BARD TO GO: Kissing and Courting Teachers’ Guide

BARD TO GO: Kissing and Courting
Teachers’ Guide
This guide is intended for teachers. It provides an overview of the performance’s theme, a
brief description of the performance itself, a specific listing of the play scenes used, and a
few discussion questions for in-class use for both prior to and post production viewing.
Theme and Performance
How do you convince someone else to fall in love with you? This is a question that
Shakespeare asked over and over again in so many of his plays. Our Bard-to-Go
performance this year focuses on those scenes of love and courtship. In the course of the
production your students will see how complicated this whole falling-in-love thing can be.
They will see Rosalind, of As You Like It, court her love, Orlando while disguised as a boy
– by trying to “convince” him to “cure” his love by pretending to court her disguised self.
Meanwhile, she’s got to deal with Phebe, a shepherdess who is being courted by her
adoring shepherd, falling hopelessly in love with her (again, with her boy’s disguise!).
Finally, even her loyal friend and cousin, Celia, falls victim to the love of Orlando’s
brother, Oliver. Meanwhile, on a remote desert island, we see young love unfolding
between Prince Ferdinand of Naples and Miranda, Prospero’s daughter, in The Tempest.
Prospero, who knows that forbidden fruit is the sweetest, places obstacles in their path to
make their initial attraction grow into a deeper affection.
The confusing gender politics of As You Like It are also present in Twelfth Night, Viola is
also disguised as a young man like Rosalind. She is courts Olivia on behalf of her lord,
Orsino. Olivia cannot fall in love with Orsino (who has managed to catch Viola’s
affections), but she is unquestionably attracted to Viola’s method of courtship.
Shakespeare is also not afraid to show the darker, more manipulative aspects of courtship.
In Richard III, we can see the power of Shakespeare’s language when the evil Richard
convinces Lady Anne to marry him – only days after he killed her husband and father-inlaw!
Performance Style: Original Practices
Shakespeare’s theatre was very different than the theatres we’re used to seeing plays and
movies in today. Our production this year strives to bring some of this Renaissance theatre
magic to you by performing using theatrical techniques and practices that were common in
Shakespeare’s time. Some of these original practices include:
Performance in non-traditional theatrical spaces. The touring companies of
Early Modern England performed not only in purpose-built playhouses like the
Globe and the Blackfriars, but in such venues as innyards and noblemen's houses.
Finding creative ways to use a variety of spaces—including school auditoriums,
media centers, and gymnasiums—keeps the actors on their toes and results in an
exciting and spontaneous performance atmosphere.
Universal lighting. Shakespeare's audiences sat in the same light as the actors,
either in outdoor playhouses or in candle-lit indoor playhouses. The members of
the audience were visible to the actors and to each other. Because of this visible
audience, many playwrights of that era wrote the audience into their plays, giving
Rachel S. Anderson ٠ Grand Valley State University
Fall, 2008
the actors lines to speak directly to the audience. Bard-to-Go performs in universal
lighting and employs audience contact in its performances, making audience
members feel as if they are a part of the play.
Minimal sets. Acting companies of 16th and 17th century England did not employ
the elaborate sets that 21st century theatre audiences have come to expect. The
texts of the plays, the actors' actions, and the audience's imagination helped to
transform a nearly bare stage into all of the locations necessary in a given play.
Using minimal or no sets also means that the company can travel easily and can
perform in venues of many different sizes without lengthy set-up time.
Doubling. Records from Shakespeare’s own period suggest that the acting
companies of the time were relatively small, typically employing 10-15 actors.
Since many of the plays performed during the period have 30-40 characters, we
know that each actor played multiple roles in any given production. During a
performance by Bard-to-Go, you may see the same actor play as many as three
different roles. This practice demands great skill from the actors, who must be able
to distinguish their characters very clearly for the audience.
This year’s production features scenes from four different plays. The major play is As You
Like It, whose action structures the production. Scenes from The Tempest, Richard III, and
Twelfth Night compose the counterpoint to the complex goings-on in the Forest of Arden.
As You Like It
(from Act III scene ii, Act III scene v, Act IV scene i, Act IV scene iii, Act V scene ii,
Act V scene iv)
In the first scene, we are introduced to a banished Orlando, hopelessly in love with
Rosalind—and writing very bad poetry to prove it. Rosalind, having been banished from
court herself with her cousin, Celia, is also in the Forest of Arden. The complication?
Rosalind has disguised herself as a boy while on the run in the Forest. But she wants to
spend time with Orlando, so she convinces him to “court” her as “Rosalind” to cure him of
his unmanly affliction of love. But she finds the charade hard to keep up as she falls more
and more deeply in love with him—much to her cousin Celia’s exasperation.
When we return to the Forest, Rosalind and Celia encounter Phebe and Silvius. Silvius, a
shepherd, is hopelessly in love with Phebe, a shepherdess. Phebe, however, is not so
smitten and tries to shake him. Rosalind, overhearing her, tries to give her some “sisterly”
advice to return Silvius’ affections. This advice backfires on her, though, when Phebe
immediately falls for the disguised Rosalind!
The third visit to the Forest complicates these various love triangles when Orlando woos
Rosalind in jest, Silvius delivers a love letter to Rosalind from Phebe, and Oliver,
Orlando’s brother shows up and is immediately captivated by Celia, Rosalind’s faithful
cousin. Our production ends when these complications are finally sorted out by Rosalind’s
excellent management skills—and the group’s ability to break into song.
The Tempest
(from Act I scene ii and Act III scene i)
When we enter the world of The Tempest, we see Prince Ferdinand, who has been
Rachel S. Anderson ٠ Grand Valley State University
Fall, 2008
shipwrecked alone (so he things) on a desert island. It is in fact Prospero’s magical island,
which he shares with his daughter Miranda and the sprits Ariel and Caliban. When
Ferdinand sees Miranda, he’s immediately attracted to her, and she to him. Prospero, who
engineered the storm that brought Ferdinand to his island, makes sure that the two young
lovers turn their initial affection into deeper love by pretending to be against the match.
The second scene we include shows Ferdinand hard at work at a never-ending magical task
that Prospero has set him. Miranda finds him and before the scene ends they have pledged
their love to one another—much to Prospero’s satisfaction.
Richard III
(from Act I scene ii)
In the complex politics of the Ward of the Roses, Richard, not yet a king, decides to marry
Lady Anne to help him gain the throne. Wooing her, however, is complicated by the fact
that he has recently murdered both her husband and her father-in-law; in fact, Anne is
leading her father-in-law’s funeral procession when Richard approaches her. Nevertheless,
Richard woos Anne – and manages to win her, despite the fact that she hates his guts.
Twelfth Night
(from Act I scene v)
In this scene, Viola, disguised as a boy, is carrying out her duty as a page to Orsino, the
Duke whom she serves (and is secretly in love with). She approaches Olivia, Orsino’s
object of affection, to try to win Olivia’s love for her master. However, Olivia is attracted
to Viola, instead. This complicates matters, to say the least.
Discussion Questions
Pre-Performance Discussion
1. Have you ever tried to get someone to like you? What did you do? How did
you let that person know you liked him or her?
2. Have you ever noticed someone trying to get your attention? How did you let
this person know that their attention was wanted? Or not wanted?
3. You’re going to see a production that shows how one author, Shakespeare, wrote
about the idea of “courtship.” What other texts (books, short stories, movies,
comic books, television shows) have you read that show people falling in love?
What do those texts seem to say about how or why this happens?
4. Why do you think people fall in love?
5. Do you think people who lived a long time ago fell in love in the same way we
do now? What might have been different or similar?
Rachel S. Anderson ٠ Grand Valley State University
Fall, 2008
Post-Performance Discussion
1. Which storyline/character did you enjoy the most? Why?
2. In As You Like It, Orlando and Phebe both woo a disguised Rosalind. Do you
think either of them ever sees through her disguise? Why or why not? How
about any other character?
3. Both Celia and Oliver make fun of Rosalind and Orlando for falling so deeply in
love. What is so humorous about these scenes? What is Shakespeare making
fun of, do you think?
4. Do you think Miranda and Ferdinand (from The Tempest) fell in love the minute
they saw each other? Why do you think Prospero, Miranda’s father, meddled so
much with their relationship?
5. In the scene from Richard III, how did Richard convince Anne to marry him?
How does his last line (“I’ll have her, but I’ll not keep her long”) make you feel
about him?
6. In the scene from Twelfth Night, why do you think Olivia falls in love with the
disguised Viola, even though she was so resistant to falling in love with Orsino?
What does Viola do to change her mind?
7. How many forms of courtship or wooing did you see in this show? Which ones
seemed to work? Which didn’t?
8. Women’s roles have changed a lot from Shakespeare’s time to now; how do you
think these scenes would be different if Shakespeare wrote them today?
9. What do you think Shakespeare thought about how people fall in love?
Rachel S. Anderson ٠ Grand Valley State University
Fall, 2008