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Theatre History Collection

Courses

Hands-On Theatre History: Anti-Realism

by Wendy-Marie Martin

This course is a mix of individual and group activities requiring students to use both their analytical and creative mind. It gives students an overview on the Anti-Realism movement of the late-19th and early-20th century, and introduces them to some key theorists, playwrights, and theater makers involved in this movement.

Together we will guide students through the wild world of the “isms,” more specifically Symbolism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Expressionism and Absurdism. We will introduce students to various manifestos and theories as we track the characteristics of each of our five “isms.” As we combine analysis and creative exercises, students bring their entire self to process and prepare to design an ISM Theme Park project, which they will share with the class at the end of the course.

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Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality Play

by Wendy-Marie Martin

Who says theatre history has to be boring? Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality play is an interactive course by Wendy-Marie Martin, combining hands-on activities with research and analysis techniques leading to a full performance of the popular medieval morality play, Everyman.

This course gives students an overview of the medieval period and the various medieval play forms and teaches students the key points of storytelling and adaptation.

It includes dynamic individual and group exercises leading students from the first steps of the adaptation process through a final, full-class performance of Everyman—and proves, once and for all, that theatre history can be fun and exciting to learn.

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Units

Agatha Rex and Ancient Greek Theatre

by Angel Borths

Help…It’s all Greek to me! Join Angel Borths in this unit that uses a modern adaptation of the Ancient Greek play Antigone to introduce Middle School students to Ancient Greek Theatre.

Have your students read Percy Jackson and want to find out more about Ancient Greece? Then, this unit is for you. This unit is designed for middle and high school students and will take you through the basics of classical Greek theatre and pairs it with a modern adaptation of the story of Antigone called Agatha Rex by Lindsay Price. Students will learn vocabulary, design, and basic theory surrounding classical Greek theatre. Students will also enjoy the mask building component of this unit, as they learn to disappear into the character of a mask, like the first actors did on a Greek stage thousands of years ago.

The unit culminates in a scene performance with masks.

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Ancient Greek Theatre

by Lindsay Price

In studying Ancient Greece, we’re looking at the foundations of theatre as we know it today. Without the Ancient Greek Era, we do not get actors, theatres, plays, and the definitions of tragedy and comedy.

The issue with studying theatre history, or anything historical is that it can become an exercise in memorizing dates and reciting facts. When the truth of the matter is no one in the 21st century benefits from learning by rote. This is especially true when studying history in the framework of a drama classroom. We need exercises that bring history to life, instead of having students plot dates on a timeline.

To that end, this unit does not focus on dates and data. The essential question for the unit is how can we connect the past to the present and this question is explored through the theatricalization of information. Students will access all four 21st century skills, critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication as they explore this amazing world.

Reflections, exit slips, and rubrics are included throughout the unit as well as a mid assignment evaluation for the culminating project.

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Ancient Greek Theatre

by Karen Loftus

This unit on Ancient Greek Theatre focuses on the function of the chorus, the choral ode, and the details of the theatre space. It touches on plays and playwrights of the era, culminating in a final project of a modern version of Medea that includes a choral ode.

A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Ancient Greek Theatre - It's All Greek to Me! *Hyperdoc

by Lea Marshall

The purpose of this unit is to give students an introduction to independent learning as well as an overview of Ancient Greek theatre. Students will apply their knowledge throughout, and the unit culminates in a group activity.

This unit is delivered in hyperdoc format. What does that mean? A hyperdoc is an interactive tool that encourages digital learning. In this case, students are given a document on a subject, and there they can read articles, watch videos, do some independent research, and apply what they’ve learned. Because they’re working on their own, students are in charge of their own pacing.

Before you start the unit, ensure you read the Teacher Guide first. It will give you clear instructions on how to distribute the hyperdoc format and make it easy for you and your students.

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Anti-Realism

by Wendy-Marie Martin

This unit gives students an overview of the anti-realism movement of the late 19th century and early 20th century and introduces them to some key theorists, playwrights, and theatre makers involved in this movement. Students will be introduced to the “isms” of symbolism, Dadaism, surrealism, expressionism, and absurdism along with various manifestos and theories as we track the characteristics of each “ism.”

In a culminating project, students will design an “ISMS’’ Theme Park, which they will share with the class at the end of the unit. Their project will feature each of the five “isms” in the form of rides, themed concessions areas, entertainment options, and in-park characters.

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Comedy of Manners

by Lindsay Price

The Comedy of Manners is a style of comedy that satirizes the behaviour, actions, fashions, and “manners” of a segment of society. Because it has such specific characteristics – from plot to dialogue, to characterization, to costumes – it’s an excellent era for students to learn and apply.

In this unit students are introduced to the style, learn some background, and apply the traits of the comedy of manners. The unit culminates in the creation of a modern scene.

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East Meets West: Theatre Traditions

by Marsha Walner

We spend a lot of time in the classroom exploring, applying, and creating in a western theatrical tradition. But there are many more styles that students can explore, particularly to the east: Kabuki, Noh, Chinese Opera, and Sanskrit Theatre, for example. In this unit, students will be introduced to an element from each of these eastern styles, they will apply that element and build towards a culminating project. Throughout, students will develop a stronger understanding of both the theatre from their own culture and that of Eastern cultures.

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Elizabethan Theatre

by Karen Loftus

How do you introduce students to Shakespeare? This unit introduces the bard through life in Elizabethan England, the playwrights, players and playhouses. It also explores how to approach unfamiliar words and context clues in Shakespeare’s text.

As with any theatre history unit, you have to decide what’s most important to introduce to the students. For this unit, we’ll focus on three things in the three different categories. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Musical Theatre History Museum Project

by Annie Dragoo

Musical Theatre is a uniquely American art form, explored through this unique unit by instructor Annie Dragoo.

It is divided into two parts: first, students view a documentary called Broadway the American Musical - available on YouTube. Students will reflect after each episode and there is an available viewing quiz.

After viewing, discussing and reflecting on each episode of the PBS Documentary, Broadway: The American Musical, students will research a specific topic in order to create and design a musical theatre museum exhibit. It’s a great three-dimensional demonstration of knowledge, and there is a rubric provided for the completed exhibit.

This is not your traditional textbook history learning!

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Lesson Plans

Compare and Contrast: Theatre spaces

by Lindsay Price

Theatre spaces have changed throughout history, from the outdoor amphitheatres of Ancient Greece to the black box of modern times. In this lesson plan, students will identify what makes a theatre space in a specific era and then compare and contrast two different theatre spaces.

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Emergency Lesson Plan: Elements of Greek Tragedy

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students will study a handout on Ancient Greek Tragedy, take a short quiz and write a reflection.

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Emergency Lesson Plan: Introduction to Molière

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students will read an article and complete quick-fire questions. If you’re in the middle of studying Shakespeare, there’s a compare-and-contrast question that you can use as the class work, or students can complete and grade a quiz.

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Introduction to Medieval Theatre

by Ruth Richards

Students will explore Medieval Theatre by role playing what it would be like to perform at the time. Students form trade guilds, create a medieval market scene, and then work on a morality scenario. Lesson plan comes with a written assignment to be completed after the practical assignment.

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Medieval Drama - Morality Plays

by Lindsay Price

Lessons to cover two class periods. Students learn the elements of a Medieval Morality Play and then create their own morality play with a modern context. Includes a modern version of "Everyman" and three assessment rubrics.

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Medieval Drama - The Mystery Play

by Lindsay Price

Lessons cover two class periods.

Students learn the elements of a Medieval Mystery Play cycle and then create their own Mystery cycle within a modern context. Includes handouts, assignment sheets, and rubrics.

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The 21st Century Story

by Lindsay Price

Theatre is about communication. A story is presented to an audience. Storytelling was one of the earliest forms of entertainment that we continue to use today. Even though the method for delivering the story has changed, the form itself has stayed the same for thousands of years.

In this lesson, students will create their version of the 21st century story. What stories do we tell today? How do we tell them? Who do we tell them to?

You can use this lesson as an intro to studying modern theatre, especially for students who don’t have a theatre background. You can also use this lesson as an intro for Ancient Greek Theatre. Start by examining stories in a modern context, then shift to the Ancient Greek era.

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The Ancient Greeks

by Lindsay Price

The Ancient Greek Theatre is the birth of the modern theatre. We can look at the production of theatre in that time and see similarities to how we present theatre today. But where do we start? And how do we make theatre history more than the collection of data? It’s hard for students to conceptualize an era that happened so long ago as populated with real people. This lesson plan encourages discussion, application, and reflection on the Ancient Greeks.

Be sure to check out the Ancient Greek Theatre handout as an accompaniment to this lesson. A powerpoint link is also included that is ready to use in your classroom!

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The Ancient Greeks - Handout

by Lindsay Price

This handout is designed as an accompaniment to The Ancient Greeks lesson plan. The two-page handout includes visuals and a description of who the ancient greeks were, including democracy/slavery, the role of women, war/culture, competition, and the Gods.

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The Globe Theatre

by Lindsay Price

Students will read The Globe Theatre Handout. Based on the given information, students will re-create the experience of going to The Globe and complete a compare and contrast assignment.

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Where Did Drama Begin?

by Ruth Richards

Students will explore the origins of drama through ritual and chant. After discussing modern versions, students will create a ritualistic chant using choral speaking, and synchronized movements.

Lesson Plan comes with an evaluation sheet and a rubric.

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Who is Thespis?

by Lindsay Price

Thespis is often stated as being the first actor because he stepped away from the chorus. But who is he? What do we know as fact and what has been assumed as his origin story? What happens when unreliable evidence is recorded as historical fact? Does it matter?

In this lesson, students will draw their own conclusions about the validity of Thespis as a reliable figure in theatre history. They will also write a monologue from the perspective of a character who shares their viewpoint.

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Who is Thespis? Project Version

by Lindsay Price

Thespis is often stated as being the first actor because he stepped away from the chorus. But who is he? What do we know as fact and what has been assumed as his origin story? What happens when unreliable evidence is recorded as historical fact? Does it matter?

In this lesson, students will research, present and draw their own conclusions about the validity of Thespis as a reliable figure in theatre history. They will then write and present a scene that showcases their viewpoint.

*This lesson requires internet accessibility (for students to research for the project) either during class time or afterward as assigned homework.

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Individual Resources

A Guide to the Elizabethan Age

A comprehensive guide to the Elizabethan Age, including historical details, the Elizabethan Theatre, and Staging the Elizabethan Play.

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Directing the Absurd Play

How do you direct something with no plot, nonsense dialogue and uninformative characters? How do you approach the Absurd play? How do you help students approach the Absurd play? This guide comes complete with exercises to help with Theatre of the Absurd plays.

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Elizabethan Theatre

This guide to Elizabethan Theatre includes details on the Life of a Playright in Elizabethan times, including biographies of Elizabethan playwrights (including Shakespeare). It includes exercises and activities for 4 of Shakespeare's plays.

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Theatre Eras: Commedia dell'Arte

Use these trivia questions as part of unit review, or as an introduction to material.

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Theatre Eras: Elizabethean

Use these trivia questions as part of unit review, or as an introduction to material.

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Theatre Eras: Japanese

Use these trivia questions as part of unit review, or as an introduction to material.

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Theatre Eras: Medieval

Use these trivia questions as part of unit review, or as an introduction to material.

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Theatre Eras: Roman

Use these trivia questions as part of unit review, or as an introduction to material.

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PLCs

Theatre History

Hosted by Matt Webster, Lindsay Price, Lea Marshall, Wendy-Marie Martin

Theatre History should be a part of every drama curriculum. But with all the plays and dates and people and places how do you avoid a month of textbooks, tests, and learning by rote? How do you make theatre history come alive in your classroom? Can you make it active? Can you make it fun? Join us for this discussion on bringing the past to life in the present.

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