Teachers' Notes

A Guide to using teachers' notes

This online resource for The Merchant of Venice provides a range of engaging classroom activities that reflect the National Curriculum for English, Drama and Art and Design. These notes will guide teachers through the website and suggest activities which will show students how the director and the cast create the world of the play.

KS3 English and Drama
The activities are offered to support delivery of the KS3 English Programme of Study for speaking and listening, reading and writing. The Progression Statements indicate the progression in knowledge, understanding and skills in the four areas of study:

- Character and motivation
- The language of the text
- Ideas, themes and issues
- The text in performance

This year there is a new section which provides detailed information on the historical and social context of the period when the play was written. The treatment of the Jews in Elizabethan England and across Europe is very important to understanding the behaviour and actions of the characters in this play. This is available to download from the Supporting Documents list on the right.

Bill Buckhurst, the director of this production, provides five illuminating interviews where he describes his approach to directing the play and what he and the cast have learned from the rehearsal process. These are available to view from the homepage of this site.

Character

The Character pages on the website are intended to look similar to Facebook, with which students are familiar. Each character has their own page with a profile, photographs and quotations about them from other characters. Students can post comments on the character’s dilemma. Students can also upload short first person reflections as the character (‘Tweet’). This can be linked to a point in the play with the hashtag option. Both these interactive tools can be used to stimulate discussion and lead to activities such as conscience corridor.

The Backstage Blog provides fascinating insights into how the cast, working with the director and other professionals, add flesh and bones to the characters. These approaches can be transferred to the classroom and will help pupils to think about how the characters interact with one another, what they want and what they do to achieve their aims.

Other interactive approaches that build on the information on the Facebook pages can be found in Character and Motivation worksheet in the Teachers Notes. This is available to download from the Supporting Documents list on the right. There is also an article by Dr Derek Dunne on representations of Shylock over different productions.

Language

The Tools button in the three selected scenes on the Language page provide definitions of the literary techniques Shakespeare used, as well as edits the director has made to the scipt. Examples of the techniques are highlighted and students can find others as they read through the scenes.

Activities to develop understanding of the language of the play can be found in Language of the Text worksheet, available to download from the Supporting Documents list on the right. There is also an article by Giles Block on  the language of the play.

Themes

Activities to develop understanding of the themes are available to download from the Supporting Documents list on the right. There is also an article by Dr Derek Dunne on the themes of love and the pursuit of wealth. The information in the download on historical and social context supports the exploration of the themes of discrimination, cultural intolerance and persecution. This is available to download from the Supporting Documents list on the right.

The Week by Week pages take students through the whole process of building a production from designing the moodboards for the play, to designing a set, creating costumes and writing a review for the play. Each week students are offered an opportunity to emulate the work of the production team and the chance to have their work uploaded onto the site. The activities, which are written by the creative team, support the delivery of the programmes of study for Art and Design.

The Backstage Blog charts the progress the cast make in developing their characters, their voice skills and their understanding of the demands of working on the Globe stage. Rehearsal techniques are described within the Character section and actors comment on how these approaches give them insights into their characters and help them perform their parts.

Activities to further develop an understanding of the text and the staging of text can be found in the Text in Performance worksheet, available to download from the Supporting Documents list on the right.

Globe Education Online

We have many resources for Shakespeare on our website, including a large archive of previous Globe productions and interviews with actors. Information can also be found about workshops, lectures and other events run by Globe Education.

Visit shakespearesglobe.com/education

Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank Online

In addition to this resource for The Merchant of Venice, we also have an online resource to accompany each of the previous Playing Shakespeare productions, including Romeo and Juliet and the award winning site for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Visit playingshakespeare.org

Globe Education Shakespeare Publications

These Globe Education editions of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet include actor and director views and many stunning photographs, in addition to a clear play text and glossary. Furthermore the online version (dynamic learning) offers the opportunity to explore Shakespeare’s plays interactively, through video clips and script machines.

Globe Education Shakespeare titles are now available from the iTunes store in an interactive iBook version, with video and audio as well as the glossary, context, activities, and exam support of the paper versions.

Visit shakespearesglobe.com/educationeditions or click here to be taken to the iTunes store for the iBook edition.

We appreciate your comments so please feed back to us by email at: feedback@shakespearesglobe.com

Supporting Files