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Session 11

What's in a name? We show you how to use the phrase a tower of strength - and bring you some useful phrases for talking about people you can rely on.

በዚህ ክፍል ያሉ ክፍለ ጊዜያት

ክፍለጊዜያት 11 ነጥብ።

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2
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    Activity 3

Activity 1

What's in a name?

The man they loved to hate
Richard III is one of Shakespeare's greatest villains - a real baddie who murdered lots of people - including members of his own family! Shakespeare's audiences loved to hate King Richard, so it's not surprising that actor Thomas Swann finds this role a bit difficult.

To do

In this video, King Richard is about to go into battle. As you watch, answer the question: how is he feeling about the fight - and why? 

ቨዲዮውን ተመልክተው ክንውኑን ይፈፅሙ

ፅሁፍ አሳይ ፅሁፍ ደብቅ

Narrator
It was a dark and stormy night. Thomas Swann is in his favourite pub, the Duck and Whistle. He's rehearsing the role of King Richard in Shakespeare's Richard III.

Thomas
The King's name is a tower of strength... Hmmm. I could play it quietly: The King's name is a tower of strength... or angrily: The King's name is a tower of strength...

Barmaid
Here you go Mr Will, Mr Thomas, two more ales.

Thomas
Will, how should I play this line? What is Richard's motivation here?

Will
Thomas, Thomas, don't you understand? King Richard is about to go into battle. The opposing army has six or seven thousand men.

Thomas
That's a lot of men!

Will
Richard is not afraid. He has three times that number of soldiers.

Thomas
Twenty thousand men - that's a big army!

Will
Yes, but Richard has something more powerful than even the greatest army. He has his name: King Richard. That name makes him strong; powerful. It makes ordinary people fear and respect him.

Thomas
So the name King Richard is as strong as a tower...

Will
Exactly. Richard's enemies don't have that.

Thomas
So this line needs strength and confidence.

Will
Yes. This play is about power - and what people will do to get it. Let us rehearse. I am Norfolk, your general. Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.

Thomas Swann as Richard III
Why, our battalion trebles that account. Besides, the King's name is a tower of strength

Which they upon the adverse party want.

Will
You have it! Well done! I'll drink to that. Another jug of ale! 

Barmaid
Here you are, sir.

Narrator
We'll leave them there for now. In Richard III, or as I like to call it, the Mafia play, King Richard murdered everyone that stood between him and the absolute power that he wanted, including the Prince of Wales, his brother Clarence, Misters Rivers, Vaughn and Grey, Lord Hastings, King Edward IV's two young sons - and his own wife! Of course, these days, you don't have to kill your family to be described as a tower of strength - you just have to be strong, reliable, trustworthy, dependable and good in a crisis. Like footballer David Beckham, who said:

Clip 1
Alex Ferguson was like a father to me. He was a tower of strength.

Clip 2
My husband was a tower of strength when I had that operation - he really looked after me well.

Barmaid
Mr Will, a message from your wife. She says if you're not home in five minutes, don't bother coming home ever again.

Thomas
The old ball and chain at it again, eh? Come on Will, have another beer!

Will
Hmmm... To beer, or not to beer: that is the question.

Answer
King Richard is confident about going into battle, because he has a bigger army than his enemy, and, more importantly, his name - King Richard - makes him strong and powerful.

To do

Time for a game! Answer these questions to help Richard win the battle.

From the pub to the battlefield

5 Questions

Answer these questions to win your battle.

እንኳን ደስ ያለዎ ሙከራውን አጠናቀዋል
Excellent! Great job! መጥፎ እድል ነጥብ አስመዝግበዋል :
x / y

How many did you get right?
3-4 - You've won the battle! 
0-2 - Oh dear - stay and practise again with Thomas!

Next

Before you go, can you remember who David Beckham described as a tower of strength? Click 'next activity' to check.

On the next pages, we'll explore the meaning and use of a tower of strength - and bring you some useful phrases to help you describe people who you can depend on. 

Session Vocabulary

  • For more great Shakespeare content visit our partner,The OU

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    A tower of strength

    Meaning
    The phrase a tower of strength describes someone who is strong, reliable, trustworthy, dependable and good in a crisis. 

    Example sentence
    My husband was a tower of strength when I had that operation - he really looked after me well.

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    Extra vocabulary

    a baddie
    a bad character in a story, film or play

    a battle
    a ​fight between ​armed ​forces

    to stick with someone through thick and thin
    to support a friend or partner through difficult experiences as well as good ones

    to have someone’s back
    to be prepared and ready to support or defend someone

    to stand by someone
    to support someone

    my rock
    describes a person who is supportive and helps you when times are difficult

    to count on someone
    to depend on someone

    to be there for someone
    to be available to provide support and comfort for someone

    a pillar
    a large post that helps to hold something up

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    About Shakespeare Speaks

    Shakespeare Speaks is a co-production between:

    BBC Learning English

    The Open University

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