“The Young Company Guide to Macbeth” is a whimsical illustrated guide targeted at young theatergoers. This guide was produced by Classic Stage Company (CSC) as part of the Shakespeare for a New Generation tour. The guide includes a timeline of Shakespeare’s life and times, a cartoon detailing the different parts of the Globe theater, a graphic novel plot synopsis of the play, a photographic guide to the characters, a reading on the role of monarchy in Shakespeare’s time, and an interview with the director of a youth production of the play. The guide also includes a “What Character in Macbeth are You” personality quiz and a discussion of the question of what motivated Macbeth to kill the king. There is also a list of themes and questions to consider regarding “gender roles and dynamics,” “fate vs. free will,” and “good and evil.” I chose this text because it is fun, approachable, interactive, and provides concise, accurate background and synopsis of the play.
The Flesch–Kincaid readability score for the “Young Company Guide to Macbeth” places it at the 8th grade level. Because this text is a little under the 9th grade level, it can serve as an introduction to the play and help support understanding of the characters, themes, plot, and historical background. Students whose reading level is lower but who recognize visual information can gain understanding from the pictures, charts, and graphs. These graphic supports can also help scaffold the reading for the class as a whole.
Use in Class
The guide can provide an overall introduction to the play “Macbeth.” The guide also has many short activities, such as a personality quiz, which could help generate student interest if students were to complete them independently and discuss them in groups. Finally, there are several sections students could read aloud giving background information on Shakespeare and Macbeth and discussing important themes and questions. Because these pieces are generally short, a teacher could pick and choose which pieces to go over.
Submitted by Julia katz