Shakespeare lives

26th May 2000 at 01:00
THE SHORTER SHAKESPEARE MACBETH. Adapted by Christine Shepherd. Carel Press Script. pound;2.99, Teacher's Resource Book pound;14.95.

This shortened version of Macbeth is a coherent adaptation, well illustrated with photographs. The nine scenes have brief introductory exchanges between two young narrators. Here is a sample: "Narrator 1: The witches have promised an awful lot to Macbeth. Do you think he should believe them? Narrator 2: Well, the first promise has come true. Macbeth is Thane of Cawdor."

The Teacher's Resource Book gives some excellent advice. Fun and enjoyment of Shakespeare must come first. Pupils' understanding of action, response to language and appreciation of character and theme will follow. There are admirable comments on the use of film, with a recommendation that pupils see videos only when they are familiar with he text.

"Students become attached to film versions all too readily, and accept the interpretations of character and action as definitive."

The Resource Book contains much good material, though the age range targeted is not always clear. The photocopiable worksheets, with line drawings and speech balloons, suggest upper primary pupils, and there are possibilities here for the key stage 2 literacy hour. However, many of the activities and commentaries are appropriate to KS3 and 4. They encourage pupils to speak the lines, look at the words and discuss events, causes, and effects. They should generate good talk and good writing. Even teachers who are wary of worksheets and ready-made material will find some useful and imaginative ideas here.

Jeanne Strickland is an English inspector working on OFSTED inspections


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