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The Tempest Teacher's Guide Web

The Tempest Teacher's Guide Web

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Overview: Have your students imagine the setting of the play as they would like to see it.

Grade: 6–12

Goal: To have students think about the importance of setting. Students will consider how the time,
place, and location of a scene change the meaning of character and relationship.

Outcomes: Students will gain understanding of how the text can direct AND inspire creative


1. Give students a sample text of a description of the island. They may use this or choose
another passage that illustrates the island. Encourage students that this text is inspiration—
they may have the island be in any climate, in any time period, realistic or not.

Sample text:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

—Caliban, Act 3, scene 2

2. Have your students create a mood board for their setting. This can be done electronically on
a site like Pinterest, or manually on a bulletin board. (A mood board is a common term from
the fashion industry where designers pin up pictures of inspirations including texture, color,

people, animals, anything that pertains to and informs their idea of their design.)

3. The student(s) must come to fnal decision about their setting design to be able to present to

the class.

4. When presenting, ask them to relate the words or phrases in their chosen passage to their
images. The overall impression of the text in the student’s mind is also acceptable to explain
for inspiration.

5. Each student or group of students presents their moodboard to the class to explain their

setting, relating specifcally to the text and how the ideas generated from the words.


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1. What did you learn about the importance of setting?

2. Did you visualize what the stage would look like if your interpretation of the show was
actually produced?

3. Does the play provide enough clues to spark your imagination? Why or why not?

Idea Generator

Comic book island
Tropical island
Island in a cold climate
Outer space

Miniature island in a raindrop

Extension Exercise

Collaborate with your students’ history teacher to set the play in the specifc time period they
are studying. Stage one or two scenes in that time period using specifc and accurate details

about the concerns and/or behaviors of that time. Remember that limitations or advancements in
communication technology, especially, might connect the students to how the characters’ various
relationships manifest themselves through language.

Setting the play, again, in the specifc historical setting, rewrite the scenes in the English of
that time period (as much as possible). For example, a 2011 time period might feature all the

characters “speaking” in email and text messages. A 1920s time period would include typical

slang of the period (“doll” for girl; “the cat’s pajamas” for something good, etc.).


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Shakepeare’s Runway

Overview: To delve into the understanding of character through translating the text into a design

Goal: Students will use contextual clues and their understanding of text to inspire an original,
artistic representation of the character.

Outcomes: Students will gain personal understanding of the characters by relating the text
through the group process to create an original interpretation of the character.


A scene featuring each of the three characters being studied

A variety of art supplies: markers, scissors, tape, etc.

About 40 clothing items that can create a wide variety of looks

Safety pins and/or binder clips to adjust fabric to ft

Body templates for design sketching (see Male and Female Templates on following page)

and scrap paper for notes

HOW TO PLAY: to study one of the characters from the play in order to outft this character in a
way that refects who they are, based on your study of the text.

1. You are provided text that will give character clues for each person. Read the selected
scene, taking note of words or character clues in the text as you go. Share with your
group the images that popped out at you, seeming to best describe the character.

2. As a group, select three key words that inspire you in your design process.

3. Individually within your group, create a rendering of your character using various art
supplies and the template provided for you.

4. Join your group again and, as a team, select one rendering to be brought to life. Elements
may be combined from multiple drawings, but be prepared to explain your choices in the
design presentation.

5. Now that your team has agreed, the group must choose a “shopper” to go get the items
needed from the box of clothing including hats, shoes, skirts, etc.; choose the items that

represent your character. The shopper may not be able to fnd the exact match—your job

is to get items that match the illustration as closely as possible. Groups may also use


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found objects, their own clothing, and other assorted art supplies on hand.

6. Presentation: One person from your team will serve as the model, one person will serve as
the main presenter to tell the class what line from the text most fully embodies your look,

and each member of the team must explain how the words are refected in the clothing

choices you made. The model must perform this line of text. If possible, take a photo of the
model next to the design ideas to complete the activity.


1. Were there things about the character that you did not recognize until you were looking at
the text from a designer’s perspective?

2. How did your group arrive at the design concept that you ended up modeling? Did you have
to make some compromises?

3. When looking at the other groups’ designs, what do you think they most successfully
represented about their given character? When you see their word choices, what costume
item most embodies one of those words to you.

4. What element of the character’s costume do you fnd the most intriguing or thought-


Note: Students do not need to be worried about a look that would go well in a magazine, i.e.,
one that could have commercial appeal. It might be easy for some students to fall into this way of
thinking as this kind of advertising is seen everywhere, but this exercise is only about physically
embodying the character’s personality.

Extension activities: Those who are fashion- or artistically-oriented might want to base a
clothing line on all of the main characters in the play, presented as a runway.

Scrapbooking or creating a collage from different magazines or drawing a costume rendering frst

provides the opportunity for students to share their own ideas about their character with their

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Male and Female Templates


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We’ll visit Caliban my slave, who never
Yields us kind answer.


‘Tis a villain, sir,
I do not love to look on.


What, ho! slave! Caliban!
Thou earth, thou! speak.
Come, thou tortoise! when?
Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself
Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!



I must eat my dinner.
This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,

Which thou takest from me. When thou camest frst,

Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in’t, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee
And show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:
Cursed be I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!
For I am all the subjects that you have,

Which frst was mine own king: and here you sty me

In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o’ the island.


Thou most lying slave,
Whom stripes may move, not kindness! I have used thee,
Filth as thou art, with human care, and lodged thee
In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate
The honour of my child.



(p. 1 of 2)

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(p. 2 of 2)


O ho, O ho! would’t had been done!
Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else
This isle with Calibans.


Abhorred slave,
Which any print of goodness wilt not take,
Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee,
Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage,
Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing most brutish, I endow’d thy purposes
With words that made them known. But thy vile race,
Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which
good natures
Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou

Deservedly confned into this rock,

Who hadst deserved more than a prison.


You taught me language; and my proft on’t

Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!


Hag-seed, hence!
Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou’rt best,
To answer other business. Shrug’st thou, malice?
If thou neglect’st or dost unwillingly
What I command, I’ll rack thee with old cramps,
Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar
That beasts shall tremble at thy din.


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(p. 1 of 2)


Come away, servant, come. I am ready now.
Approach, my Ariel, come.



All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come

To answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fy,
To swim, to dive into the fre, to ride

On the curl’d clouds, to thy strong bidding task
Ariel and all his quality.


Hast thou, spirit,
Perform’d to point the tempest that I bade thee?


To every article.
I boarded the king’s ship; now on the beak,
Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,

I famed amazement: sometime I’ld divide,

And burn in many places; on the topmast,

The yards and bowsprit, would I fame distinctly,

Then meet and join. Jove’s lightnings, the precursors
O’ the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary

And sight-outrunning were not; the fre and cracks

Of sulphurous roaring the most mighty Neptune
Seem to besiege and make his bold waves tremble,
Yea, his dread trident shake.


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(p. 2 of 2)


My brave spirit!

Who was so frm, so constant, that this coil

Would not infect his reason?


Not a soul
But felt a fever of the mad and play’d
Some tricks of desperation. All but mariners
Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,

Then all afre with me: the king’s son, Ferdinand,

With hair up-staring,--then like reeds, not hair,--

Was the frst man that leap’d; cried, ‘Hell is empty

And all the devils are here.’


But are they, Ariel, safe?


Not a hair perish’d;
On their sustaining garments not a blemish,
But fresher than before: and, as thou badest me,
In troops I have dispersed them ‘bout the isle.
The king’s son have I landed by himself;
Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs
In an odd angle of the isle and sitting,
His arms in this sad knot.


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Musical Interlude:

The Soundtrack
of The Tempest

Overview: Music has the power to stir strong emotion, and there are many songs that
Shakespeare writes into the play itself. In this exercise, students will create a “soundtrack” for
the play using modern songs to illustrate particular plot points.

Grade: 6–12

Goal: To use contextual clues to relate the Shakespeare text and current songs.

Outcomes: Students will research the play for clues to the characters, fully describe the arc of
the play through modern lyrics and mood of the music played, and engage critical thinking skills
to determine their choices.


1. Students will research current music to fnd connections of meaning through lyrics and

musical expression to the plot of the play.

2. Students will create a list of song that accurately describes the story arc of the play

according to the specifc plots points below, paying attention to particular words and

moods that connect the song and the original text.

3. Have students share their lists, playing a few selections in class as time permits.


What diffculty did you have fnding the right songs, if any?

Were certain points of the play harder than others for which to fnd a current expression?

Does your soundtrack point to a certain interpretation of the story as you see it?

Were there certain characters you chose to highlight? Why?


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See the handout of Tempest plot points on the next page to give examples and guide your

Find Songs for the Following Plot Points in The Tempest:

1. Prospero and Miranda escape on a small rotten ship until reaching the island.

2. Prospero conjures a tempest (a big storm), that causes the ship carrying his treacherous

brother and several others to wreck on the island.

3. Ariel, Prospero’s spirit servant, appears. Ariel asks for the freedom Prospero had
promised her in exchange for her help in conjuring the tempest. Prospero denies her
request and demands that she become invisible to perform the next tasks he has in

4. Caliban curses Prospero in all the ways he can think of because he feels rightly entitled
to rule the island since his mother, the witch Sycorax, reigned there before Prospero

a. Example: “When You See My Face”, by the All-American Rejects

5. When Ferdinand and Miranda see each other, they fall in love at frst sight.

6. Trinculo and Stephano, a court jester and butler, have also been separated from the rest
of the group. Stephano has saved some bottles of wine from the ship, and has been
drinking a lot.

7. Caliban declares himself a slave to them and their “celestial liquor,” and soon they plot to
kill Prospero.

8. Miranda professes her love to Ferdinand, and they decide to marry.

9. Back with Antonio and company, Prospero causes the spirits to set out a delicious
banquet. Just as the men are about to dine, Ariel appears in the form of a harpy (a

ferocious fying creature) and causes the banquet to vanish. She declares their sins

against Prospero and vanishes, leaving them frightened and guilty.

10. Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano go to Prospero’s cell to kill him, but Ariel causes fne

clothing to appear on the trees and bushes all around them. Trinculo and Stephano start

to fght over the clothes, and Caliban yells at them to get on with the murder.

11. Finally, Ariel and Prospero summon spirits in the shape of ferocious dogs and hounds to
chase them away.

a. Example: “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men


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12. Prospero then has Ariel bring all the shipwrecked men to him. Prospero decides to forgive
Antonio rather than exact more vengeance.

13. Prospero ceremonially breaks his magic staff to demonstrate his renunciation of
practicing magic.

14. Prospero sets Ariel free from servitude.

15. The play ends with Prospero’s speech to the audience asking their indulgence to be
pleased by the play and to send the actors on their journey with applause.


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Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Reference Sheet

addition - title
affned - bound by duty
alarum - call to arms with
anatomize -
to analyze in
ancient - ensign
anon - until later
arrant - absolute
aroint - begone
assail - to make amorous
attend - to await
aye - yes

baffe - to hang up (a person)

by the heels as a mark of
baggage - strumpet,
balk - to disregard
barm - the froth on ale
belike - maybe
belov’d – beloved
blank - a target
bolted - refned
brake - bushes
brave - fne, handsome
bum - backside, buttocks
caitiff - a wretched humble
catch -
character – handwriting
Cousin, ’coz- relative, good

chuck - term of endearment,
clout - a piece of white cloth
cog - to deceive
coil - trouble
cousin - any close relative
descant - improvise
discourses – speaks
dispatch - to hurry
e’en - evening
enow - enough
fare -thee-well -goodbye
fe - a curse
fustian - wretched
got – begot
grammarcy - thank you
halter - noose
honest - chaste, pure
heavy - sorrowful
housewife - hussy, prostitute
impeach - dishonor
list - listen
mayhap - maybe
mess - meal, food
mew - confne
minister - servant
moiety - portion
morrow - day
nay - no
ne’er - never
offce - service or favor
oft - often
passing - surprisingly,

perchance - maybe
perforce - must
politician - schemer
post - messenger
power - army
prithee - please
quest - a jury
recreant - coward
resolve - to answer; reply to
but soft – be quiet
soundly -
stale - harlot
subscription - loyalty,
tax -
to criticize; to accuse
troth - belief
teem - to give birth
thee – you (informal)
thou – you (informal)
thy – your (informal)
tucket - trumpet fourish
verge - edge, circumference
verily - truly
villain – common person, not
want –
lack of, don’t have
well-a-day -alas
wherefore - why
yea - yes
zounds - by his (Christ’s)


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A current scholar’s view on the connection between the wreck of the Sea-Venture and The

Excerpted from “Shakespeare Discovers America, America Discovers Shakespeare,”
Shakespeare in American Life exhibition catalog. Folger Shakespeare Library, 2007
—Alden T. Vaughan, professor emeritus of history, Columbia University; co-curator of
Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2007 Shakespeare in American Life exhibition.

“The story of the Sea Venture’s wreck on the Bermuda Islands has often been told, but it bears

a brief summary here because it opened Shakespeare’s works to the infuences of English

colonization and, perhaps more important, because it undergirds the theory—espoused
intermittently since the late nineteenth century—that Shakespeare set The Tempest on Bermuda

and intended the characters to refect early American persons and events. Bermuda, to this day,

reminds visitors of its reputed Tempest connections with venues like Prospero’s Cave (a night

club), Caliban’s Bar, and the Ariel Sands Beach Club.”

The fve hundred potential colonists in nine ships that departed England in early June 1609

expected to sail north of Bermuda on their westward route from the Canary Islands to Virginia.
When they were several days short of their destination, a massive hurricane scattered the

feet. One vessel sank; seven ships straggled into Jamestown, weeks overdue. The fagship Sea
Venture, carrying the feet’s admiral, Sir George Somers, and Virginia’s new governor, Sir Thomas

Gates, never arrived at Jamestown and was presumed to have been lost.

News of the tragedy reached England when the surviving ships headed home from Jamestown,
“laden with nothing but bad reports and letters of discouragement.” England’s only American
colony, readers learned, was beset by Indians, ravaged by sickness, on the verge of starvation,
and shorn of legitimate leadership. Its “headless and unbridled multitude,” lamented the Virginia

Company of London (the colony’s supervisory body), had succumbed to “disorder and riot.”

Company spokesmen blamed everything, directly or indirectly, on “the Tempest.”1

Against all expectations, the Sea Venture had weathered the storm—barely. Among the
survivors, William Strachey described the experience most vividly in a very long letter (twenty-

two folio pages when fnally printed), written in Virginia to an unnamed lady in England.2 For

three days and four nights, Strachey remembered, all hands—crew and passengers, noblemen
and commoners—pumped, bailed, cast trunks and barrels overboard, and jettisoned much of
the ship’s rigging, while sailors, lighting their way with candles, stuffed the leaking hull with
whatever came to hand, even beef from the ship’s larder. Many distraught souls, resigned to a
watery death, bid their friends farewell or took refuge in drink. But “it pleased God,” another
survivor gratefully recalled, to push the Sea Venture within three-quarters of a mile of Bermuda,
where it “fast lodged and locked” between coral boulders. All 150 passengers and crew rode the
ship’s boats to solid land.”


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You’re the Critic:

Cal Shakes Play Critique

(Elementary and Middle School)

NAME: __________________________________

1. Circle the number of stars that best matches how you’d rate this performance. (One star

is the lowest rating and fve stars is the best rating.) Then write a paragraph on the back
of the paper that specifcally describes why you gave it that rating. Do not simply say “I

didn’t like it,” but say why. For example, “I didn’t like the fact that the director changed
the setting to New York” or “I loved the way the actors made me believe that they were
really going to kill each other.”

2. Outline the main actions that happened in the plot (what were the big events in the









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3. What is the central idea or theme of the play?

4. Describe what the actors did to help you understand the Shakespearean language.

5. What did you particularly like or dislike about the staging (set design, lights, costumes,

music, etc.)?

6. Shakespeare writes about feelings that we all experience. In The Tempest, we see people
with feelings like love, jealousy, anger, frustration, and many others. Pick one of these
emotions that you’ve experienced strongly and write what happened in your life to make
you feel that way and what happened because of it.


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You’re the Critic:

Cal Shakes Play Critique

(Middle and High School)

Give this production a rating of 1 to 5 stars. (One star is the lowest rating and fve stars is the
highest.) On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph review of the play. In other words,
describe why you gave it that rating. Give specifc examples to support your reasons. On the
same sheet of paper, refect on the following questions:

Star rating: ___ stars

1. How would you describe the character of Caliban as he is portrayed in this production?

2. Use one word to describe what you thought this play was about. Example: Revenge.
Love. Magic.

3. Why are we still staging this play 400 years since Shakespeare wrote it? Why do you
think the director chose this play?

4. Which character did you sympathize with most? Why?

5. Think about and describe:

a. The vocal and physical actions of the actors (characterization)

b. The set

c. The costumes

6. What do you think are some of the themes of the play?

7. Did the elements of characterizations, set, and/or costumes reinforce any of these


8. Shakespeare writes about things that we all experience: love, jealousy, death, anger,
revenge, passion, misunderstandings, etc. Write a paragraph about one big emotion in
the play that you’ve also experienced in your life.

9. Now, imagine you are the director of The Tempest and use a new sheet of paper to create
your new production.


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a. Cast the characters of Prospero and Miranda with famous actors. Why would you
choose these two people?

b. Many directors set Shakespeare plays in time periods other than the Renaissance.
What other setting could you place the play in that would make sense? Why?

c. How about costumes? Imagine how the characters in your new production would be
dressed that would illustrate the kinds of characters they are and what setting you
have put the play in.


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