This set of four alternative Shakespeare scripts - Hamlet, Macbeth, Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo & Juliet - include detailed synopses (both of the original play and its alternative version) and suggested lesson plans.
The scripts are ‘conversation pieces’ - discussions of what happened in the play; and as such do not have separate scenes.
Sample texts from Alternative Hamlet
Sample from Synopsis of Original Story
Hamlet’s dead father appears to him in a vision, commanding him to avenge his murder by Claudius, Hamlet’s stepfather. Hamlet sets about his task under the cover of madness. When he accidentally kills Polonius (when he is ‘set up’ by Claudius), Hamlet finds himself banished to England.
Sample from Alternative Synopsis
Theme: Love and forgiveness prevail over grief-induced hatred and madness. In this version it is left to ‘the council in heaven’, where all the characters meet up again, to reveal to Hamlet what really happened and his mistaken role in the proceedings
Sample from Suggested lesson plan:
1. Ask students for brief synopsis of original story - refer back to one provided, above.
2. Discuss what an ‘alternative’ script is.
3. Explain the script will be read and then differences in plot and character will be examined.
These scripts (plus lesson plans) are also available separately, @ 3.99 each.
Narrator: So, who’s going to tell me what really happened?
Hamlet: What do you mean? Everyone knows it was Claudius who killed my father, then married my mother, stepping into my father’s shoes as both husband and king!
Gertrude: (Sighing) Oh Hamlet! Can you still not face up to the truth? After all that has happened?
Claudius: A pity he couldn’t face up to it before!
Polonius: Just think how many lives that would have saved! Mine for one!
Laertes: And mine, plus my sister’s.
Hamlet: (Sarcastically) And those of my devoted parents? I don’t think so!
Gertrude: Oh Hamlet, what did I ever do to deserve such cruel words? What would your father have said?
Hamlet: Which one? The one you married in such joyful circumstances,… or the other, whom you married in such disgraceful haste?
Gertrude: You know full well, I meant your natural father. He was indeed a fine and noble man.
Hamlet: So why did you swap him for this rogue? This devil? This murderer?
Laertes: You really didn’t think much of your new father, did you, Hamlet?
Hamlet: Huh! And what about yours? Nothing very noble about his snooping around, finding out mischief wherever he could! Just a question of time before that proved his undoing!
Polonius: You really do have the most bitter heart! None of us ever bore you any malice. I do wonder where all that inner poison came from – that so poisoned your soul.
Hamlet: Well, there was plenty of the real stuff around! Like what killed my father, for example!
Claudius: How many more times do you have to be told – it was an accident. There was no foul play.
Narrator: I think we need to look at this pretty carefully, as it is this matter of guilt upon which the whole story hinges. It was always my understanding that Hamlet was the hapless victim, driven by revenge for the murder of his father.
Claudius: But that’s just it! There was no murder! It was all in his head!
Hamlet: Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?
Narrator: So where is your proof, Hamlet? It had better be good or you’ve got a lot to answer for!
Gertrude: Silence! I won’t have you speak to my son like that. Can’t you see he was totally deranged by grief?
Narrator: Or so he would have us believe. I’m beginning to wonder now.
Polonius: Listen. Nobody is here today to point the finger. This is not a trial. We all know what really happened and we are just here to put the record straight.
Laertes: We have all been through enough. We have all suffered and wish to suffer no more.
Narrator: Well, I must say you’re all staying remarkably calm. You, Claudius – accused of murder, and killed by your accuser. You, Gertrude – accused of betraying your first husband by marrying his brother, thus a party to his supposed foul deeds; and then poisoned by your second husband, even if it was an accident. Then you, Polonius – stabbed by Hamlet, behind that curtain
Hamlet: An accident! But served him right for snooping on me, yet again!
Narrator: So, the real story. I am so, so sorry you had to go through all this …
Macbeth: (Philosophically) Ah well, these things are sent to try us ..
Narrator: You will, of course, need a great deal more counseling to help you
Duncan: (Interrupting) Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Am I hearing this right?
Banquo: I was beginning to think it was just me who had a hearing problem!
Macduff: (To narrator) Are you seriously telling us it is Macbeth that needs counseling?
Lady Macbeth: Well, I’ve heard it all now!
Macbeth: But it was you that made me … lose it!
Lady Macbeth: Typical male response! Always blaming the women!
Narrator: But you were largely to blame – you and those awful old crones. It doesn’t bear thinking about what this poor man had to go through!
Duncan: (Incredulously) Are you serious? Aren’t you missing one or two small details here? Like, who murdered who? I was his first victim.
Banquo: And I his second.
Macduff: And what about my family? Mercilessly put to death, in my absence!
Duncan: (To narrator) So before you go misplacing any more of your sympathy, take another look at the plot, brother!
Narrator: Which is exactly what I’ve done. And I have come to the conclusion that poor Macbeth here ..
Lady Macbeth: (Interrupting) Poor Macbeth?
Narrator: Please, let me finish. You have a lot to answer for, my lady!
Macbeth: Indeed she does! I would never have carried out those foul deeds ..
Duncan: (Interrupting) Ah! An admission!
Narrator: Let the poor man finish!
Macbeth: I would never have entertained such foul desires if it hadn’t been for … the missus!
Macduff: What? That you were best friend to this poor excuse for a man, all those years?
Banquo: Indeed! If I had had so much as an inkling that he was such a pathetic, spineless character ..
Macbeth: Steady! What about all those acts of valour and bravery on the battlefield?
Banquo: A pity you didn’t hold onto one ounce of backbone – in your own castle!
Duncan: I’ve never come across a worse case of ….henpecking!
Macduff: That Lady Macbeth sure wore the trousers in his household!
Narrator: Which is just the point I’m making!
Lady Macbeth: So you would place all the blame on my shoulders?
Narrator: Absolutely! With the kind of stranglehold you had on your husband, he had absolutely no choice!
Macbeth: Ah! Justice at last! And to think I have been painted the villain – for all these years!
Alternative Midsummer Night’s Dream
Narrator: So. The real version, please!
Oberon: Allow me to start …
Narrator: (Interrupting) Hold it! Hold it! Do you really think you are best qualified to comment on real events? I mean, no offence but …. you were a mere fairy ….
Oberon: A king of fairies!
Narrator: But a fairy none the less!
Hermia: Well, that’s where you’re wrong! Oberon, haven’t we talked enough about this?
Oberon: (Reluctantly) Well, yes … But …
Helena: Don’t tell me he still sees himself as Fairy King!
Narrator: But he was! You’re losing me already!
Lysander: OK. Maybe the ladies aren’t making themselves very clear!
Demetrius: It wouldn’t be for the first time!
Hermia and Helena: (Together, in fury) What?
Oberon: Boys! Boys! Remember what we said? No laying the blame
Hermia: Especially when it was them that got in such a muddle!
Demetrius: You mean, when I couldn’t make up my mind who to love?
Helena: Please! We’ve gone over all that! Haven’t you hurt me enough?
Hermia: Well, Lysander wasn’t any better. Turning from me to you. What was that all about?