Teaching A View from the Bridge
Soak it all in.
A View from the Bridge might be old (by students' standards), but it's still looking pretty good from our vantage point.
To help keep this View in focus, we have a teaching guide that's a lot more fashionable than glasses with Coke-bottle lenses.
In this guide you will find
- essay questions on students' favorite topics, like betrayal, tragedy, and sexuality.
- links to modern adaptations, like the one starring none other than Scarlett Johansson (that'll get anyone's attention).
- activities for students to take a closer look at the characters and symbolism in the play.
We'll help you set the stage so when the curtain rises (i.e., the bell rings), you'll be ready to perform.
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Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:
- 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students.
- Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
- Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
- Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
- A note from Shmoop’s teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.
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Instructions for You
Objective: What better way to explore the characters and conflicts of A View from the Bridge than by having the cast appear on a daytime talk show? What advice might Dr. Phil have for Eddie? Who would Sally Jessy Raphael skewer first? Who would accept Tyra Banks' offer of a head-to-toe makeover?
You and your students will find out when they have a little fun with the cast of View (not The View, mind you; a view—the one from the bridge) by writing a scene in which the characters air their grievances on a modern talk show.
Length of Lesson: This assignment can span a week, including one class period to introduce the assignment and another class period for students to share their talk show skits.
Step 1: Show a clip of a talk show as a teaser. Here's an old Ricki Lake segment about a woman who detests her brother's girlfriend and opposes their pending marriage. (A fight breaks out between the two women around 3:30, but they quash it quickly and continue the segment.)
You can go more modern if you want, but we don't think there's much in the land of daytime TV talk shows that surpasses the old Ricki Lake format in terms of entertainment value.
Step 2: When your students have recovered from that mid-90s blast, introduce the assignment. Students will write a skit in which two of the characters from the play face-off on a modern talk show.
Step 3: Divide the class into groups of three. Assign each group two of the play’s characters. As much as possible, make sure that each group has a different combination, i.e., Eddie/Beatrice, Marco/Rodolpho, Eddie/Catherine. In this way, the play’s complex conflict dynamics can be fully explored by the class.
Step 4: Together, each group should decide on the main conflict between their two characters. Have them write down this conflict and provide quotes from the play to support their conclusion. This conflict will become the topic of their talk show.
Step 5: Give each group a week to write and rehearse their skit. Two of the students will act as the characters from the play and the third student is the talk show host. The host can be based on a real talk show host or be totally made up.
Emphasize to students that their characterizations and arguments should reflect the points of view of the characters in the play. They should include at least two direct quotes from the play which sum up their character’s point of view.
*To make sure everyone gets to present their skits, you may need to put a time limit on them.
Step 6: Let students have a day to perform their skits and turn in scripts. Ensure that students stick to their time limits so everyone gets a chance to present their skits.
(California English Language Arts Standards Met: 9th & 10th grade Reading 3.3, 3.4, 3.11; Writing 2.2. 11th and 12th grade Writing: 2.2.)
Instructions for Your Students
You may not get the answers to these questions in this activity, but you will get a chance to put two cast members from A View from the Bridge on a daytime talk show and see what happens as they hash out their problems on national TV. Will sparks fly? Will there be tears? Will someone get a sassy new haircut or a wardrobe makeover?
We can't wait to find out.
Step 1: First, you'll watch a short clip from a TV talk show in class to get a feel for the medium. You may want to model your skit after a show you know. Then again ... you may not.
Step 2: You'll be working in groups of three to create your TV talk show skit featuring two cast members from A View. (Not The View—A View.) Two of you will be assigned characters from the play and the third member of the group will be the talk show host.
As a group, discuss the main conflict that exists between your characters. Go through the play and find quotes which support your conclusion. This conflict will be the topic of your talk show.
Need a jump start on the process? Check out Shmoop's A View from the Bridge character analyses.
Step 2: Once you have a solid topic and a good idea of how your characters might act (and react) on TV, write a skit of the talk show segment and a rehearse it. Costumes and props are options, but do make sure that your depictions of the characters and their conflicts reflect the play.
For each character, work in at least one actual quote from the play into your skit. Try to choose a quote from your character that really sums up his or her point of view.
Step 3: Show time! Perform your skit for the class and turn in your group's script.
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Common Core Standards
The following standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1