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Signing Shakespeare resources and activities for teaching Act 3 of Macbeth
Act 3 Scene 1-2: Banquo and Macbeth
In these activities, students explore how the two old friends Banquo and Macbeth now feel about each other. Two films of soliloquies from both Banquo and Macbeth in BSL help students to explore the language and consider the changing relationship between the two characters. There is also an opportunity to further explore metaphor and optional games to support students’ visceral understanding of how Macbeth and Banquo might feel. The slide references in the exercises refer to direct image and film resources for BSL/SSE/VS. For ASL please click on the second gallery to download the ASL resources.
EXERCISE 1: Banquo’s hopes and fears
- Ask students if they remember what the witches said to Macbeth and Banquo?
- Play Macbeth Prophesy Videos 1-3 (BSL/SSE/ASL).
- Ask: Have the prophecies the witches made to Macbeth come true? (Yes, he became Thane of Cawdor and then king)
- Play Banquo Prophesy Videos 1-3 (BSL/SSE/ASL).
- Ask: Have the prophecies the witches made to Banquo come true? (Not yet)
- Explain that Banquo has a son called Fleance.
- Play Fleance Dramatis Personae Video. This introduces Fleance with his sign name and an illustration of him. Ask all students to try out Fleance’s sign name and repeat the film as needed.
- Tell students that Banquo has been thinking about the witches since Macbeth was crowned and discuss what Banquo might hope will happen next and what he fears might happen next.
- If you completed Exercises 4 and/or 5 in Act 1 Scenes 3-4, you might like to revisit that work to remind students of their ideas about what Banquo was thinking and feeling after meeting the witches.
- Tell students they are going to meet Banquo and see what he is thinking now.
- Play Banquo video(s) (BSL/ SSE/ASL).
- Display the text from the film and the questions (slide). Ask students to discuss their answers, in pairs, and then share their answers with the class.
What does Banquo fear? (That Macbeth killed Duncan in order to become king - he ‘played most foully for it’)
What does Banquo hope? (That his children will be kings)
- Discuss with students what Banquo might now be thinking about his old friend Macbeth. Why might he fear Macbeth? Why might he not fear him?
- Give students copies of Banquo’s hopes and fears from the pdf resources list and ask them in pairs to add what they think Banquo hopes and what he fears in the two columns.
- Share ideas as a whole group and encourage students to add any new ideas to their own lists.
EXERCISE 2: Banquo’s footsteps (optional game)
- If you did not follow Exercise 3 in Act 2 Scenes 1-2 ‘Macbeth’s footsteps’, you might want to look at this exercise for instructions on the first version of the game.
- Invite one student to stand at one end of the space facing the wall as ‘Macbeth’. Give them a crown to wear.
- Invite all the other students to stand in the middle of the space as ‘Banquo’.
- Ask the ‘Banquos’ what they want to do. Do they want to creep up on Macbeth and take the crown for their own children or do they want to keep away from Macbeth in case he hurts them?
- If a Banquo moves forward and reaches Macbeth without Macbeth seeing them move, they can take the crown for their children. If a Banquo moves back and reaches the wall, they are safe and can play again. If Macbeth turns and sees a Banquo move, that Banquo is out and must sit down.
- You might like to try another version of the game where the Banquos show how they really feel about Macbeth when his back is turned but must smile when he turns to face them.
- Play a few times to give students a sense of the dilemmas facing Banquo.
EXERCISE 3: Macbeth’s hopes and fears
- Remind students that Macbeth’s plan has succeeded. He is King of Scotland as the witches said he would be and no-one can prove he had anything to do with the murder of Duncan.
- Give students copies of Macbeth’s hopes and fears from the pdf resources list and ask them to discuss in pairs what they think Macbeth hopes and what he fears.
- Ask them to share their ideas with the whole group.
- Explain that you will now see what Macbeth is thinking about his old friend Banquo.
- Play Macbeth’s fears video from the gallery. BSL with subtitles or ASL.
- Display the edited text from the film (slide) and discuss with students any further thoughts about what Macbeth hopes and what he fears.
What does he fear? (That he has committed a horrible murder and a terrible sin just to help Banquo’s children become kings. Perhaps also that Banquo knows what he has done? Perhaps that Banquo might kill him so his sons can be king?)
What does he hope? (Perhaps that Banquo doesn’t suspect him? That the witches are not telling the truth about Banquo’s children? That he will have a child himself?)
- Ask them to write down Macbeth’s hopes and fears in the two columns.
EXERCISE 4: Macbeth's Footsteps
- Invite one student to stand at one end of the space facing the wall as ‘Banquo’. Give them a sash to wear.
- Invite all the other students to stand in the middle of the space as ‘Macbeth’.
- Ask the ‘Macbeths’ what they want to do. Do they want to get close to Banquo to keep an eye on him or maybe get rid of him? Or do they want to keep away from Banquo in case he guesses what they have done?
- If a Macbeth reaches Banquo without Banquo seeing them move, they win; if they move back and reach the wall, they are safe. If Banquo turns and sees a Macbeth move, that Macbeth is out and must sit down.
- Try another version of the game where the Macbeths show how they really feel about Banquo when his back is turned but must smile when he turns to face them. When Banquo turns around, if he sees a Macbeth looking unfriendly/threatening he can tell them to sit down.
- Play a few times to give students a sense of how Macbeth might feel.
EXERCISE 5: How do they really feel? (optional game)
- Organise all students in a circle.
- Ask one student to be Macbeth and one to be Banquo
- Ask the Macbeth and Banquo to walk across the circle to the other person’s place, crossing in the middle.
- As the Macbeth and Banquo meet in the middle they should greet each other as they might at court.
- As they move away, they should show us how they really feel about each other.
- Repeat with different Macbeths and Banquos until everyone has had a chance to be Banquo or Macbeth.
EXERCISE 6: ‘O, full of scorpions is my mind’ (visual metaphors)
- Show the image of a scorpion from the gallery (slide) and ask students what words they associate with a scorpion. Perhaps dangerous, spiky, scary…
- Show the image of Macbeth’s mind from the gallery with the line: ‘O, full of scorpions is my mind’ (slide)
- Ask students what they think Macbeth means by this. What does his mind feel like if he is comparing it to scorpions?
- Ask if they remember the term for a comparison like this (metaphor)
- Discuss what Macbeth might do next.
Download Gallery for Act 3 Scene 1-2 (BSL)
Download Gallery for Act 3 Scene 1-2 (ASL)
Banquo's hopes and fears for Exercise 1
Macbeth’s hopes and fears for Exercise 3
Act 3 Scenes 3-4: Killing Banquo
In this series of activities, students explore how Macbeth arranges the murder of his friend Banquo and is then haunted by him. Students have the opportunity to explore the perspectives of different characters as they inhabit the scenes and to examine some of the metaphorical language Shakespeare uses.
EXERCISE 1: The Murder of Banquo
- Ask students if they remember the name of Banquo’s son? Play Fleance Dramatis Personae Video as a reminder.
- Ask students what the witches told Banquo (that his descendants would become kings).
- Explain that Macbeth decides to kill Banquo and Fleance to remove the threat of the witches’ prophecy coming true.
- Organise students into groups to include: Banquo, Fleance and two or three murderers.
- Ask each group to create three freeze frames of the story of Banquo’s murder following the descriptions given. Display the Freeze Frames slide.
Banquo and Fleance walk back to the castle talking about the weather. The murderers hide ready to jump out.
The murderers kill Banquo. Fleance runs away.
Banquo is dead. The murderers look around for Fleance.
- Watch each group’s performance of their three freeze frames.
- Next, ask students to add lines to their freeze frames. Display the Murderers slide or give out copies of the lines from the pdf resource list.
Check for understanding:
Murderer: ‘Tis he (It’s him, he’s coming) Murderer: Stand to it (Get ready) Banquo: It will be rain tonight (It’s going to rain tonight) Banquo: Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! (Run away Fleance, run, run, run) Murderer: The son is fled. (The son has run away) Murderer: Well, let’s away. (Well, let’s go)
- Encourage students to bring their freeze frames to life and to sign and/or speak the lines to create a performance of the whole scene.
- Share the performances and encourage students to comment on what worked well in each other’s performances
EXERCISE 2: Macbeth hears that Banquo is dead
- Organise students into a semi-circle.
- Invite volunteers into the playing space to take on the roles of: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Ross and Lennox. Give sashes to identify characters and a crown to Macbeth. Ask the students to create a freeze frame of a banquet. Invite the remaining students to join the freeze frame of the banquet as other guests - except for one student who will enter later as the murderer.
- Tell the narrative below, encouraging students to mime the actions as you describe them.
Macbeth welcomes all his guests to the banquet. He raises his drink in a toast and all the guests raise their drinks too. The guests begin to eat and drink and talk.
A murderer enters quietly and without anyone else noticing. Macbeth leaves the table and goes to him. The murderer tells Macbeth: ‘Banquo is dead’. Macbeth is pleased. Macbeth asks: ‘Is Fleance dead too?’ The murderer says: ‘Fleance escaped’.
- Invite all students to step out of their own roles and suggest how Macbeth might feel about this news. Ask the student playing Macbeth to show how they feel, having heard the suggestions.
EXERCISE 3: The serpent and the worm (embodying metaphors)
- Remind students that the murderer has told Macbeth that Banquo is dead but that Fleance escaped.
- Display the lines below (slide) and explain this is what Macbeth says in response to the news.
‘There the grown serpent lies. The worm that’s fled Hath nature that in time will venom breed, No teeth for the present.’
- Ask if students remember the term for comparing one thing to another by describing one thing as a something else (metaphor)
- Build on what they say to explain that Macbeth is using a metaphor to describe what has happened and invite them to work out the metaphor with you.
- Invite three students to become one long snake.
- Invite one more student to be a small worm.
- Ask the students who Macbeth is comparing to this poisonous snake (Banquo).
- Explain that in Shakespeare’s time, people thought worms were baby snakes and ask: if Banquo is the poisonous snake, who is the worm? (Fleance).
- Banquo has been killed so the serpent lies dead - encourage the three-person snake to die. But Fleance escapes - encourage the worm to wriggle away.
- Ask: If the worm is a baby snake, what will happen to it in a few years? (It will grow into a snake)
- Invite two more students to join the worm to make another snake.
- Ask: What might this fully grown poisonous snake do? (It could come back and bite Macbeth).
- Tell the students that Macbeth is not too worried at the moment, because the snake is still a worm - ask the three-person snake to become a one-person worms. The worm doesn’t have any teeth to bite Macbeth yet.
EXERCISE 4: Banquo’s Ghost
- Display or print out the Banquo’s Ghost narrative from the pdf resource list (see slides).
- Organise students to return to the roles they played in Exercise 1 and explain that you are returning to the banquet to see what happens next.
- Encourage students to follow the narrative as you sign / speak it and to mime what you describe.
- After completing the narrative, discuss with students how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel now.
EXERCISE 5: ‘Blood will have blood’
Remind students that after all the guests have left the banquet, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are alone together.
Display the lines below: (slide)
Macbeth: Blood will have blood. How say’st thou that Macduff denies his person At our great bidding? Lady Macbeth: You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
Discuss what these lines suggest about how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel.
Build on what students say to draw out that Macbeth is saying that shedding blood means more blood is shed; the dead will have their revenge. Macbeth is also concerned that Macduff did not come to the banquet even though he was asked to. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that he needs to get some sleep.
Ask students in pairs to create a freeze frame of how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel at this moment. Perhaps these lines suggest that Macbeth is feeling guilty or anxious and Lady Macbeth is calm and practical. Perhaps that Macbeth is angry and Lady Macbeth is anxious.
EXERCISE 6: The Macbeths’ hopes and fears
Revisit the chart of Lady Macbeth’s hopes and fears set up in Exercise 7 of Act 1 Scenes 5-6
Discuss how her hopes and fears have changed and encourage students to add to the columns. Perhaps Lady Macbeth fears her husband is going mad or that he will confess his crimes? Perhaps she hopes that he will pull himself together and show he is a strong leader, or that he will find some peace and sleep?
Revisit the chart of Macbeth’s hope and fears set up in Exercise 3 of Act 3 Scenes 1-2
Discuss how his hopes and fears have changed and encourage students to add to the columns. Perhaps Macbeth fears he is going to hell or will be forever haunted by Banquo? Perhaps he hopes that he can now rule in peace, or pass on the crown to his own children?
Download Gallery for Act 3 Scene 3-4 (BSL) and (ASL)
The Murder of Banquo
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This work pack is intended to support beginner EAL learners to access Act 3 of Macbeth when being studied as a class text.
- Bilingual Dictionaries
- Building Vocabulary
- Focusing on Grammar Patterns
- Graphic Organisers
It is intended to be used in conjunction with resource packs on the other four acts of the play, and other EAL Nexus resources on Macbeth.
The aim of the pack is to enable beginner EAL learners to understand the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to become familiar with the main characters and their situation and to start to consider the main themes of the play. There is a scene-by-scene summary in accessible English, accompanied by flashcards and DARTs activities. Answers to the DARTs activities are also provided so learners can correct their own work where appropriate. This is a highly visual resource with Manga-style illustrations to appeal to young people.
On the right hand side of this page are a number of documents that you can download for free. Please note that the Teaching Notes and Resources can be found in the pdf document (the first item on the list), whilst the PowerPoint document(s) include(s) presentation(s) which you can display on your interactive board in your classroom.
© The Bell Educational Trust Limited. This resource is free to use for educational purposes.
This resource was originally developed by R. Wilson for Wolverhampton Local Authority and has been adapted for The Bell Foundation’s teaching materials and resources. The resource was formally referenced as EAL Nexus.