by Michaela Moore
JDHS, ELA & Drama
To introduce the play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, I first put an image from a poster of the play on the overhead and had the students go through the Thinking Routine of SEE/THINK/WONDER:
After this Thinking Routine, I asked the students to complete a Crowdsourcing activity about Arthur Miller. The students found information quickly about Arthur Miller and came up and wrote in a word splash on the whiteboard fun and important facts. We took a few moments to discuss surprises and interesting facts found in table groups and in whole group.
Then I asked the students to prepare for notes: I introduced the 4 main characters from Death of a Salesman to students and asked them to choose one character that they would focus on in their project and notes. I instructed the students to write anything important down about the character (personality, weaknesses, strengths, choices, goals, motivations, etc) while we watched the play. After we finished watching and discussing the play, I passed out the text of the play and asked the students to fill in holes in their notes about their characters AND to add important quotes said by their characters, or important quotes others said about their characters.
Once, these notes were complete, I taught the students step by step how to draw a caricature of their character beginning with a sketch first and then moving into their final draft. We first discussed the idea of caricatures and how they were different from real portraits or pictures. We discussed the symbolic nature of caricatures. (Learned from work of Richard Jenkins).
2. Show the students how to draw a caricature from lines, shapes, and patterns and have them draw your example, and have them rough draft sketch out a caricature of their Death of a Salesman chosen character.
3. Show the students how to turn their sketch into a real caricature of their chosen character.
4. I showed the students how to do Richard Jenkins’ inking technique (using sharpie to outline your pencil drawing) and then coloring technique (how to use colored pencils to get different shades and different textures) and shared with the students Richard Jenkins’ helpful handouts on hair and faces.
5. I instructed the students to be mindful of symbolic colors and that I also wanted them to put symbolism into their entire caricature. I showed the students an example from Macbeth of Lady Macbeth. I also asked the students to include the character name symbolically and to also include descriptive words to their caricature.
Next came further research into their chosen character. I passed out two important charts to help the students dig down into their thinking and research of their characters. These charts were reconstructed from Richard Jenkins’ villain/superhero charts. This in depth research, along with the notes they took from the film and text of the play and their thinking and discussions while creating their caricatures, all worked to help them create the monologue poem.
I showed them an example of the poem about Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and discussed what had to be included in the poem: repetition, quotes from play, voice and spirit of character, figurative language, specific diction. (See Project Handout with Scoring Guide Document below.) The students again went through the Thinking Routine of See/Think/Wonder as a discussion to the example poem below.
The Foulfully Fair, Lady Macbeth!!
I am unwound and undone--
How did my journey end here?
My ripped soul echoes black shards of guilt--
Stains of scarlet sins,
(Treacherous and murderous)
Here’s the smell of blood still!
I am unwound and undone.
Was it only a nightmare that set my spirit
And turned my heart to ice?
Only deviant dreams of dusty death?
But water turns to bile in my gut and food is rotting Mannah
And I know that no imagined horror can dance in the day--
Am I insane?
Paralyzing fear tickles and prickles
The sinews of my psyche,
And a shouting silence full of sound and fury
Drives me toward madness!
I am unwound!
I am undone!
I cast my spells of poisonous lusts…
I weave a beaded web of villainous desires…
I am the witch of Giants,
False face hiding what my false heart doth know;
I am the Fiend of Cawdor;
Looking like an innocent flower but instead
The serpent under it;
I am the Sorceress of Scotland,
A creamed face loon damned black by the devil.
Reaching, grasping toward the pristine ceramic basin
Thirsting for cool, clean water…But even Pontius Pilate could not wash the blood
From his hands.
What’s done is done.
Something wicked this way comes and
My candles are all out.
Below is an example of a student poem:
I was extremely happy with this project. The students did an exciting and amazing job of digging deeply into a character and analyzing many aspects of that character. Below are links to important documents that you can view and use:
If you are a JSD teacher and would like to get a copy of the Richard Jenkins' SuperPowered Stories materials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A collection of JSD teachers' arts integration classroom experiences