There are many ways in which teachers might choose to adapt, develop or expand Shakespeare’s Kings’ Games. We have included below some suggestions on how to modify the game as well as ways in which students can follow up on what they have learned through discussion, homework and assessment.
If you have any suggestions for adapting Shakespeare’s Kings’ Games or feedback on how it went, we’d love to hear from you!
Alterations and extra activities:
- Enrich the specific gestures that have been assigned to each of the four actions performed by Richard by adding keywords from the moment in the play that goes with the action. For example, he might marry Anne by the gesture of clasping her hand AND the words ‘gentle Lady Anne’ or ‘Why dost thou spit at me?’ or ‘happiness forever’ (all from Act 1, scene 2).
- Ask students to run through the whole sequence several times in ‘fast motion’: this reinforces the progression of events.
- Attach quotations to the back of some or all character cards so that characters can speak their own lines to dramatise the sequence. Eg. After attaining the throne, Richard says: ‘Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead,/And would have it suddenly performed.’ Having students speak the lines of their characters at appropriate points will help to build ownership and understanding of their roles.
- You might take time to work on each speaker’s performance of the spoken words—refining the sense of whom they are addressing and what they mean. This provides an avenue from plot into exploring the language of the play.
- Spread the five tableaux events over five classes. Begin each class with a tableau and the game, before moving to incorporate reading of key scenes to flesh out the dramatic context.
- Ask students to create a grand tableau/royal family tree.
- Ask a small team of students to use all the other students to design a grand tableau that reflects the action of the whole play.
Points for class discussion and homework options:
- What perspective does it give you on Richard to see him as a ‘player’? What associations does the word have? Look for quotations in the play that suggest Richard is an actor/disguised/false etc.
- Set up the final tableau to prompt this discussion of acting, perhaps adding Shakespeare as a character. The play was written for Elizabeth I whose grandfather (Henry VII) is in the play. How might the context for which Shakespeare was writing have influenced how he writes about the character Richard?
- Find an instance of each of the following actions in the play: murder, marriage, muddying, making friends. Write a paragraph on how the action is revealed through the language. Consider the following: Do we see the action take place on stage? Does it surprise us or do we see it coming? Does it surprise the characters involved? Is there a turning point in each scene where the outcome becomes inevitable? How artful/artistic/ingenious is Richard’s action (consider especially his language and rhetoric)?
- Choose one of the following characters: Old Duchess of York (Richard’s mother), Queen Elizabeth (wife of Edward IV), or Queen Margaret (wife of Henry VI). None of these characters is directly involved in the play’s action but their perspectives on the action are important. Read the speeches given by your character and write a page about how their ‘angle’ influences ours as audience members.