"Life's But a Poor Player:" Macbeth and Performing Ourselves

byAleco Julius
Shakespeare's great tragedy Macbeth is a very appealing work for young people to study. It involves ambition, deceit, violence, and elements of the supernatural, while posing questions and problems that young people will be eager to discuss and connect to. This curriculum unit presents a framework for which to study this remarkable play, called the Performance Triangle. This threefold paradigm is a graphic representation of what Shakespeare makes us aware of in his work: the complex concept of performance. First, there is the everyday performance of the self that each reader/audience member engages in. Secondly, there is the performance of the actor, who must take on a role while interpreting the text. Lastly, there are the performances of the characters within the play, who present their own multiple selves to the other characters.

Through close reading strategies such as staged readings, annotation, and guided discussion, students will use this performance triangle to come to an understanding of how Shakespeare comments on the multifaceted concept of performance— in the play and in our own lives. The unit also includes intensive writing, culminating in an essay that draws upon the entire unit's study of Macbeth.

(Developed for AP Literature and Composition, grade 12; recommended for AP Literature and Composition, grade 12, and World Literature and British Literature, grade 11)

Comments (2)

    carmon schmidt hamill (New York School, New York, NY)
    Subject taught: English, Grade: 7
    need someone helpful
    Interesting discussion - I was enlightened by the points - Does someone know if I could possibly get access to a blank a form copy to fill out ?

    Anne Richardson (New Hope High School, Columbus, MS)
    Subject taught: ENGLISH IV, Grade: 12
    Thank you! I was searching for a way to articulate my goals and objectives in teaching Macbeth, so to find this guide was a great help to me. Although my students are not AP students, I find that if I teach \"up,\" I tend to see more engagement from them. Hopefully, I will be able to foster a love of the Scottish play, as well as other works from Shakespeare.

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