KS3/4 Drama – Engaging with a Difficult Text – Dr Faustus

How one teacher engages pupils with a difficult text An inspiring example of one teacher’s approach to engaging students with the meaning and language of a ‘difficult’ text.

At Haggerston School for Girls, East London, Head of Drama Rachel Ray Choudhuri’s mixed-ability Year 10, GCSE group tackle their first piece of coursework text – the final speech of Marlowe’s ‘Tragical History of Dr.Faustus’, written in the late 16th.century.

Their lesson begins with a warm-up linked to paranoia and tension. Then a sequence of short exercises on desire, ambition and selling your soul helps encourage them to make connections with popular film and television storylines.

The class then look at the text itself and, despite initial reservations, develop imaginative work that includes Marlowe’s original language. Although the text is a soliloquy, they successfully devise ways of involving 4-5 performers in each piece. They evaluate each others’ work and finally document the lesson for themselves and reflect on the value of this process.

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