pentameter on your chest with one hand and encourage students to copy.
- Tell students that this rhythm is called IAMBIC PENTAMETER (slide) and that the play is written with lines that fit this rhythm. You might want to add that this was a convention of the time and that the rhythm also helps actors learn their lines.
- Put signs for Macbeth’s army, Cawdor’s army and Norway’s army (pdfs in Resources list) on three different walls of the space.
- Organise students to stand by one of the three signs to form each army. Ensure Macbeth’s army is bigger than the other two.
- Assign leaders of each army as follows:
Macbeth, supported by Banquo and Ross, commands a large army for Scotland
The Thane of Cawdor commands a smaller Scottish army
The King of Norway commands the Norwegian army
- Give the king a crown and the other leaders a sash with the name of their character. With each leader recap the sign names established above in Exercise 2.
- Show students the map from the gallery with Fife marked (slide) and tell them that these three armies are all marching to battle and will meet in Fife.
- Ask students to show you a freeze frame of their army ready to fight.
Marching to battle
- Remind students of the discipline needed by warriors in an army. Recap Exercise 1 by asking all students to march on the spot and stop and salute when you salute them. Ask the leaders of each army: Macbeth, Cawdor and Norway, to take on this role for their army: when they salute, their army stops marching and salutes back.
- Next recap the exercise on iambic pentameter above, modelling galloping, flag waving and heartbeat in time with the rhythm and encourage students to join you.
- Assign each army one of these special actions:
Assign Macbeth and his army the action of galloping
Assign the King of Norway and his followers the action of waving a flag or banner
Assign Cawdor and his army the action of the heartbeat.
- Allow each group time to practise their action. They should follow their leader to keep time and find the rhythm together. They can then practise moving to the centre of the room whilst doing their action.
- Assign each army a line of text to match their actions (slide):
Macbeth: ’For Brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name’
Norway: ’Where the Norwegian banners flout the sky’
Cawdor: ’Assisted by that most disloyal traitor’.
- Model speaking the lines in iambic pentameter (de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum) and then repeat, encouraging students to join in with you.
- Ask everyone to do their action and encourage those comfortable with speaking to say their group’s line at the same time.
- Discuss with students what each line means. Draw out that:
Macbeth is described as brave, and others seem to admire him for his bravery. Perhaps his warriors are proud to follow him. Perhaps they are scared he will lead them into danger?
Norway’s army have many banners (flags). Perhaps this suggests they are confident and proud? Perhaps they are unsure what to expect from the Scots?
Cawdor’s line needs more unpicking. What is a traitor? What does disloyal mean? As a Scottish Thane, Cawdor should be fighting for Scotland against Norway. But if he is a ‘disloyal traitor’ that means he is going to fight for Norway against Scotland. How do his followers feel? Perhaps happy as they have been promised a reward? Perhaps guilty as they are fighting against fellow Scots?
- Ask each army in turn to show their action and speak their line and then to freeze at the end, with each warrior individually showing how they feel about fighting in this battle.
- Then ask them to show you how they want to appear to their enemies. Discuss any changes, for example, if someone appeared scared before, do they now look brave? Why might warriors need to look brave and fierce to their enemies?
- Tell them they will perform their action and speak their line as they move to Fife (the centre of the space). When they arrive, they freeze showing they are ready to fight. Explain that on your cue they should move towards Fife, trying to show they are stronger than the other armies (which might mean bigger actions, louder voices, fiercer expressions)
- Cue one group at a time as a practice: first Macbeth’s army, then Norway’s army, then Cawdor’s army.
- Ask students to repeat their journey to the battle at Fife but this time everyone will move at the same time and end in a frozen image ready to fight.
Fighting the battle
- If you completed ‘Marching to battle’ you can ask students to return to their roles and their places in the final frozen image. If you are picking up from ‘Building armies’, ask the students to return to the frozen image at the end of that section.
- Next, ask the armies to march into two lines facing each other.
- Ask: Which side should Cawdor’s army line up with? Remind them (or explain if you did not complete ’Marching to battle’) that Cawdor is a ‘disloyal traitor’ and betrays his fellow Scots to fight with Norway.
- Ask Macbeth’s army to show how they feel about this disloyal traitor joining the Norwegian army.
- Ask Norway’s army to show how they feel as Cawdor’s army joins their line.
- Introduce a drum and tell students that they are going to make four battle moves, which they will perform after each drum beat. Explain you will make a big movement of striking the drum and they should watch or listen for that cue.
- Remind them of the ‘Warrior Training’ exercise and ask all students to raise their arms with their hands grasped and index fingers pointing as their swords. Remind them they can swipe down, left or right. Model a possible sequence of battle moves: swipe, freeze, swipe, freeze, swipe, freeze, swipe, freeze.
- Beat the drum slowly four times to allow students to practise their moves. Ensure the movement of banging the drum is big enough to see for students who cannot hear the beat.
- Now, add a final fifth move: the Scottish army’s action should indicate victory - they have won the battle. The Norwegian army’s action should indicate defeat - they have lost the battle.
- Practise this last action, then put the sequence together with the five moves for the battle