Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sneaky ways to do close reading: Day 6 of TSI

Such a productive day today at TSI!  We were considerably less frenetic and more energized.

Lecture with Margaret Maurer:  The Last Act of The Merchant of Venice

Techie note:  we started to use this week as a backchannel during lectures.  It really helps us to clarify points without disturbing the lecturer and let's us share ideas and extensions to the lecture.

Margaret's lecture argued that Act 4 with the trial scene is necessary for Act 5 to take place.  In Act 5, we see nothing of Shylock and are reminded that it is a comedy.  My friend Rob said it made him uncomfortable to cheer for the racists when they get married, and I tend to agree.

Margaret discussed the love action of Merchant as the primary action.  It is all about Bassanio and Portia and Antonio.  Bassanio and Shylock both have bonds to seal, but the main bond is for Bassanio to seal with Portia.

The tricksy maneuvers that both undo Shylock and trap Bassanio involve Portia as the agent.  She is quite a clever girl.

Also, there is a great emphasis on reading in the play.  Reading the bond and reading the riddles on the caskets.

One funny remark Margaret made referred to the scene with Gobbo and Old Gobbo.  She said it was basically full of "your mother" jokes.

Curriculum Workshop with Mike LoMonico

We had such a fun time with "LoMo" today!

First we did an exercise where we cut an 80 line scene down to 40 lines.  What a great way to have students close read without knowing they are doing it. (insert evil laugh).  It makes students really think about what is absolutely necessary to keep the action of the play.  After they cut the scene in half, you can give them back 10 lines and see where they put them.

Next we did the lesson from Shakespeare Set Free called Promptbooks.  This is where you take a short scene and write how the characters enter and move (blocking), their motivation, and their stage business.  What do you end up with?  Another close reading!  You have tone words, character motivation, and syntax.  I loved it!

Tomorrow, we have a monologue due in Performance Workshop and I am a little nervous about it.  I have also spent my evening having meetings with two different groups, eating, blogging, memorizing, and planning.  So many things pulling me in all directions!!  What blessed chaos!

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