Roundabout approach to drama

5th May 2006 at 01:00
I use this idea with Year 9 for Sats preparation. Getting pupils to discuss ideas and themes in Macbeth is the key to understanding the text. The theme of circularity is comprehensible to all students. Draw a large circle on the board or give a blank sheet with six empty circles on it and ask for ideas.

Among meanings of the circles which have arisen over the years are:

* The witches' cauldron into which the ingredients are tossed is similar to the way visions and fantasies are stirred up in Macbeth's mind.

* The bubble, which becomes a metaphor for the promises the witches make and Macbeth's delusions, expanding continuously until it bursts.

* The table where Macbeth passes the poison chalice to his neighbour which then returns to plague the inventor who must drink the concentrated poison in the lees and becomes the metaphor for justice.

* The crown, which is essentially empty, like the promises and desire for power which drive Macbeth.

* Macbeth's personality which fragments after he kills Duncan when he conflates his three identities of Macbeth, Glamis and Cawdor and becomes an empty shell which the devil then takes possession of.

* Inverness castle, which becomes the portal through which the devil enters the world.

All these ideas lend themselves to dramatisation. So, for example, the witches can link hands and surround Macbeth chanting their own spells. They spin and Macbeth spins in the opposite direction as they confuse him.

Kevin Fitzsimons, Advanced skills teacher, Andrew Marvell Business and Enterprise College, Hull

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