Articulate Performance Choices for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In Part 1 of the assessment, students will read a description of the character of Hamlet from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Then they will predict what performance choices someone playing this character might make.

In Part 2, they will watch four performances of a portion of the “To be or not to be” soliloquy while filling in the performance choices that each of the actors makes while performing the soliloquy.

In Part 3, after all four performances have been viewed and analyzed, students will select two of the most varying Hamlets in their opinion and elaborate in writing what was unique about the character choices and to what effect were they used.

This item has been voluntarily field-tested by Michigan teachers with a non-representative sample of students.

This is an analytic rubric. The column on the left shows the dimension that is being measured in the student’s performance. The levels across the top row indicate the performance level in the dimensions. Occasionally all dimensions and performance levels are exemplified by multiple students in a single recording.


  • Dimension
  • Language Specificity

    The degree to which a student can re-create a scene for his or her reader’s minds

  • Logic

    The connection between thought and action as described by the student

  • Processing New Information

    Re-evaluating expectations with the new information of a new performance

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • There are few to no descriptive words used to refer to Hamlet’s performance.

    N/A at this time.
  • Language is generalized and may depend upon adverbs such as “very,” “quite,” “extremely,” or “kind of” to make the point.

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  • Though both physical and verbal attributes are referred to, one is depended on much more than the other.

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  • Both physical and verbal attributes are referred to equally. Words are used from the word list provided and are generated by the student as well.

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  • There is little to no connection made between the actor’s actions and his overall intent to portray a unique character.

    N/A at this time.
  • One loose connection is made referring to the actor’s intention or interpretation of the character.

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  • Two loose connections are made concerning the actor’s choices and his intended portrayal of Hamlet.

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  • There is a strong and definite connection made between carefully selected character attributes and the thoughts that the actor may have intended to portray about Hamlet’s character.

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  • The student does not refer to his or her specific expectations but instead jumps right into qualitative generalizations about the performance.

    N/A at this time.
  • The student may write about his or her expectations and generally about how the actor did or did not meet those expectations. There is no specific description about how the actor did or did not meet these expectations.

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  • The student acknowledges his or her previous ideas and new information, although he or she never attempts to reevaluate his or her previous opinion, instead only showing how the performance reinforces his or her previous summary. The student may spend time reflecting upon the value of a performance in terms of “good” or “bad”

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  • The student reflects upon his or her previous ideas, and then reevaluates these ideas within the context of the new information. Expectations and reality may be referred to fluidly throughout the piece as opposed to being given its own section.

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