QotW: 16 July 2018 (#49)

Hot ice and wondrous strange snow: the appetite for articulation …

BH DeLorean_Launch
Destination 1592 … [a]
Frequently, I ask my class to step into the time machine and join me back in 1592.

Why then?

Conveniently, it’s as close as we can get to dating both Richard III and Edward II, my Key Stage 5 texts.  The other plays I teach at the moment – Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth – follow on from here.

This period was a crucible in which Drama as we know it was being born, alchemically transmuted from the didactic Morality Plays into something fresh and exciting.  With my Marxist critical hat on, if we can understand the contextual elements poured into that cauldron, we can better appreciate and analyse the resultant heady brew.

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Forensic Friday (#05): RIII – V.v.61-65

Richard III is fooling very few of us with his inclusive pronouns …

BH freedom

I’ve had to take a week out, basically, through pressures of work.  It could easily have extended into a fortnight, but to paraphrase Lord Foul – the Sauron-style character in Stephen Donaldon‘s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – I am ‘stubborn yet’.

So, where were we?

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Forensic Friday (#4): RIII III.ii.39-42

 

BH mexico germany
A nice positive GIF for my Y12 class … you CAN score, people!

‘SQUEAKY BUM TIME’:  the point towards the end of a football game, or season, when you hold a slender lead but are almost shitting yourself, in case something goes horribly wrong …

– – –

I’m publishing this with a exactly a week to go before my Y12s face their end of year exam –  a full exam on everything we’ve done this year: Tennyson‘s ‘Maud’; Marlowe‘s Edward II; and of course, Richard III.  Evidence suggests my students are in full ‘squeaky bum’ mode, despite my best efforts to reassure them.  And, hey, it’s the World Cup:  if Mexico (one of ‘my teams’ can hang on to a 1-0 lead for an hour against Germany, I think you can hang on to what I have taught you this year for another seven days?

You know what to do: especially (for the first question) if you have been reading these …

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Forensic Friday (#03): RIII I.iv.180-183

It’s dawning on Clarence that he won’t talk his way out of this one …

“Do you do ‘PEEFE’* on Saturday nights, Sir?” one wag asked me, to general titters of amusement in C5.

‘Why not?  It’s fun.’ I replied.  And it is.  So why not?

Why not, actually, spend some time thinking again about RIII, I.iv?  Thinking about a grown man who has such a terrifying nightmare that he asks another to sit with him whilst he tries to get some sleep.  About a man desparately pleading for his life in every way he possibly can (see the Blues Brothers, above), when faced with two murderous executioners.  Much more fun than Love Island, surely?

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Forensic Friday (#02): RIII I.ii.107-109

Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk, Sir!

Subtitled: This Charming Man

BH the smiths

What kind of teacher asks their students to do something they wouldn’t do themselves?

My latest Y12 Homework task was titled, yes, This Charming Man – students were asked to analyse the exchange between Richard and Anne in Act I scene ii of Richard III.  Those who were feeling a bit flash were challenged to get in as many song titles as they could from The Smiths discography.

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Forensic Friday (#01): RIII I.i.20-21

We can give those long dead words tone, inflection, pace … and meaning.

THIS is what we do, students.

We are archaeologists of the written word.  Remember that.

BH skeleton2We take our soft brushes and gently but resolutely stroke away the accumulated layers of popular misconception, plain bullshit, and systemic Shakesnobbery that surrounds a text until we are left with the bare bones – the words themselves …

Then – armed with contextual knowledge that keeps us somewhere on the Continuum of Plausibility – we ‘perform’ (and that is precisely the word, so enjoy the performative aspect of the work) forensic autopsies on those long-dead words: we dissect, analyse and record our findings.  

Occasionally, what we’re looking at might seem as alien as some of the stuff Scully chops up in the X-Files, but we persevere, we find points of reference, and with care we perform a kind of necromancy: we can practically bring the sample in front of us to life.  

We can give those long dead words tone, inflection, pace … and meaning.

THIS … … … is OCR H472/01 (Drama and Poetry pre-1900), A Level English Literature, section 1, question A … your Shakespeare extract task.
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A Restless Ecstasy …

Here’s looking at you, H …

BH RIII I i 1.001

So.

It’s been a long, hard, day.  No, really!  In amongst the pre-school meeting; the marking; the trying to keep your errant Year 11s just on this side of hysteria, given they have their second English Lit exam on Friday; the data (two classes’ worth, by lunchtime, thanks very much); the lunchtime storytelling club for younger pupils; the broken photocopiers; and the almost insignificant matter of actually teaching,  you need an oasis of calm.

Or two …

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