I’m sitting here, once again, next to [Bismouth Pinklefungus] (see yesterday’s post), and I’m half-tempted to quiz him again on today’s activities (which bear a striking resemblance to yesterday’s) to see if, in fact, he has “learned” anything. [Mister Funglemeister], however, is otherwise occupied, deeply engrossed in a reading book he has brought with him to class today–a reading book which he procured from the public library specifically in response to an assignment I have given to all of you–an assignment which is due precisely seven days from now: Book Report #2. Thus, [Bismouth]’s current occupation reveals that he has finally internalized the rules and processes of this class, that he is planning ahead, that he is taking charge of his own destiny by completing work of great value not only to him personally, but also to his quantified grade for this class. Yes…[Bismouth Funkelpinky] has learned!
Today in class, we spent some time completing our viewing of the filmed stage production The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged. The second half of the play shows 5 different performances of Hamlet, which the 10th graders are in the middle of right now. The great thing about these adaptations is that they combine very stupid things (men in ugly wigs, lots of screaming, audience participation) with very smart things (a serious and enlightening Freudian analysis of Ophelia). I think most great art does this kind of a trick–it couches the most profound truths in the silliest settings. What they did with Ophelia was brilliant. They had the whole audience yelling different messages (each group representing the id, the ego, or a faction of the superego), with other characters swirling around her on stage, all of which made a convincing case that Ophelia’s only real option at that moment in the play is, frankly, madness and suicide. This is one of the hardest parts of the play to understand, and, amidst the stupidity of this particular “adaptation,” we see a perfectly plausible interpretation.
After that, we went on to read most of the rest of act 3 of Othello and Hamlet. I’ll post some additional thoughts on those tomorrow. Also tomorrow, we’ll start work on a mini scene adaptation exercise that I’m hoping will yield some smart-stupidity like unto what we saw on film today.
If you missed today, check out The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged from the library and watch it. Then read act 3 of the play your class is reading.