Making Curriculum Pop

I teach grade 10 in Saskatchewan. A part of our curriculum is this play. Other Shakespearean plays taught in my school are "Romeo and Julliet" and "Hamlet", both of which have decent popular movies and other content to use.

I find Macbeth has very little that engages the students besides audio. I do use Rocketboom as a help for struggling students.

Any suggestions on some additional material or a video of Macbeth that is not Polaski's version but of that calibre?

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I'm afraid I don't have any recommendations. I struggled w/my Macbeth unit this year as well, but have heard and read countless teachers announce that kids LOVE this play and have never struggled to get students engaged. It helps to know that I'm not the only one struggling. For the fifth act, I had students work in groups to act it out in a modern context and at least it was enjoyable. (They have to understand what happened in order to revamp it. I also encouraged them to have fun with it an make it light-one was set at KFC with sort of "The Office" like characters.)

I will be following this thread to see what others have come up with to improve student engagement!!! (My unit.) Thanks!
I think there was a film call "Scotland, PA" in the early 2000's. It's an updated version of MacBeth set in 1975. I honestly don't know what the film rating was, but it got pretty good notices and would be an interesting alternative if appropriate for grade 10.

There is also Throne of Blood by Akira Kurosawa which is based on MacBeth.
Dear Endongermann,

Ahhh, the Scottish play - well first off there are some fun graphic novels/picture book retellings of it that are great resources:
1. Marcia Williams breaks the whole play down into two pages: Tales from Shakespeare
2. Shakespeare's Macbeth
3. Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth
4. Puffin Graphics: Macbeth

Allusions/Retellings/Companion Works etc.
1. There is MacHomer (online video here)
2. In the Simpson's episode The Regina MonologuesHomer says, "Look Macbeth!" and Marge warns Homer to never say that name again, because the play is cursed. He keeps saying it and eventually the sign falls down and goes up in flames.
3. Cosby Show, “Theo and Cockroach.” Season 2, Episode 15
Original Airdate: January 30, 1986
Theo and Cockroach manage to learn Macbeth and by writing a rap to help them remember the play.
4. Animaniacs, Number : AN162 - "MacBeth" - From the famous Shakespearean scene, of course: Act IV, Scene 1, lines 10-15, 18-25, and, slightly modified, 61-62. Dot is "Second Witch", Slappy is "Third Witch", which leaves Hello Nurse as "First Witch
5. The Reduced Shakespeare Company does a wonderful short MacBeth - you can buy this on DVD or watch the clip here...
6. This Chicago (my hometown) troupe, 500 Clown, does a bizarre silent MacBeth - search the web for more details but you get the literal "power grab" theme from this trailer.
7. Some teachers have told me that they like to use Matchbox Twenty song "Unwell" to discuss lady MacBeth.
8. Then my wife and I, when we do Mindblue presentations play the McLachlan song "World On Fire" we were unable to license the lyrics so we workshop it at a lot of our presentations. The song itself is extremely rich and has a wonderful video but we've made it into a "Lit Link" for Hamlet - you can easily remix it for MacBeth as many character's "worlds are on fire" - PDF attached below.
9. And lastly my wife (Nicole) does a great thing with Act II of This American Life: 99: I Enjoy Being A Girl, Sort Of - The Act is called "How To Be A Man" and she uses this do discuss the actions of Lady McBeth and has the kids to a role play. You can buy all the TAL episodes at and a lot of them are on iTunes. I'll ask Nicole to jump on this group and further explain!

Hope this gives you some more ideas! Shakespeare can be fun if you have enough companion pop texts!!!

Thanks for joining this group and welcome to the MC POP NING!!!!

oh, just saw this after I posted... I guess I should read the posts in order... :)
I've always loved Macbeth since a student teacher taught it to my high school class in 1967. It was the first piece of literature that ever really engaged me and I still love it. I think that attitude comes across when we teach something. I always "get into character" when I do the witches [we had to memorize their speeches]. So, first I have fun with it and that's contagious.

Because of the difficulty of the Shakespearean language for modern students and especially the EAL students that I have now, I always give them the No Fear Shakespeare text for any of the bard's works. I teach from the original version, but they have the modern translation to use as a reference. I find this gets over the language barrier but allows me to stay true to the text. I prefer this to the footnotes since it keeps the flow of the thoughts and is more "normal" for them.

I use a lot of the resources from the British English teachers' site teachit"> There are over 100 pages on Macbeth. [When you get to the home page just go to the search box and type in Macbeth. You can access all the pdf files without joining. If you want the interactive ones, then it costs.] I particularly like the activities that have the students focus on how they would direct the play. I try to focus on the work as drama and having to make directoral decisions etc. I do show segments from film versions and then we analyze the differences between working with film and stage. I always end up by having the students work in flexible groups to act out a passage of their own choice. Not all students have to be the actors [some direct, some do sets or costumes] but they must have what the group decides is an equal level of involvement. This has become one of my favorite units to teach and former students often comment on their presentations (including the hairy fellow who played Ophelia in his mother's kilt).
Check out the movie "Scotland, PA" great for teaching Macbeth. Also, if you want to talk about the power struggle between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, check out the This American Life episode "I Enjoy Being a Girl, Sort Of." (episode 99: Jan.27, 2006) I used this to spark discussion about gender roles and power...then connecting it to Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. Ultimately, the female students taught the male students how to sit, stand, walk, eat, talk, etc... like a girl and vice versa... it was very funny and brought to light how each gender assumes (or doesn't assume) power and how it is communicated (or not) through body language and actions.... again linking back to Lady Macbeth.... it sparked some great teachable moments... check it out at:
Just posted info on the Global A Go-Go with The Bard - saw this interesting looking adaptation.

Series: The Bard Goes Global: Shakespeare on the International Screen
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj, Country: India, Release: 2003, Runtime: 132

Composer-cum-filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool is an engaging update of Macbeth set in contemporary Mumbai. Maqbool (the excellent Irrfan Khan, Slumdog Millionaire) is a leading henchman for crime boss Abbaji (an award-winning performance by Pankaj Kapoor), until two corrupt cops predict he will soon take over Abbaji’s criminal empire with the help of his boss’s mistress, Nimmi. Bhardwaj, who co-wrote the screenplay with Abbas Tyrewala, works outside of Bollywood convention, avoiding numerous subplots to focus on Maqbool’s relentless rise to power and his inevitable collapse.
There are a couple of Macbeth films released not so long ago. What kind of production are you looking for? Is your class academically strong? I am teaching Macbeth at the moment and might have some resources you could use. If you can get your hands on a copy of Shakespeare Retold Macbeth, I think your students would like it!
It is set in a kitchen among chefs and it is one of the most powerful film adaptations I have ever seen.
I have included a link to imdb and
I hope this helps. It is unconventional but it is well worth watching. I showed it to my year 10 students last year and they loved it. A lot of them had a great deal of difficulty reading the poem but could really appreciate Macbeth's descent into madness, blinded by him ambition.
Macbeth is my absolute favorite Unit to teach. I use two great films to enhance the script. This is where you can buy the film . A news forum stlye film where actors are interviewed as their characters and commercials for a variety of items such as Out Damn Spot Cleaner along with a great song. I complete the unit showing Folger's Theater production of Macbeth Best lesson plan, ever! comparing the Porter's scene between these two films. Really captures the students imagination and prompts great discussions about film and media.
I use the Jason Connery (actually Scottish!) Macbeth as well as Trevor Nunn and Roman Polanski to do side by side film comparisons. The kids' favorite is the dagger scene comparisons because Nunn doesn't use a dagger (actually a "dagger of the mind"), Polanski uses a trippy 70's special effect where the dagger is there for the audience to see, but Macbeth puts his hands through it every time he reaches for it, and the Connery version has Macbeth praying in a chapel before killing Duncan (a la Hamlet?), but when the lightning lights up the room, the cross he is kneeling before becomes a shadow that looks like a dagger.

Shakespeare Set Free (Folger's) has some great lessons as does the Cambridge Shakespeare Macbeth. Both focus on acting and staging choices to help kids understand the play. Having them up and experiencing the play (no matter how poorly they read it) makes the play come alive.
PBS had a moderized version during the first week of October 2010 with Patrick Stewart as Macbeth. The setting is in a militaristic society. The entire film can be viewed on As the play (film) was on my TV, I followed with a written version. In my opinion, the film held true to the original for the most part. There is a teacher's guide available.

I know this post is from over two years ago, but I want all teachers of Macbeth (I LOVE Macbeth!), last fall's PBS Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart is very well done. My students loved it. I mix parts of it with the BBC version (Judi Dench) and the Polanski version (the Macbeth/Macduff show down in Polanski's makes our entire class laugh out loud).



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