There's room for lots of innovation here, so use your imagination and don't be afraid to experiment.
Think about group size & space & sound-level issues; sometimes group students yourself according to skill, talkativeness, interests; sometimes let them choose their own groups (you can make changes if you see these not working); try to make groups accountable for their work, though having each one report out doesn't necessarily work; you'll probably have to stay active during small group work to keep them on the job; can link groups (have one group write 3 questions the text raises, pass them to the right, add 3 more, pass again, answer all 6); can assign roles within small groups (time-keeper, discussion leader, recorder/reporter, etc.)
Have pairs or threes of students share their reponses and confusions with each other at beginning of class; when nobody answers a big general question, try this; ask them what's confusing, write it down; sometimes works for warmup with slow class, lets them get their brains in gear.
Consider alternative kinds of assignments, such as
Shift at some point into fast (2-5 minutes) personal questions about students' related experiences (could you relate to this? How?); then 5-8 minutes writing on specific instance of similar experience; ask for volunteers to share & summarize
- drawing or other art work-design a cover for the text; a set for the play; a conceptual map
- have a mock trial for a character like Oedipus, where guilt is an issue (or several, so more students take part), then have them write it up and hand it in
- have students choose the texts they want to study (stories from a collection or poems ditto)
- acting-have them write a skit based on choice of your scenarios that mix characters from 2 or 3 texts, then perform it; have them walk through a brief scene; run an in-class audition for a play; get volunteers by asking who has acted before, who'd like to act; choose a short chunk of text, have the class work as director; have them decide who they'd cast in a film of the text (and why), also how they'd handle setting, mood, etc.
- write letters or postcards between characters; have one group write questions one character would ask the author, the reader, another character, then pass them to the next group who must answer them from those three perspective
Try taking an extreme interpretive position (e.g., Oedipus is a twit), but phrase it to show them how to take a position they don't necessarily believe (What if I said that O is a twit; Could we make an argument that O is a twit; Did anybody here think at any moment that O is a twit)
Try overhead writing prompts; have them write down or say aloud all the questions they have about something, then separate them into types of questions (in groups first?)
Buy yourself some crayons and big newsprint paper to use in small groups, or if you have a room with lots of chalkboards, use them
Read aloud, especially poetry (and poems probably at least twice); try reading and annotating with the overhead projector; try prereading (again, maybe overhead); have students read aloud, alone or as a group chorus