Hello readers and welcome back to yet another unit review blog post, one of my last as I graduate in a few months😊. In the most recent Humanities unit we as the class answered the inquiry question, “How might we craft a compelling vision of “Macbeth” set in the 1950’s?”. To do this we had 3 main chunks of learning to do; studying the Shakespeare play Macbeth, learning the history of the 1950s and the Cold War, and using our thinking and tech skills to combine these two subjects into one coherent film. That’s right our final product for this project was to create a 15 minute long short film telling the story of Macbeth in the 1950s and during the Cold War. This was a very ambitious goal but I can happily say that our class was the first PLP class to ever successfully complete this project. So without further adieu here is the 2022 PLP 11/12’s rendition of Macbeth in the 50s.
To get to the point of producing such an amazing film there was a few steps along the way. The class started by reading the actual play Macbeth and watching movie versions of it in class. We would have discussions talking about what was going on in the play so everyone could follow along and understand the text. I really enjoyed
these classes as it was so fun to learn the story, people watch media and read books for fun so watching a movie and reading a play with your friends in class felt the same. Along with reading the play we had a pretty major assignment to go along with it. After we finished act III we had to do an in-class “test” where we had to answer how a quote from either act II or act III affected the plot, characters, and theme of the play in a formal piece of writing. While the initial assignment was to be done in class this was our opportunity to take feedback and improve our work. I struggled to finish in class due to distractions but I completed it for homework and achieved my learning goal within my first submission. I’d say this was my strongest work of the entire project as I had a very strong understanding of the text and argued my points well in my writing. This year my critique of texts has become significantly stronger which comes directly from my creative and critical thinking competencies. I plan to keep working on this as it is very relevant in the university course I am going into with communication.
Once we had a pretty good understanding of Macbeth it was time to dive into the history. We had two or three classes where Ms Willemse gave us lectures about the Cold War, life in the 50s, and any more information relevant to that time period. Last year my grade had already gone over some important events in the Cold War such as the Vietnam War and the Berlin Wall but this was useful to get the full picture of the history. All of these lectures involved note taking which then, in typical PLP fashion turned into making literature and permanent notes. My best note was on Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech which I read an article about and after handing this literature note in I got a rainbow in showbie. While I did make a few good notes and expand my knowledge on the Cold War I do wish we would have done more history. Once working on the film started it felt very separated from the history and as if we were just focusing on Macbeth. If I were to do this project again I would want more emphasis and more assignments or tests on the actual history so I learn more.
To get the film done every person in the class was given a specific role that they had to take care of. My job was the official screenwriter. While this was a very key role especially in early stages I did not actually have to write an entire 15 minute long script from scratch. Every student came up with their own 3 act structure of what our film should be and then we spent a class combining all our ideas into one final story of Macbeth in the fifties. It was cool to see how well our class could work together to create something using all the best ideas from every individual’s work. Once the story was decided it was my job to finalize what the story looked like with scenes and characters so I made a list and then shared that with the class the next day. We split into groups and every group wrote the script for one scene; after this is when my work load really picked up. I had to combine all the individual scripts and make the screenplay coherent as well as formatted correctly. I wish I had spent more time on the screenplay initially by myself, as I did combine everything and make slight edits but not enough for the final screenplay to be ready when the class wanted it. This meant that with Ben and Matthew’s help I had to edit and complete the script in a time crunch during one class. If I would’ve spent more time editing the script initially on my own we would’ve had more time to make small fixes to make it better in class, rather than fixing the whole thing and making it rushed. That being said the script was still strong and I am proud of the work my department and I put together.
The final few classes of this project before spring break were heavily focused on filming and doing the actual production. There needed to be lots of communication between all the students on who was filming, what they were filming, and where they were filming all the time. I was not a very big part of this so while lots of people reflected on wanting better communication, I felt like the system we had with call sheets worked for me and I was able to communicate all of my work with the screenplay easily. During filming many people were busy and had lots of responsibilities in their own roles, but there were many people (either not acting or had a heavier work load before filming) that were left with not a lot to do. One of those people was me. I took on the role of Duncan’s secretary in the film so I had a few scenes to film but besides that the script was done and I felt like many times there was more I could be doing. This would be my biggest critique of the project, especially considering I didn’t feel we put enough learning into the history. I should’ve taken it upon myself in this spare time to make literature notes and do research about the Cold War and the 50s but I do wish it would’ve been a class wide idea to do more history and maybe even assignments in this free time.
Overall this project was really enjoyable for me and exactly what I needed to get me excited about school again. The last few projects before this were not my best work and didn’t have my full attention so taking on an important job such as screenwriter as well as acting was really good for me. My creative and critical thinking skills were used the most in my learning for this unit but my communication skills improved as well. I want to end my grade 12 year on a high so a unit involving Shakespeare and English which I am very fond of and mixing it with Cold War history was great for me. I even went to London in spring break following this project and got the opportunity to go to the real Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Plus as a bonus they happened to be performing Macbeth at the time so I was able to watch a Macbeth performance in the Globe. It was such a cool experience, I loved it and I especially loved knowing exactly what was happening in the story whereas the people around me seemed to be confused. Hopefully I can continue this positive momentum in my work moving forward in the year into my final stretch of grade 12.