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Performance Activity for Measure for Measure 3.2
Edward Isser

Once students learn that performance choices help define and communicate a character, they need to consider how those choices affect (and effect) later action and character development throughout the play. At the end of Measurefor Measure, the Duke has the opportunity to pardon several people--Angelo and Lucio, most significantly, but also the Provost and to propose to Isabella. How he has related to these characters earlier will have a significant effect on the ending of the play. This exercise is designed to provide students with an opportunity to experiment with several readings/scenarios from early in the play and then to discover how the earlier readings will affect later stagings (as well as later audience perception). In each case, an early scene is given with several possibilities. Then, the appropriate sections from Act 5 are noted. Have the students develop each scenario; then have the class discuss the various presentations. Next, have the group present the section from Act 5 and discuss how the earlier readings affect that final moment.

First Reading: Lucio is lying, and the Duke knows it. In this case, Lucio is a slanderer and a troublemaker, and the Duke is truly an honest man who has ever desired to "know himself." What does this say about Lucio and how an actor would play him? About the Duke?

Second Reading: Lucio is accurate about the character of the Duke. If Lucio is correct about the Duke, then he truly becomes the prince of "dark corners." How does this work backwards and forwards in the play? The Duke chastising Juliet; offering grace to Claudio; and then testing Isabella at the end? How does this scene form a cruxes? And what about poor Lucio, who now emerges as the "truth teller?"
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