5/10/2007

A student has come to me for advice on how to have her hair styled. I am deeply honored that any person would place their trust and confidence enough in me as a teacher to ask my advice in such a matter. For the first time, I feel like my years of pedagogical training have paid off, and the rewards are sweet. We truly are molding young minds…and hair.

Anyway, I have advised this student to take great care in the selection of a hairstyle, as a high-maintenance style can often increase the anxiety levels of a student in an already high-stress school situation. I also tried to subtly hint that the stereoscopic properties of vision available to those who have full use of both eyes is not to be underrated.

So. All the hard work is finally paying off.

Today in class we finished reading Act 3 of Hamlet and Othello. Here are a few thoughts on the readings:

Hamlet

Act 3 has two giant, explosive events: The staging of Hamlet’s adapted play The Mousetrap, during which he practically molests Ophelia, and shocks his uncle/father into a violently guilty reaction to what he sees on stage. And then, as if this wasn’t emotional enough, Shakespeare tightens his grip on our already ripping hearts with the amazing encounter between Hamlet and Gertrude in Gertrude’s room. Not only does this scene feature a vaguely sexual encounter between Hamlet and his mother, but it also proves something we’ve suspected all along: Hamlet is seeing (and hearing) things that others can’t. Gertrude’s description of Hamlet when he is seeing the ghost is chilling. Apparently, when the ghost arrives Hamlet’s hair stands on end and he develops a crazed look in his eyes. This scene gives us serious doubts about Hamlet’s sanity, which makes it all the more ironic when, at the end of scene 4, he instructs his mother not to mention to Claudius that he, Hamlet, is only pretending to be crazy. I don’t think the queen would report anything like that, after what she saw. Basically, after act 3 the canon is packed with powder and the fuse is ready to be lit. All we need is fire, and act 4 should provide us a light.

Othello

Act 3 of Othello is all about the handkerchief. This is no ordinary handkerchief: This thing was made out of the silk crapped by a holy silkworm, embroidered with a magical design by an Egyptian priestess, and dyed in the blood of a young girl’s mummy. At least, that’s what Othello tells Desdemona when they discover that she has lost it. So, it’s a problem. A big, huge problem, which is what makes the final scene of the act, the conversation in which Cassio cavalierly passes off the handkerchief to his girl, Bianca, all the more bitter. This whole thing between Cassio and Bianca is a microcosm of larger events. (A microcosm is like a tiny representation of a more complicated situation.) In this case, Bianca becomes jealous that another woman has given the handkerchief to Cassio. Cassio claims that no woman gave it to him, which is ironic, since it came from Desdemona, whom Cassio is supposedly (but not actually, oh no!) having an affair with. There are ironies piled on top of ironies in all of this, and I just can’t stop smirking and going “hm” about it. Anyway, the scene ends with the handkerchief in Bianca’s hands, and various characters in each others’ bad graces. You know what I said about the “cannon” being “loaded” in the Hamlet section above? Ditto, here.

After the reading, we got started on some mini scene adaptations. Remember that to adapt something means to change it so it can be used for a new purpose. Basically, the assignment is to change a scene by modifying the characters, setting, script, and genre and then see if it still has any meaning, or how the meaning has changed.

Basically, students put themselves in groups, chose a scene “snippet” that I copied from the play, and prepared to perform a tiny scene, adapted from the original script.

At the bottom of this post, you can download the scene “snippets” that the groups could choose from, and the worksheet they used to start preparing their scenes. If you missed today, or are going to miss tomorrow, you may not be able to get the performance points but you could download the worksheet and fill it out using a scene snippet of your choice.

That’s kind of confusing. Come see me if you need help. Of the academic (non-hair) variety.

Ciao, bellas.

MT

Downloads:

Adaptation prep worksheet

Othello script selections

Hamlet script selections

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