English Literature / Drama GCSE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Act 2, Scene 1 - Helena and Demetrius (workshop)

The director, Nancy Meckler, invites the actors to explore their characters through improvisation.

How might Helena and Demetrius have met and how might their relationship have developed?

This short film is from the BBC series, Shakespeare Unlocked.

Teacher Notes

This short film demonstrates how character interpretation through improvisation can build a back story around Helena and Demetrius.

This workshop contains two improvisations which explore possibilities for how Helena and Demetrius' relationship might have developed before they ended up in the wood.

Ask half your class to work in small groups to discuss the first improvisation: What insights into Helena, Demetrius and their relationship did this improvisation provide? Could they imagine other possibilities for how Helena and Demetrius might have met?

Ask the other half of the class to work in small groups to discuss what insights the second improvisation gave into the possibilities for interpreting the characters and how their relationship has developed.

Ask the groups to share their insights.

The production is set in the 1960s.

Ask students in what ways the relationship between Demetrius and Helena might be portrayed differently if the production was set in the present day.

How does the context subtly shift the characterisation in this scene?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/ 5 in Scotland.

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