Shakespearean Soliloquy Shake-Up
Language Arts Challenge
Due: April 7, 2023
Designed for Middle and High School Students
|Table of Contents
· The Challenge
· Assumptions and Logistics
· Meridian Support Resources
· Presentation of Learning
· Evaluation Rubric
· Essential Questions
· Student Proficiencies
· Curricular Correlations (RL2, RL3, RL4, RL5, RL6, W3, W4, W5, SL1, SL4, L5, L6)
· The Soliloquies
|Range of Activities
· Shakespearean Analysis
· Dramatic Genre Analysis (The Soliloquy)
· Digital Literacy Skills – Video – Pre-production, Production and Post-production
· 21st Century Skills: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Presentational Skills
Friends, Romans Countrymen, lend me your ears; Meridian comes to assign soliloquies, not monologues. For the soliloquies of Shakespeare live after him and the monologues are interred with his bones.
Welcome to the Shakespearean Soliloquy Shake-Up in which students will produce a video of a re-imagined soliloquy from Shakespeare.
What is a soliloquy? A soliloquy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character’s thoughts.” Soliloquies are often spoken to oneself and never to or in front of other characters.
Soliloquies allow the audience a glimpse into the character’s mind: their motives and how they think. William Shakespeare excels in the use of soliloquies. He allows us access to the minds of characters like Iago from Othello, Hamlet from Hamlet, and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet.
While soliloquies are, in themselves, individual, Meridian Stories is turning it into a group activity. Your task is to:
- Choose a soliloquy;
- Re-write the soliloquy; and
- Perform the soliloquy
There are several conditions and considerations:
- One team member must introduce the soliloquy by briefly stating the situation that this character is in. In short, they must set up the scene.
- The remainder of the video is the performance of the soliloquy. How your team chooses to present the soliloquy is up to you. Options include:
- Solo performance, by a team member, playing the character, on a bare stage
- Solo performance, by a team member, playing the character, inside of a setting that is designed to assist in the narrative.
- Group recitation, or some variation whereby one person begins and another ends the speech…if your team can work that so that it makes sense.
- Solo performance with other team members participating as other characters; as objects; in dance; …in any fashion that you think will help to effectively communicate the meaning of the soliloquy.
- The newly written soliloquy should be approximately the same length as the original.
Which Shakespearean soliloquy to do? Choose one of the soliloquies offered from below:
- Hamlet Act 3 Scene 1: Lines 1749-1783.
- Romeo and Juliet Act 3 Scene 2: Lines 1-33; or
- Othello Act 2 Scene 3: Lines 336-362.
All soliloquies deal with serious questions and situations. Hamlet struggles with the hardships of his life, Iago divulges his true intentions, and Juliet speaks of her impatience for night and with it, her sweet Romeo. While we recommend that you choose a soliloquy from the choices below, teams may, in coordination with their teachers, choose a different Shakespearean soliloquy.
- The Shakespearean Soliloquy Shake-up Video (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Soliloquy Analysis (at teacher’s discretion)
- Soliloquy Final Script (at teacher’s discretion)
Assumptions and Logistics
- Time Frame – We recommend that this digital storytelling project takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.
- Length – All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.
- Slate – All digital storytelling projects must begin with a slate that provides:
- the title of the piece;
- the name of the school submitting;
- the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only, in any and all media; and
- We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.
- Submissions – Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in any given Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).
- Teacher Reviews – All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the digital storytelling project.
Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator – While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the digital storytelling project. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content. You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues. See the Teachers Rolesection of the site for further ideas about classroom guidance.
Digital Rules/Literacy – We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Stories Digital Resource Center section of the site for guidance.
- Location – Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the digital story you are trying to tell.
- Collaboration – We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.
Below is a suggested breakdown of the students’ work.
During Phase I, student teams will:
- Choose a soliloquy.
- Critically read the text and develop an in-depth understanding of the material.
- Shakespeare is difficult to understand so a line-by-line reading to hash out exactly what the character is saying is important.
- One strategy may be to have each team member write their own interpretations separately and then come together to compare approaches.
- Having each member of your team ‘perform’ the soliloquy can often reveal new layers of meaning. This is because each team member will bring a different understanding/interpretation to their reading.
- Pick out the essentials of the soliloquy.
- What thematic material is most central?
- What are three critical things that the character is communicating?
- How might the ideas being communicated by this character effect the action and people around the character?
- What is the character revealing about himself/herself and …do they know it?
- What are some lines that simply make no sense at all, and …how do you go about decoding them? They do have meaning. Pick a few and try to figure it out.
- Reading between the lines of the soliloquy, …what is really going on in this character’s mind???
- Teacher’s Option: Soliloquy Analysis – Teachers may require that groups hand in a critical analysis of their select soliloquy.
- Individually, in isolation of your team, write your first draft of the new soliloquy, using your own words.
- Keep in mind that in rewriting the soliloquy it is not necessary to ‘translate’ each line from Shakespearean language to your own. While this may be an effective approach, it may also result in a very jerky speech. By completing the analysis above, your team may want to re-write the entire soliloquy – knowing the intentions, directions, and emotions that are motivating the words – by re-ordering the ideas and adding new images and references. That’s your goal: land in the same place, journey along the same pathway, but …make it your own.
- Team members share and compare interpretations. Now, you are ready to write your first team draft, using ideas from everyone’s interpretation.
During Phase II, student teams will:
- Continue to draft the soliloquy, reading it out loud as you revise and shifting the language from the prosaic to the poetic; from the speech with full sentences to the verse with thoughts that interlock with each other. Keep asking yourself: have you successfully introduced a well-crafted soliloquy that is consistent with the original material? Are the character’s most important inner thoughts being effectively communicated?
- Take a beat to focus on the introduction – the setting up of the soliloquy for your audience. Is this a voice over? Are two of you in conversation about what is going on just prior to the soliloquy. Is your main character the one who steps onto the stage, paints the picture, and then shifts gear and delivers the revised soliloquy.
- Brainstorm the visual presentation: what will your performance of the soliloquy look like? Questions to consider:
- How will you introduce the soliloquy?
- Who is going to perform the soliloquy? Will that person have it memorized? (Recommended!)
- Will there be other characters in the scene? If so, what will they be doing? What will they be wearing? And what is their purpose: how is their inclusion adding meaning to the scene?
- Will there be action going on while the soliloquy is performed?
- Where will this be shot?
- Teacher’s Option: Soliloquy Script – Teachers may require that groups hand in a final script of their short video.
- Soliloquies are designed as a solo performance for the stage. But your presentation has two distinct differences: 1) It’s a group performance; and 2) your medium is video. As regards the second distinction, video allows you to control your imagery through editing. Will this be one long shot, or many shorter shots? If your team thinks that heavy editing – many shots, many cuts – will be an effective tool for communicating the content, then we would recommend storyboarding your soliloquy in advance of the shoot.
During Phase III, student teams will:
- Rehearse and pre-produce the video, paying attention to costuming, location, lighting, and blocking.
- Shoot the video
- Pay extra close attention to diversity of camera angles, audio quality, and acting.
- Edit the video.
- Sound design – Sound design can help drive the drama and conjure an emotional response from the audience. Think about including sounds and/or music that will elicit a positive response from the audience.
Meridian Support Resources
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams:
1. Media Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three-to-four-minute videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
2. Meridian Resources – These are short documents that offer student teams key tips in the areas of creativity and production.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Media Innovators and Artists||Meridian Resources|
|Music in Film – Mary Hunter||Video Editing Basics|
|Acting – Janet McTeer||Sound Recording Basics|
|Editing – Tom Pierce||Creating Storyboards, Framing the Shot|
|Multimedia in Theatre – Roger Bechtel||Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects|
Presentation of Learning
Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.
The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These digital storytelling projects provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills. This can be achieved in a remote learning environment by inviting parents to a Zoom/Google/Skype screening of the student’s digital stories.
According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…
- Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
- Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
- Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason: Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.
It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories’ digital storytelling projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit Share Your Learning.
Evaluation Rubric – Shakespearean Soliloquy Shake-Up
|Criteria||1 – 10|
|Introduction – Engaging and Effectiveness||The introduction is engaging and clearly articulates the narrative dynamic in which the soliloquy is set|
|Soliloquy – Consistency with Original Intentions of the Character||The re-written soliloquy adds new layers of meaning while staying consistent with the original intentions of the character|
|Character –Consistency with Original Characters||The character’s emotions and message capture and expand on the original in an authentic way|
|Criteria||1 – 10|
|Soliloquy Staging||The staging of the soliloquy, including the introduction, maximizes the meaning of the narrative|
|Character||The acting excels at capturing the essence of the character and drives the video|
|Language – Authentic and Effective||The selection of words and flow of speech communicates the content in a meaningful way|
|Criteria||1 – 10|
|Visual Elements – Setting, Shot Selection and Wardrobe||The visual elements are carefully crafted to enhance the scene’s intent|
|Directing and Editing||The final edited piece services the narrative effectively and compellingly|
|Sound Design||Voice, sound effects and music enhances the content of the video|
|HUMAN SKILLS COMMAND (teachers only)|
|Criteria||1 – 10|
|Collaborative Thinking||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
- What is the dramatic purpose and effect of the soliloquy form?
- Why does Shakespeare choose the soliloquy form to disclose this information?
- How does one find meaning in the language of Shakespeare?
- What effect does interpreting and re-scripting an original Shakespeare soliloquy have on one’s understanding of the original material?
- How does performing a soliloquy deepen your understanding of the content, of the genre?
- How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking, and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
- How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?
- Students will come away with a deep understanding of the soliloquy form and its purpose in Shakespeare’s writing.
- Students will parse out what the character is communicating to the audience, their motives, and desires. Students will also develop an understanding and appreciation of this unique dramatic form.
- Students will come away with the tools to analyze and interpret Shakespeare’s language in a meaningful way.
- Students will re-write a Shakespearean soliloquy, finding their own words and phrasing to communicate the meaning, and in owning the content, understand the original in a new way.
- Students will develop new oratory skills through performance of a written piece of work. In addition, performance – interpretation of the words with body, voice, and blocking – will expose new layers of meaning to the original content.
- The student will utilize key Human Skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking, and digital literacy, in their process of translating literary content into a new narrative approach.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important Human Skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.
The Shakespearean Soliloquy Shake-Up Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by the Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts Standards
|5th Grade||8th Grade||9th – 10th Grade||11th – 12th Grade|
|RL2||Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
|Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
|Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
|Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
|RL3||Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
|Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.||Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.||Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).|
|RL4||Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
|Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
|Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
|Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
|N/A||N/A||Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
|Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
|RL6||Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
|Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.||Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.
|Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
|Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
|W5||With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
|With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
|Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
|Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
|Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
|Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
|SL4||Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
|Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.||Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.||Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.|
|L5||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
|L6||Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships
|Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.||Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.||Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.|
JULIET (Romeo and Juliet – Act III, scene ii)
Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Toward Phoebus’ lodging. Such a wagoner
As Phaeton would whip you to the west
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaways’ eyes may wink, and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalked of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties, or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match
Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
Hood my unmanned blood bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle, till strange love, grow bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night. Come, Romeo. Come, thou day in night,
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow upon a raven’s back.
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-browed night,
Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Oh, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possessed it, and though I am sold,
Not yet enjoyed. So tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them.
Oh, here comes my Nurse,
And she brings news, and every tongue that speaks
But Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence.
HAMLET (Hamlet – Act III, sc. i)
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia!—Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
IAGO (Othello – Act II, sc. iii)
And what’s he then that says I play the villain?
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal to thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy
Th’ inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit. She’s framed as fruitful
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor, were to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemèd sin,
His soul is so enfettered to her love,
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows
As I do now. For whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortune
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear:
That she repeals him for her body’s lust.
And by how much she strives to do him good
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.