The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Study Guide

Post-show activities 

Let’s Get silly…

Listed below are three improv games to help your students have fun with Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s work can feel daunting to any student. The games listed below will help with iambic pentameter and ol’ Billy Shakes complicated plot lines. (See the forest through the trees as it were…)

Shakespeare ‘Blind Lines’

Select two people to be your volunteers. Have the rest of the class assign a scene to the actors. (Example: You’re at the park or you’re at the zoo.)

Assign one of the two actors to carry one of Shakespeare’s plays with him/her. Make clear that the actor with the script can only speak lines he/she selects at random from the script. The job of the second actor will be to listen, react, and improv through the scene in a justified manner. If the non-Shakespearean actor doesn’t understand a line the first actor chooses, say so in character within the scene. Play this game until the scene runs it’s course.

Have fun with this! It can get super silly!

Shakespearean Interpreter

This is a game for four people. Assign two of the actors to be the Shakespeare characters and assign the other two to be interpreters of them. The interpreters will kneel on the sides of your stage while the Shakespearean actors act out the scene the audience will assign to them. (Like the above game, they can be in the zoo or on a date, etc.)

Have the Shakespearean actors speak as authentically as possible in the scene. Use a lot of ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ whenever you’re in doubt! Once a Shakespearean actor finishes a line, his/her assigned interpreter will then ‘translate’ whatever he/she had said. Once the interpreter has finished translating, the other pair will continue the scene with a Shakespearean response and subsequent translation. Continue to take turns and have fun!

Here is an example:

Shakespearean Actor 1: Whither thou dost wander, madam?

Interpreter 1: Where you going, boo?

Shakespearean Actor 2: Where e’er I doth wander twill it be my own accord, good sir.

Interpreter 2: Mind your business, fool. I’ll go where I want.

Shakespeare 1: How now, maiden! Thine mood is a foul one and I shalt not tolerate such hateful prattle.

Interpreter 1: Cool your jets, woman! I’m not in the mood for your ‘tude.

ETC, ETC … Until the scene runs it’s course.

Shakespeare in a Minute

Review one of the Shakespeare plays linked in the Play Synopses of Shakespeare’s entire works. (Here) Select four volunteers that are familiar with whatever play you have reviewed. Explain to them that they now have 1 minute to tell the story in it’s entirety. Emphasize that in order to tell this story efficiently they must stick to the important bits and focus on the action. NOT the tiny details. Also, it does not have to be perfect. Just have fun and tell the story!

Give them time to hammer out how and who tells which parts to move the story along. Once they are ready, tell them to begin and start your timer.

Once they have successfully told their story in 60 seconds, give them 30 seconds to tell it even faster. And then 15 seconds, and finally 5 seconds.


Pantomime the following with some spoken word…

*Once upon a time there was a guy named Hamlet who’s dad was killed by his Uncle.

*Hamlet’s dad haunted him to tell him who killed him and to avenge his murder.

*Hamlet shuns his love and slowly goes mad trying to figure out what to do and who he is as a person.

*Everyone dies in the end.

Ta-Da! HAMLET in a minute.


Below is one of Shakespeare enthusiast’s favorite games. Shakespeare is known for his colorful and fun insults in his plays. There are whole websites devoted to this!

Below is a template to help create some real zingers… Have fun!

shakespeare insult generator.jpg