Midsummer Night's Dream Unit


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  • Students will use the Internet to conduct research
  • Students will read two myths
  • Students will create a script to provide background for the play
  • Access to the Internet
  • Copies of Research assignment
  • "King Midas' Ears" (Graves 507)
  • "Pyramus and Thisbe" (Hamilton 101)
Before studying the famous Shakespearean play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, students need to become familiar with the background of both the play and Ancient Greece. Students can do the following:
Directions: Students will be placed into seven groups each assigned to an Act and Scene. This will provide a two-act play of sorts to introduce the class to Shakespeare and the characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Remember, the act and scenes in bold will be the one the group acts out for the class. The act and scene placed the group may be taking from will be found in the actual Shakespearean play). This group assignment will require a script to be written. Therefore you will need a secretary to keep all of the notes. This grade will depend on the entire group's participation so be sure everyone will have a part!
Act One Scene One: The Dinner Scene
During Shakespeare's time eating dinner was not quite like the way we are used to doing it. They were rarely even offered a quarter-pound of beef (a hamburger) for one week. Therefore, the simple Renaissance Englishman was not known for his manners. In this scene you are to develop a typical eating session at the dinner table. Remember there is no electricity in this century. You may have a difficult time convincing your audience that you cooked your dinner in the electric oven or went to Popeye's drive through.
Act One Scene Two: Friday Night
A Friday night in London was not necessarily for the youth. Taverns and pubs were about the only things open. Although theater was prominent, but not respectable, plays could not be conducted as late as they are now. In this scene, you are to recreate what you think would occur on a Friday Night in the Sixteenth century.
Act One Scene Three: The Globe theater
The Globe Theater is known as Shakespeare's playhouse. Research what you can about this famous Theatre. Write a script containing the information found. Remember to include the play that you will see and information regarding the Globe, its smells, its occupants, its reputation, and anything else you can.
Act Two Scene One: Hippolyta and Theseus
Theseus and Hippolyta are warriors. Research these mythological characters and the role they play in Greek mythology. You will be reciting Act One Scene One from the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Be sure to include information concerning the mood of the scene and the background regarding the warriors.
Act Two Scene Two: The Lovers
Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Demetrius have a problem. You will need to research all of the mythological characters, which they were based on, and how they fit into Shakespeare's play. You will be reciting Act One Scene One of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Be sure to include background information regarding the characters.
Act Two Scene Three: The Commoners
Who are the commoners? In Shakespeare's time they were people who were lower class. They really were ignorant. However, as you will discover, they really do not fit into Greek mythology. You will need to make that clear to the audience about this fact. The commoners first appear in Act One Scene Two as they make plans to act out "Pyramus and Thisbe." Bottom and Quince have extensive parts, therefore, the students playing the parts of flute, snug, etc, will need to read "Pyramus and Thisbe" and "King Midas' Ears." It is important that all of these characters and stories are explained so that the audience will know what is going on.
Act Two Scene Four: The Fairies
The final characters that make this play a dream are found in a truly English concept. The lovers escape into the wood outside of Athens. This wood in English means "mad" but has no relevance in Greek mythology. Therefore, your group will need to research the characters Oberon, Titania, and Puck (Robin Goodfellow), explain who they are, and compare them to actual figures in Greek Mythology.

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Midsummer Night's Dream Research Assignment

Directions: Students will use the Internet to research the topic given. Students will be placed in groups of three or four to complete the assignment. Once the research is finished, students will write a script using the information researched and answering the description given on the other handout.
Topics: These are the topics given to help in the research:
  1. life in the Renaissance period in England
  2. the life of William Shakespeare
  3. mythology in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Assignment: Using the Internet sites listed below, research information regarding your selected Act. Once you have gathered a sufficient amount of info, create a script, in which you use the information researched to act out the Act and Scene given.
Shakespeare Information
Midsummer Night's Dream text
World of Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Globe
Peter Hadorn's Renaissance and Shakespeare Page
Mythology in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Midsummer madness, Dangerous Dreams: Shakespeare's sources for A Midsummer Night's Dream

Grading Scale:
Students will be graded on the following criteria:

Knowledge of material 25%
Eye contact, appropriate sound, etc. 25%
Interest of scene 25%
Group interaction 25%

Once students research their acts, they will act them out. They should be evaluated similar to the previous evaluation on the mythological presentations.

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  • Students will explore a Shakespearean interpretation of Ancient Greek life
  • Students will read and watch A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Students will evaluate the legitimacy of the interpretations of both Shakespeare and the director of the film version.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream film (BBC 1992)
  • TV/VCR unit
  • A die
Students are to watch the play and read the book at the same time. They will play a game as they experience the lesson. Putting students into six groups, reading the play, watching the play, and stopping periodically to roll a die to ask questions of the group plays the game. Students will receive points for each question answered correctly. These points will accumulate until the end when they play jeopardy as a review for the test. The scores then will be added together and awards will be given out accordingly: First place receives a 100 on the test; second place receives 15 extra points on the test; third place receives 10 extra points on the test.

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updated July 20, 1999

The URL for this site is http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/scastro
These pages were developed through GirlTECH, a teacher training program sponsored by the Center for Research on Parallel Computation (CRPC), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center. Pages copyright July 1999 by Sarah Fattore-Castro.
Thanks to the RGK Foundation and EOT-PACI for its generous support of GirlTECH.