My students were neutral to positive when I announced that we were going to read Major Barbara
as our next play. After all, we had done Pygmalion
earlier and that wasn’t half bad. At least they could understand most of the dialogue, since thankfully, it wasn’t Shakespeare.
Each year my colleague and I try to read the plays included in the Guthrie Theater season with students and then escort a group to the performances. This year it was to be Major Barbara
and The Merchant of Venice
. My colleague chose the latter and taught lessons on usury and the status of Jews in Elizabethan England. For the Major
, I too started out with context, discussing Fabian socialism and the arms race and secret military alliances in the run-up to World War I.