This drama study is easy to teach. Using it, you would not necessarily need to have read the drama, since it contains a summary and step by step progression of actions, development of character dynamics, mood and theme. It also gives passages to read in class that cover the important actions and develop characters. Questions and assignments explain the theme of prejudice in an understandable and current fashion. Paradoxically, the play is both tragic and comedic, due to the confluent effects on the audience of prejudice and three romantic couples playing tricks on one another, but ending married, together and happy.
Grade 9's really enjoy this play because of the test Portia's father requires of her buffoon-like suitors win her hand. They must select from three (gold, silver and lead) caskets, the one that contains her likeness. Also incidents of prejudice resonate with students, so they "feel" the characters involved. It is somewhat of a cautionary tale, giving students ways to regard and handle prejudice in their own lives.
The drama study includes optional preliminary lessons in units 1 and 2 followed by the core drama study in Unit 3. Units 4 and 5 consider the drama in media, the social themes and offer a culminating task. Also included is a drama chart that students can fill out as they proceed through the play allowing them to easily analyze the elements of drama within the play.. Finally a test with answers is offered at the end.
Students enjoy seeing the Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons film after reading the play. I have taught the play to Grade 9's many times; they always enjoy it, and so do I.