After a delay… Twelfth Night… musings

22 06 2011

Having never lived in a house with fewer than six people, having a place just on the outskirts of the chaos and noise that is New Town Plaza in Shatin is a blessed relief but also a somewhat surprising chore. Being required to think up meals for myself, do all my own chores, buy groceries, and clean up after myself is somewhat burdensome, but it’s all still within the first flush of excitement so there’s that going for it at the moment, although none of it is entirely new to me.

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for the dryer to finish doing its work. My flatmate and I got this dryer cheap from a family from work who are leaving to go back to the US, and baby cockroaches crawl out of it at night. This is how living independently has given me balls: I kill them with my bare hands.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about since the last time I blogged (postaweek2011 fail again…) is what things I would do if I had infinite time. I expect that the reason I’ve been so chilled about things is that it’s the summer holidays right now, and the most pressing things on my mind are where to go for a break in July, and how to go about teaching Twelfth Night (1996). I watched the movie version again last night, and enjoyed it just as much as the last time I watched it, back in 1999…! The play itself is a joy to read, but then again I wonder whether that’s because I naturally love drama and Shakespeare in particular meets needs that no other ‘literary great’ can.

What I need to work on next is how to divide the play into manageable sections for the freshmen to bite off, and which parts of the movie to show when. I also want to do a little research on other movie versions to use as comparisons, as doing this with Romeo and Juliet worked relatively well for the past 3 years. I used Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of the play with Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), which would result in some pretty good discussions about ‘modern’ adaptations and ‘older’ ones, and I’d find that approximately 50% of my students would respond to a more traditional presentation whilst the other half of the classes would go for the all-guns-blazing, MTV-style offering.

There are several allegedly rather-good adaptations of Twelfth Night (something else that I love about the universality of Shakespeare is how many theatrical and cinematographical versions there are of each play) but I have to say I have some hesitations in showing She’s the Man (2006), a movie that supposedly is based on the play, but which detracts very significantly from the plot in areas other than the names of the characters and the original premise. I remember enjoying it, but definitely feeling cheated when I had been under the impression that it was an adaptation of the play.

Still, the task for the rest of the vacation is going to revolve heavily around planning this unit, and making Shakespeare come alive for teenagers 🙂

This is one of the things I find to be somewhat of a struggle though, making my passion and love for Shakespeare come across in my teaching so that my students catch that love too. As always, I welcome suggestions and thoughts.

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