Halloween has no shortage of traditional images. Jack O’Lanterns. Skeletons. Ghosts. Black cats. And yes, witches.
This month’s lesson plans are all about women in black with magical powers and more than a few tricks up their sleeves.
These discussion questions provide a good foundation prior to choosing which exercises to try first.
1. Do you believe that witches are real? Why or why not?
2. What’s your favorite fairy tale that involves a witch?
3. What’s your favorite television show in which a witch is the main character?
4. What’s your favorite movie about witches?
5. What’s the scariest film you’ve ever seen that had a witch in it?
6. Who would you rather have as a next door neighbor (and why): Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter), Melisandre (Game of Thrones) or Endora (Bewitched).
7. Who gets your vote as the best “good” witch (and why): Glinda (The Wizard of Oz), Samantha (Bewitched), Cassie Nightingale (The Good Witch), Sabrina Spellman (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch), or The Halliwell Sisters (Charmed).
MAD AVENUE MAKEOVER
Is it any wonder that witches get annoyed this time of year by the unflattering way in which they’re usually depicted? The members of Witches Local 639 decide to take action on this and hire an over-the-top image consultant from a Madison Avenue Advertising agency.
Your assignment: Write a three-page comedic scene in which s/he lays out the extensive wardrobe, hair, makeup, attitude and lifestyle changes that will need to be implemented for a trio of skeptical witches to better blend in with their community.
DRIVING THE WRONG KIND OF STICK
Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690’s was not a particularly pleasant place to be. Paranoia was running rampant in those days amidst rumors that witchcraft was being practiced, and it took little more than some well placed gossip to suddenly point an accusatory finger at anyone you didn’t happen to like.
Your assignment: In a contemporary reversal, the setting of the scene you’re going to write is an enclave of witches and warlocks who are perfectly happy being left to their own devices. As several of them gather for their morning coffee, however, one of them shares that s/he thinks they have been secretly infiltrated by the most dangerous of beings – a mortal! Write a three-page scene in which s/he shares what odd behaviors have been observed to suggest an intruder sans magical powers.
DANGEROUSLY HIGH FLYING
During World War II, the whooshing noise made by canvas and plywood planes overhead reminded the Nazis of the sound a witch’s broomstick might make. Piloting these flimsy aircraft were courageous young Russian women (aka Night Witches) who volunteered to fly bombing missions for the war effort. (Because of their gender, females were banned from enlisting for combat.) One such heroine was Nadezhda Popova.
Your assignment: Take a look at Ms. Popova’s obituary, which can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/world/europe/nadezhda-popova-ww-ii-night-witch-dies-at-91.html?_r=0. Research as much as you can about her and compose a two-page outline of how you would structure a documentary about her life.
A misspelled potion – or a supernatural sneeze - will not only lead to total chaos but also set off a wacky chain-reaction of subsequent incantations to try to fix the damage. Perhaps no better example of spell-spinning ineptitude exists than with Samantha’s ditzy relative, Esmeralda, from Bewitched. No matter how well intentioned her desire to just make herself useful, it was always destined to backfire in alarmingly ridiculous ways.
Your assignment: You have been tasked by a television network to develop a new sitcom with a witch or warlock character that is your age and learning the rudiments of her/his unusual powers. The setting and circa of the storyline can be anything you like. Write a one paragraph synopsis for each of the first six episodes identifying (1) What the spell in that episode was supposed to do, (2) What the spell did instead, and (3) How your character either undid the spell or used it to an unexpected advantage.
PARDON ME, BUT YOU LOOK FAMILIAR
Even witches need minions to run errands, spy on their enemies and slip into places where a witch herself might attract attention. While black cats are most commonly associated with the role of a “familiar,” some sorceresses prefer birds, snakes, frogs or wolves to their bidding.
Your assignment: Write a two-page treatment for an animated film in which it’s the talking animal (of your choosing) that is actually the witch but that needs a human with opposable thumbs, good computer skills and an affinity for housekeeping.
As part of my ongoing commitment to supply great lesson plans for today’s classrooms, I always enjoy getting feedback on how the material is used and what kind of new content you’d like to see in future columns. I’m also happy to answer any questions related to specific problems your students may be struggling with. Just drop me a note at or through my website at http://www.authorhamlett.com.
Former actress/director Christina Hamlett is an award winning author, professional script consultant, and ghostwriter. Her credits to date include 31 books, 157 plays for young actors, and 5 optioned feature films.