Age cannot wither him …

BH 2017:2018 timetable

… nor custom stale his infinite variety.  (Enobarbus:  ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA:  II.ii.245-246) [bastardised by me, obviously]

Our timetables for next year were finalised last Friday, and this is what mine looks like – at least in terms of Shakespeare / EMP material.  It’s more of the same, basically – although I finally lost The Tempest – which Top Set Y11 had voted to study back in the day when I had complete freedom about what to teach.  I think it could be the last year I teach this combination – I want to make at least one change …

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PTS 04/023: Is that you, baby?

BH bruce springsteenOr just a brilliant disguise?

… as The Boss might remark. A guy who, perhaps appositely in the light of this post, I admire for his authenticity as much as his music.

The Taming of the Shrew: Act III

By now, I wonder if anyone is who they say they are in this play. Poor old Christopher Sly‘s been conned into thinking he’s a Lord with a young, beautiful wife, remember: and that was BEFORE the play properly started … When I see the Stage Direction:

“Enter LUCENTIO [as Cambio], HORTENSIO [as Licio] and BIANCA”

(who I suspect is not as pure, dutiful, or even as nice as she seems), my heart sinks a little.

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Crimes against Shakespeare 003

BH exam mistakes

or simply Much Ado About Nothing … ?

students were in tears after the exam

A multiple choice question for the adults.  Or for my students, who sat their Shakespeare exam on Monday just gone.  You sit an exam where you have a choice of two questions.  One question appears to make no sense. Do you:

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The Long Goodbye …

BH long goodbye

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.  (Brutus, Julius Caesar:  Act V, scene I)

This morning, at 9am, my Y11 students sit their first GCSE English exam – 1 hour, 45 minutes on The Tempest and Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four … and so begins the ‘long goodbye’ …

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Beat the Teacher (Part 2)

BH memory tricks

Our Y11 (15/16 year old) students have the first of their English Literature GCSE exams on Monday

This is the last year, at my school, when we will (effectively) have autonomy over the texts we teach.  Next year, we will only offer Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet at GCSE.  It sounds like a retrograde move, but what it does ensure – I suppose – is that we have teachers, multiple, who can deliver the texts, both in the classroom and – importantly, considering I am in school today (Sunday) – in revision sessions.  I am largely in school today because I’m the only one who can do The Tempestnobody’s fault but mine, as Led Zeppelin might say.

The AQA specification offers the following texts:

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A plague on both your houses …

BH The Black Death 2‘When ignorant men are overwhelmed by forces totally beyond their control and their understanding it is inevitable that they will search for some explanation within their grasp.  When they are frightened and badly hurt then they will seek someone on whom they can be revenged. […]  What was needed, therefore, was a suitable target for the indignation of the people, preferably a minority group, easily identifiable, already unpopular, widely scattered and lacking any powerful protector.’

Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, (The Folio Society, London: 1997)  Cover image:  Francis Mosley

The plague was too immediate, too visceral, for Shakespeare to include more than a passing reference to it in his plays.  In Romeo and Juliet it’s a factor in the tragedy, but at a safe distance.

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