What Shakespeare Did You Read In High School?

I always assume that Romeo & Juliet is still the most popular, but I have nothing to back that up except my own experience which is now pretty old :). I also have no true appreciation of the breadth of plays that some teachers choose.
So, enlighten me. Whether you teach high school, you’re in high school, or like me high school is a distant memory, what plays did you read? The more you remember, the better. I’m trying to develop a spectrum from most commonly read all the way down to never read, so it’s equally important that we learn which plays *arent* being taught. If you’re a teacher, a little extra info on frequency (“I’ve taught Hamlet every year for 20 years but this is the first year we’re doing All’s Well That Ends Well”) would help as well.
I remember reading: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Othello and Taming of the Shrew. I think I can also include Richard II, the Henry plays, and Troilus and Cressida – but truthfully I can’t remember whether I read those in high school or early in college. Maybe Midsummer?
Who else? If you’re a teacher and know teachers in other schools, please take a moment to forward along this post. The more information, the better!

39 thoughts on “What Shakespeare Did You Read In High School?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Only two: Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth!

  2. I was taught R&J in grade 9 and promised Macbeth and Hamlet in 11th and 12th (but we never got around to it…).
    I'd guesstimate about 80% of the HS teachers visiting the Folger tell me they're assigning R&J, about 70% include Midsummer, and about 25% say Hamlet OR Macbeth.
    Some of our longer-involved local teachers are now assigning Tempest, Twelfth Night and Titus (1st one ever that we know of!), and occasionally Taming of the Shrew.

  3. I had Caesar in 9th, Hamlet in 10th, and Macbeth in 12th. (I'd also done As You Like It and Midsummer earlier, in 7th and 8th grade).

    Many of the schools we work with in Virginia do R&J in 9th, Caesar in 10th, and Macbeth in 12th, as those are what's in the most commonly-used textbooks for those years.

  4. 9th: R&J.
    10th: Caesar.
    11th: Scottish play.
    12th Hamlet. Got into a big fight with my teacher about it, too. Think I pissed her off when I said there was no evidence Hamlet was crazy, and then when she started on that Christ imagery … well, our relationship never recovered.

  5. 9th grade was Romeo and Juliet.
    10th Was The Merchant of Venice
    11th Was Othello
    12th was both Macbeth and Hamlet

    Also in 12th we had the option to read a play and write a report on it. I chose Henry V.

  6. Elizabeth R says:

    9th: Romeo & Juliet
    10th: Julius Caesar
    12th: Hamlet and MacBeth

  7. Julius Caesar in 9th, Hamlet in 10th, Othello and As You Like It in 12th (AYLI only because we did it as a school production.) We also did productions of Measure for Measure and Henry V that I was involved in, so those too.

  8. I only remember for sure reading Julius Caesar and Macbeth.

  9. LinusRenee says:

    Listed by the class for which they were read…
    English 9: Romeo and Juliet
    English 10: Julius Caesar
    Theatre II: parts of Midsummer, parts of Hamlet for a few workshops.
    English 12: Hamlet
    Shakespeare, as you like it: Othello, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Richard III (whom we also put on trial!)

  10. Macbeth in 9th grade, Caesar in 10th, and Hamlet in 12th. I never actually read R+J in school.

  11. Our school has taught for years upon years:
    9-Romeo and Juliet
    10-Julius Ceasar
    Indiana textbooks package those in the books.

    12 grade has been usually been Macbeth, but I've taught Othello at that level.

    Often, 8th graders read Midsummer if they are in honors lit, but last year they read Romeo and Juliet, so I have to teach them something different now they're freshmen. I'm going to do Othello…because I can.

    In my elective Shakespeare course, I teach:

    Henry 4, Part 1
    Midsummer (sometimes)
    King Lear
    Much Ado.

    This year, with the movie coming out, we'll probably read Tempest.

    We also do a large batch of sonnets.

  12. R&J in Grade 9; Macbeth in Grade 10; Hamlet and Othello in Grade 12.

    It was my senior English teacher who really piqued my interest in Shakespeare.

    As a teacher of Shakespeare, I've taught 22 of the the plays. (Cymbeline's the most recent addition to he list!)

  13. Scratch R and J. It was Caesar in Grade 9. I know I went to see Zeffirelli's R&J when I was in ninth grade, but can't recall if we did it in school.

  14. As an honors student, I was taught…

    R&J in the 8th grade
    Caesar in the 9th grade
    Macbeth and Henry IV pt. 1 in the 10th grade
    Hamlet in the 12th grade

    At the high school where I teach, we teach…

    R&J in the 9th grade
    Caesar or Othello in the 10th grade
    Macbeth in the 11th grade
    Hamlet in the 12th grade

    In my elective Shakespeare course that students can take instead of the standard 12th grade English, I teach…

    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    The Merchant of Venice
    Taming of the Shrew (sometimes)
    Richard III (sometimes)
    King Lear (sometimes)
    The Tempest (if there's time, and I'll make sure we do this year)
    And then some sonnets

    The course's previous teacher, who retired about 5 years ago, taught Henry IV pt. 1 and 12th Night, not MND, Richard III, or Tempest.

  15. When I was in high school, I read R&J in 9th grade, Macbeth in 11th grade Brit. lit, and Othello in AP lit. (These were in addition to reading Greek tragedies in 9th and in AP lit.) At the high school I have taught at for 16 years, R&J is taught in 9th grade, some teachers teach Julius Caesar in 10th and others teach A Comedy of Errors (myself included), and some teachers teach Hamlet in 12th (Brit. lit) while others teach Macbeth (myself included). In my state American lit is taught one of the four years of high school, so Shakespeare isn't read then. One of my teacher friends did teach Othello for a couple of years to 12th Brit. lit students, but that's a rare occurrence.

  16. I was taught Romeo and Juliet in 9th, and Midsummer Night's Dream in 10th. The end.

    After that I taught myself Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and others via Sparknotes.

  17. We did Romeo & Juliet in 9th grade and Othello in 10th.
    In 12th grade we were assigned to pick a Shakespeare play that we hadn't read which was made difficult as I'd devoured the Complete Works the summer after 6th grade.

  18. CocoaFisch says:

    I went to High School in California, and I believe Romeo & Juliet is still a graduation requirement according to the state. At least it was 10 years ago.
    Regardless, I read it in 9th grade. 10th graders also had to read a Shakespeare play at my High School. My class "read" Julius Caesar, but really our terrible teacher just put on the movie and we were instructed to follow along in our books. I know the other English teachers all taught Midsummer and my older sister read Two Gents in her 10th grade class.
    The Senior elective British Literature class read Macbeth, but most Seniors took Contemporary Lit or no English class at all.
    I really got the short end of the stick with Shakespeare in my High School…

  19. Giulia Listo says:

    Here in Brazil schools hardly teach Shakespeare. They foccus on national literature, so all Shakespeare I read was by myself.
    I started with R+J when I was 12yo, around 7th grade. Then I read Hamlet, Midsummer's, Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, The taming of shrew and a few more before I finish high school.
    The only Shakespeare play I read for school was Othello, for english class. 🙂

  20. CocoaFisch says:

    And!! I totally forgot about the plays we read for my Drama class in High School. (That teacher was much better!!)In 10th grade we did a monologue and had to read the play, for me Much Ado About Nothing. 11th grade we all did scenes from Macbeth and all had to read the whole play. 12th grade we did scenes of our choosing and read the play, for me Taming of the Shrew. When we did any monologues or scene work in this class we had to turn in an analysis of the play as well, but everyone was reading different plays and we didn't cover the material in class.

  21. In my private high school, we didn't just read Shakespeare, we produced it. The entire class had to be involved; we worked on it for much of the fall and winter, and performed 6 to 12 performances in the spring. My junior year we performed R&J; my senior year, Midsummer Night's Dream. Performing the plays (often with a double cast, so some of us got to play two parts on alternate nights) allowed us to really dig into the language, the story, the characterization, the jokes, the passions… While I'd seen some Shakespeare plays before my junior year, those experiences really deepened and solidified my love of Shakespeare. I went on to study almost all the plays in college.

    As a homeschooling Mom, I've had my high school student read and/or study several plays a year. I can't replicate the intensity of performing the plays, but we've tried to see most of the ones we've studied in performance. (Hurrah for the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA!) She has read As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet, and she's working on The Tempest. Oh, and we've seen Henry V as well.

  22. Oops, forgot to mention that she also read MacBeth.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Read in HS:
    9th: R&J
    10th: JC
    12: Big Mac

    I've taught in English 10: JC
    I've taught in English 12: Big Mac

    Taught in Shakespeare 101 (yes, I'm lucky enough to teach a high school Shakespeare class periodically):

    JC, Othello, Shrew, AYLI, Comedy of Errors, Merry Wives, Henry V, R3, Tempest, Lear, LLL, 2 Gents, Twelfth Night, Midsummer, Merchant, Much Ado, Complete Works abridged, and all of the sonnets.

    Currently, at our school it's R&J in 9th and Macbeth in 12th. The AP 12th will also do Othello or Hamlet, which, ironically, I've never taught.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Addition to above. And Titus. I always start with Titus for the Shakespeare class to pique their interest. It NEVER fails.

  25. I think it will be interesting to see what people who are still interested in Shakespeare first experienced. Mine were:
    R&J in 9th
    JC in 10th
    nothing in 11th
    Macbeth in 12th
    Othello in Freshman Comp
    Roles in college in Midsummer, Taming, R&J, Tempest, AYLI.

  26. Othello and Hamlet
    In my college Shakespeare classes, I always ask what people have read. Recently, there are more comedies in the curriculum. But even just 5 years ago–mostly tragedies.

  27. Matt Bogen says:

    Good question!

    9th: R&J
    10th: Macbeth, As You Like It
    11th: Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra
    12th: King Lear, Hamlet

    I think there were others, but I've read and reread so many of them over the years that I'm not sure when I read what. 🙂

  28. Romeo & Juliet (freshman year)

    Macbeth (sophomore)

    King Lear
    Twelfth Night (those three all in AP English, senior year)

  29. I teach HS English & theatre, so I'll say it this way:

    As many others have said, all of our students read R&J in the 9th grade. Regular students get JC in 10th (sometimes with a Midsummer kicker) & Macbeth in 12th. Honors kids get Macbeth in 11th, and Hamlet & Othello in 12th.

    As a theatre teacher, we do a Shakespeare unit every semester, and we try to produce at least one Shakespeare show per year (sometimes in class, sometimes after school). Shows I've taught and/or produced through the theatre program: Macbeth, The Tempest, Midsummer, Two Gents, Much Ado, R&J, Henry V, Richard III, Hamlet.

  30. Anonymous says:

    9th: Romeo and Juliet
    10th: Julius Caesar

  31. Anonymous says:

    7th grade- Romeo and Juliet & A Midsummer's Night Dream
    8th grade- Macbeth
    9th grade- Julius Caesar
    10th grade- Hamlet
    11th grade- Macbeth
    12th grade- As You Like It

  32. Anonymous says:

    I was supposed to read Romeo and Juliet freshman year, but the class never got around to it. Sophomore year, my British Literature class went through Macbeth, and my senior English class read The Taming of the Shrew. Between those two, I read Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar (which I later performed senior year, my first acting experience), A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Hamlet. As high school winded down and I didn't have classes, I managed to read The Tempest, King Lear, and the Merchant of Venice before, or around the time I graduated.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Grade 9 – Romeo & Juliet
    Grade 10 – Macbeth
    Grade 11 – The Tempest
    Grade 12 – Hamlet

  34. Anonymous says:

    Lets see…..
    Gr9: Romeo and Juliet
    Gr10: Romeo and Juliet (changed to a new highschool)
    Gr11: Macbeth
    Gr12: Hamlet

  35. Jessica Wang says:

    8th Grade: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    9th Grade: Romeo & Juliet
    10th Grade: Julius Caesar
    11th Grade (Honors): Hamlet
    12th Grade (AP Lit): Othello & Macbeth

    I’m currently in AP Lit right now and we’ve just began Othello!

  36. I’m currently a high school senior in a single semester Shakespeare course and we have covered Much Ado about Nothing, Hamlet, and Othello. I really loved all three, I have a great teacher because I always had though Shakespeare was dull until I took this class. I also read Romeo and Juliet in Freshman year. Earlier this year I did an independent study during which I wrote a research paper on Pygmalion (Shaw) and I compared it to Taming of the Shrew, but never formally was taught that play.

  37. We had one play every quarter, both in NJ (9th grade) and in NY (grades 10 and 11); the first book we read was The Merchant Of Venice, strangely enough. Others I remember were Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello. Graduated from high school a year early, don’t know about grade 12.

  38. We do Hamlet in 8th grade…

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