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Play On! Digital Study Guide

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PLAY ON!

ABOUT THE CABARET

Play On!
A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape
Curated by Robert Markus, Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis

Directed by Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis

Play On!  House Program
Selections from Play On! Song List

Grade and Curriculum Connections

  • Grade 5+
  • Global Competencies: Critical Thinking, Innovation, Creativity, Self-Directed Learning, Collaboration, Communication and Citizenship
  • The Arts
  • English
  • Language
  • Canadian and World Studies
  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Synopsis

Shakespeare's influence on Western culture extends even into your favourite pop hits. Whether it be direct lines from his plays appearing in Top 40 lyrics or whole songs inspired by his plots, whether the borrowers be Taylor Swift, Madonna, Elton John, The Beatles, Prince or Radiohead, Shakespeare is still there, lurking in the mainstream, as cool and as relevant as ever. This lively celebration of terrific tunes affords a great opportunity to introduce a younger audience to Shakespeare's continuing role in popular culture.

Themes and Motifs

  • Shakespeare's Cultural Influence
  • The Power of Pop Music
  • Music, Memory and Nostalgia
  • The History of Musical Genres
  • Making Music Our Own

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • What comes to mind when you think of Shakespeare?
  • When something is described as, "Shakespearean," what does that mean to you?
  • Why do you think Shakespeare has been so influential with regard to Western pop culture?
  • How do contemporary popular music artists include Shakespeare in their work in a way that offers a new perspective or interpretation?
  • Which song resonated with you most? Why do you think this is the case?

MINDS ON

Objective: Students will explore an excerpt from one of Shakespeare's plays and use it to create their own music inspired by the text and their knowledge and experience of pop music.

Materials: Computer/internet access, List of Suggested Shakespeare Scenes and Monologues

Directions:

  • Invite students to select a scene or monologue from the list provided.
  • Give students time to identify the themes and motifs in their chosen scene or monologue.
  • Ask students to take their chosen scene or monologue and, using their understanding of popular music and experience of this cabaret, write a chorus and a verse for an original, Shakespeare inspired pop song.
  • As an extension, invite students to record their new song and share it with the class.

Debriefing Questions:

  • What was the most challenging part about writing a portion of your own song?
  • Did you notice any musical influences creeping into your creative process? Did your new song sound like other songs you know?
  • How do themes and motifs enhance the meaning of what you are saying in your music?

CONNECTION TO THE ARCHIVES

In 1957, Duke Ellington composed Such Sweet Thunder, a jazz suite commissioned by the Stratford Festival and inspired by the works of Shakespeare. Explore the concert program here to learn more about which plays he included and transformed into music.

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The Stratford Festival's Archives maintains, conserves and protects recent and historical records about the Festival and makes those materials available to people around the world. Our multi-media archival holdings date from 1952 and extend through to contemporary materials. We house correspondence, production records, Board minutes, photography, design artwork, scores, audio-visual records, costumes, props and set decoration, press releases and other promotional materials: these document the processes that bring a production to the stage and reflect all aspects of mounting a play from the administrative to the creative and beyond.  

In addition to visiting the Archives in person, you can explore our online catalogue.

 

RESOURCES

Basic Song Structure Explained
Difference Between a Theme and Motif
Play On! Showstarters
Study Guide PDF  Play On!
List of Suggested Shakespeare Scenes and Monologues

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - Act 3, scene 2
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - Act 5, scene 1
  • As You Like It - Act 1, scene 3 (excerpt)
  • As You Like It - Act 3, scene 6 (excerpt)
  • Hamlet - Act 2, scene 2
  • Hamlet - Act 4, scene 5
  • Macbeth - Act 2, scene 3
  • Macbeth - Act 5, scene 1
  • Romeo and Juliet - Act 3, scene 5 (excerpt)
  • Romeo and Juliet - Act 4, scene 3 (excerpt)

Contact us to book a streamed viewing of this production for your class: groups@stratfordfestival.ca

 

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TOOLS FOR TEACHERS SPONSORED BY

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PRODUCTION SUPPORT IS GENEROSULY PROVIDED BY BARBARA & JOHN SCHUBERT.


SUPPORT FOR THE FILMING OF PRODUCTIONS IN THE 2021 SEASON IS GENEROUSLY PROVIDED BY RICHARD &  MONA ALONZO, THE JOHN AND MYRNA DANIELS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, THE HENRY WHITE KINNEAR FOUNDATION, MARTIE & BOB SACHS, ROBERT & JACQUELINE SPERANDIO, ALICE & TIM THORNTON AND BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR.