Have students work in small groups to create a chart that lists different sources of romantic attraction. Encourage students to be as specific as possible. For example, one
column of the chart might list physical attributes, such as sparkling eyes, a delicate
complexion, luxurious hair, athleticism, and so on. A second column might list personality characteristics, such as a sense of humor, kindness, intelligence, and so on. Challenge
students to go beyond the obvious in their lists. Have each group share its completed chart with the class. Discuss what the charts reveal about the nature of romantic attraction.
Invite students to discuss how romantic love is portrayed in contemporary culture. Encourage them to consider how love is depicted in movies, television shows, commercials, music, and other media. Is love depicted as irrational, or does it have a basis in sound judgment? Is love measured by the excitement it creates or the commitment it elicits? Discuss how popular images of love might influence young people or reflect their own experiences of love.
Begin a class discussion by asking students, "Who should decide whom you marry, you or your parents?" Ask them how much influence their parents have on the decision. Should parents have more or less influence? Does the answer vary by ethnicity, culture, and/or
gender? Allow students to thoroughly explore the issue. Which characters in the play do they agree with the most about who should decide whom one marries? Why?
Have students consider the following questions: To what extent can one believe one's own eyes? What is the nature of reality? In what way is illusion important? What part does imagination play in romance? Why do we need illusions in our life? Encourage them to talk about how they've changed their opinions of people since they were, say, ten years old? Who were their heroes then? Do they remember who they had a crush on? Has that changed, and if so, why?
By Mark Sheppard (adapted from IMPO, Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone)
Four students are each given a slip of paper with a number (one, two, three, or four), which they are to keep as a status number. They are not to tell anyone else their number. They are then given a situation in which the group must make a consensus decision, such as choosing a movie to see or video to rent, planning the menu for a party, or selecting one member of the group to run for class office. In pursuing the objective, each member of the group is to maintain his or her own status number and to determine the status number of the others, without asking or divulging. As the students role play their numbers, the numbers work as following:
1. Always in charge.
2. Participates in leadership, but defers to number one. May offer mediation.
3. Offers suggestions, but not leadership, and defers to number one and number two.
4. May offer suggestions, but always defers to the rest of the group.
After the scene is played, ask each player to identify what the status numbers of the others were before divulging their own. Ask audience members if they concur or differ in their perceptions of the status chain of command that they observed.
Four students are each told to secretly choose their own status number. Then they are given a scene situation in which the group must make a consensus decision, as suggested above. In pursuing the objective, each member of the group is to maintain his or her own status number and to
determine the status number of the others, without asking or divulging. After the scene is played, ask the audience to identify what they perceived as the status chain of command. Then ask each player to identify how he or she perceived the status of their scene partners before divulging their own.
Relationship to Text
Excellent examples of scenes involving status are the opening court and mechanical scenes in
A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the court scene, Duke Theseus is a definite number one and Egeus a feisty number two. Is Hermia number three? Who are the number fours? Does Helena change from a self-abasing number four in her scene with Hermia and Lysander to a number one or two in her monologue at the end of the scene? In the mechanical scene, Bottom, an amateur actor, insists on being in the number one status position, leaving Peter Quince to take the number two position if he wants to keep the scene moving forward (despite his role as director). Watch Peter Quince attempt to establish his number one status and then shift to number two. While Francis Flute plays at number three, Snug the Joiner, along with Robin Starveling and Snout are clearly number fours.
This activity is a useful getting-to-know-you exercise. Divide the students into pairs and have partners study one another's appearance; then have partners sit back-to-back and each one change three details of his or her appearance; for example the way they wear their hair, how their top is buttoned, which wrist they wear their watch on. When they turn back and face each other, each must try to spot the changes made.
Relationship to Text
Do the lovers love the inner qualities or the appearances? How does Oberon's magic flower (emotion) blur Bottom's reality to Titania?
Divide the students into small groups. Once the students are in groups call out the name of an object. Once the object is called out each group has to make the shape of that object out of their own body shapes, while the leader/teacher counts down from ten to zero. Usually every group will find a different way of forming the object. Examples could be: A car, a clock, a sewing machine, a birthday cake, a ship, and a key—anything you like.
Groups can also be given a few minutes to devise two objects of their own which the rest of the class then tries to guess.
Relationship to Text
Bottom and his friends, who have to devise their own costumes and scenery, perform Pyramus and Thisbe.