English Literature / Drama GCSE: Macbeth - Act 5, Scene 1 - Candle in the dark (workshop)

The director and actors experiment with the staging of the sleepwalking scene.

What happens to the relationships when the whole of the scene is played in a small circle of light?

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

Teacher Notes

This short film could be used to demonstrate different staging techniques and how this echoes light and dark imagery from the play.

In pairs, ask your students to discuss the following questions:

-What is the effect of playing the scene in a small pool of light? -Would your students choose to play it this way? -What would this practical performance choice tell us about Lady Macbeth and her journey? -If they were directing would students choose for Lady Macbeth to know the doctor and gentlewoman are there or not? Why?

It has been suggested that most, if not all, of the scenes in Macbeth could take place in the dark.

In groups, ask students to look at some of the other scenes in the play, and consider how lighting them in a different way might affect the audience.

Ask students to try and find as many references to light and darkness in the play as they can.

How important a theme is the contrast between light and darkness, and how does it relate to the kind of choice that Macbeth was speaking about in his soliloquy, ‘If it were done’?

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.

More from Shakespeare Unlocked - Macbeth

Act 5, Scene 1 - Sleepwalking
Act 5, Scene 1 - Sleepwalking Queen (workshop)
Act 5, Scene 1 - Unlocking the words (workshop)
About the 2011 RSC production
Act 1, Scene 7 - Persuading Macbeth (workshop)
Act 1, Scene 7 - To Kill the King
Act 1, Scene 7 - Whether to kill the king (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 2 - Bloody Daggers
Act 2, Scene 2 - Hearing noises (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 2 - Rhythm of the language (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 2 - The king is dead (workshop)