Et Tu Brutè: Performing Julius Caesar

Unit Plan

Warwick Downs
Adapted by Mark Rounds
5 weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
Speaking Applications 11/12
2.4a Combine text, images, and sound by incorporating information from a wide range of media, including films, newspapers, magazines, CD-ROMs, online information, television, videos, and electronic media-generated images.
2.5 Recite poems, selections from speeches, or dramatic soliloquies with attention to performance details to achieve clarity, force, and aesthetic effect and to demonstrate an understanding of the meaning (e.g., Hamlet's soliloquy "To Be or Not to Be").


Smiley Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

To engage students in preparatory research, see Shakespeare's England.

  1. Pre-reading: Synopsis and background notes.

  2. Read Julius Caesar.

    • If possible watch a performance of the play and/or film (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1953 - with Marlon Brando, John Gielgud, James Mason).
    • See the Romeo and Juliet unit for suggestions on ways to bring a play to life through a variety of reading strategies.

  3. Write a review of the production/s viewed. Evaluate features of design, commenting on the effect of setting the play in different time periods. Refer to descriptions of Orson Welles' production (set in Fascist Italy) at the Mercury Theatre in 1937 (The Road to Xanadu - Simon Callow).

  4. Background research: Use these sites:

    Julius Caesar

    Julius Caesar: Historical Background

    William Shakespears Julius Caesar

    Historical Background of Julius Caesar

    Warming up to Julius Caesar

    • For information to help design a slide show or poster illustrating the political structure of Rome, the political situation, the sources of the play, Julius Caesar, Roman life and culture.
    • Present your information to the class.

  5. Exposition: Using Act I as a reference, write character outlines for Julius Caesar, Cassius, Brutus and Mark Antony, giving:

    • a description of their position in Rome at the start of the play.
    • two quotes showing what they think of themselves.
    • two quotes showing what others think of them
      (explain each of the quotes in your own words).

  6. Translate the main speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony in III.ii. Identify features of persuasive language and quote examples.

    • In groups, prepare, rehearse and present choral readings of these speeches, emphasising the persuasive language features (eg. repetition, rhetorical questions).

  7. Using persuasive language techniques, write a persuasive essay promoting either Brutus or Mark Antony for Emperor. Be sure to address the concerns of those who do not agree with you.

  8. Write a piece of expressive writing, discussing the statement: "Julius Caesar should be called 'Brutus'."

  9. Using the search facility The Complete Works of William Shakespeare collect references to animals (try key words 'beast' and 'monster') in Julius Caesar. Create a chart or diagram showing the quotes and the ideas they connote.

  10. Graph/chart/map the various stages in the plot against Caesar and the subsequent political fortunes of Cassius, Brutus and Mark Antony. Record the act, scene and line numbers of quotations; record events (past and present) which indicate attitudes or changes of attitude or fortune.

  11. Role play the trial of Brutus and Cassius for the murder of Caesar - students to play roles of judge, defence/prosecution, fellow conspirators, Antony, Calphurnia, Portia etc.


Use the Persuasive Writing Rubric based on the California Content Standards to assess the Persuasive Essay (activity 7 above).

Select and analyze the meaning of an important 20+ line speech (students may work on 40+ lines of dialogue in pairs) from Julius Caesar. Annotate the speech/dialogue, showing:

Sketch a series of stage plans showing movement in relation to text. Prepare a performance of this speech/dialogue for presentation to the class.





Julius Caesar