Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It Begins: Anxiety Dream

I had a teaching anxiety dream just before I woke up this morning.

In it, I was teaching Macbeth on the first day of classes.  Except in the usual dream way, I was doing this in a proscenium arch theater space, where I was on stage and most of the people in the room (about 20, so not many in this massive space) were campus visitors and there were only a few students.  I had a little, teeny white board.

Why I was starting with Macbeth at the beginning of the semester, I don't know.  Nor do I know why I was starting with the poor player speech in Act 5, which is great for setting up mediated information.  But I was. 

I started by trying to get everyone to come sit up on stage so that the space would be more manageable.  That sort of worked.  Then I focused on the metatheatrics, and wanted to introduce theatrical structure.  So I drew a top down view of a proscenium arch and a thrust stage theater structure on the little white board, but it was all glary and no one could see.  And then I turned away for a moment and there was other stuff over the white board, like a movie poster.

My voice was getting ragged in the way it does the first week of classes.  Then a deaf woman wanted me to stop because (as the man with her explained) her hearing aid battery had run out, and somehow I was supposed to do something about it before going on.

And then I woke up and immediately thought about what a bad choice it was to start with Macbeth, and especially to start in Act 5 rather than with the messenger stuff in 1.1.

I guess the semester really has started for me.  But I have to say, as anxiety dreams go, this was pretty mild.


  1. Oh, crap, I really am starting with Macbeth this semester. Is it really a bad idea?

  2. Not at all! It's brilliant!

    What class are you teaching it in, and will you start with Act 5?

    (I was dreaming in the context of a genre survey Shax class, where I usually start with an early play, Titus or a comedy, and only get to the big tragedies about halfway through. So old fashioned.)

  3. I'm teaching it in Late Shakespeare, which technically starts in 1603 (but I always teach Hamlet in that class anyway, because dude, it's Hamlet and I'm sure as heck not teaching it in Early Shakespeare, which already covers too much ground as it is. And I'm also sure as heck not starting the semester with Hamlet, so any attempt at chronological organization is pretty much out the window anyhow.)

  4. Is starting with Macbeth a bad idea? I usually teach the plays in the chronological order that we think they were written in. But if you had a reason for starting with Macbeth, then no big deal. A semester on Jacobean drama would be five to start with Macbeth.

    On the other hand, Macbeth is a pretty exciting play to get into for people nervous about Shakespeare. So it could be a decent choice. I have started with Titus before with decent results. Those bloody plays bring people to the Shakespeare table in ways they didn't expect.

    Anyway - good luck with the school year, all!

  5. Fretful, that sounds excellent! Macbeth introduces a ton of stuff that's really great for the later plays!

    I would totally start a class with Macbeth were I not doing a surveyish class. It's a GREAT play.