Time-limited tasks are like a triple shot of caffeine …
It’s human nature, you panic. I don’t care what your name is. You can’t help it. Fuck, man, you panic on the inside, in your head, you know? You give yourself a couple of seconds. You get ahold of the situation. You deal with it. What you don’t do is start shooting up the place and start killing people. (Reservoir Dogs: Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
It’s less than a month to go before the Shakespeare exams my Y11s and Y13s will be taking. The Y12s and Y10s have mocks broadly over the same period.
Today’s post relates to three things I often say in the classroom:
Life’s pretty poor for Shylock as is, but his world falls apart when his flighty daughter elopes with a ne’er-do-well Christian lad, taking his fortune to boot. Famously, Act III scene i sees the dam of his frustration and resentment overwhelmed, leaving him only the potential satisfaction of revenge against his mortal enemy, Antonio.
But why is Shylock’s speech so memorably powerful?
It’s nearly a year (where has the time gone?) since I last picked up a book and decided I’d love to get down the pub for a session with the author (and bear in mind I’m still not drinking: day 70 today). Imagine me, Anthony Sher and Michael Bogadanov setting the Shakespearean world to rights over a few scoops …
Partly because I’m teaching Richard III to a new A Level class, partly because my exam class will benefit, should they ever visit (you know who you are), and partly because yes, they are fun.
You can see the full rules here, but if you’ve been before, the task is to write a prize-winning forensic analysis of a very short extract in just 250 words, working to OCR’s mark-scheme in order to provide some models for my students.
In this passage, I returned to the dramatic moment when deposed Queen Margaret of Anjou, devastated by the killings of her son and then her husband (within 17 days, historically), calls down the heavens to curse Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who in the Henry VI cycle did what had to be done. It’s a very tense moment …
Maybe it’s growing up in the 70s, but I enjoy an infantile dirty joke as much, if not more, than the next fellow. They don’t always work in the plays, or perhaps audiences are now vastly more sophisticated: I can imagine that even the weakest ones would have had them rolling in the aisles at The Globe.
This week, I decided to work my favourite Shakespearean knob-gag … ooh err!