DTA | Director's Toolbox 1: Teaching Students to Direct
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Director's Toolbox 1: Teaching Students to Direct

Created by James Van Leishout

In this course, James Van Leishout explores why students should direct, and covers the first two tools in the director’s toolbox: self and the script. What background should every director have? Why should they learn to love research? What should happen in the first four reads of a script?
With every step along the way, there will be exercises and activities your student directors can take on before they step into the rehearsal process.

8 Modules
2 hours, 12 minutes
3 Credit Hours

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Introduction 5:17 FREE PREVIEW
This lesson introduces the course and lays out the details for lessons 2-8.
Lesson 2: Why Students Should Direct 17:22 FREE PREVIEW
This lesson discusses why students should direct in more detail and introduces the tools of self and script.
Lesson 3: The Tool of Self 17:19
This lesson examines a director's training by answering three questions. One, why a student director needs to be a student of their own craft? Two, why a student needs to be culturally literate, especially in theatre, as well as the arts, politics and history, and science and technology? Three, how to help the student director develop a love of research through a nimble mind and an insatiable curiosity?
Lesson 4: The First Read 23:10
Lesson 4 covers the first read of the play, the gestalt and first impressions. Students read the play to garner a sense of the whole play. Students should record their first impressions in the script.
Lesson 5: The Second Read 27:15
In the second read, students will identify the elements of the play, i.e., plot, character, theme, language, music and spectacle. Play structure will be discussed as part of the plot element.
Lesson 6: The Third Read 20:35
The third read takes a closer look at the recurring themes, allusions, motifs and symbols, which lead to a unifying vision, metaphor or concept.
Lesson 7: The Fourth Read 15:25
Lesson 07 covers the fourth read, which applies the proverbial Procrustean bed and creates a battle plan.
Lesson 8: Recap 5:57
Lesson 08 reviews the course and looks at the next course (Director's Toolbox 2).

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Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Pr4.1.HSI.a - Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade 6

TH:Cn11.1.6.a - Identify universal themes or common social issues and express them through a drama/theatre work.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade 6

TH:Cn11.2.6.b - Investigate the time period and place of a drama/theatre work to better understand performance and design choices.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade 7

TH:Cn11.2.7.a - Research and discuss how a playwright might have intended a drama/theatre work to be produced.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Cn11.2.HSI.b - Use basic theatre research methods to better understand the social and cultural background of a drama/theatre work.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade HS Advanced

TH:Cn11.2.HSIII.a - Justify the creative choices made in a devised or scripted drama/theatre work, based on a critical interpretation of specific data from theatre research.

Common Core

California VAPA Standards (2019)

Prof.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

Prof.TH:Pr4.a - Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.

6.TH:Cn11.1 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

6.TH.Cn11.1.a - Identify universal themes or common social issues and express them through a drama/theatre work.

6.TH:Cn11.2 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

6.TH:Cn11.2.b - Investigate the time period and place of a drama/theatre work to better understand performance and design choices.

7.TH:Cn11.2 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

7.TH:Cn11.2.a - Research and discuss how a playwright might have intended a drama/theatre work to be produced.

Prof.TH:Cn11.2 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

Prof.TH:Cn11.2.b - Use basic research methods to better understand the social and cultural background of a drama/theatre work.

Adv.TH:Cn11.2 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

Adv.TH:Cn11.2.a - Justify the creative choices made in a devised or scripted drama/theatre work, based on a critical interpretation of specific data from research.

Florida Sunshine State Standards

Georgia Performance Standards - Theatre Arts

Tennessee Theatre Curriculum Standards

Tennessee Theatre standards (2018) standards were built using the framework of the NCAS which is built on four key domains: Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Connecting, and Responding. Within each of these domains are foundations and standards to support the development of curriculum, programs, and learning.
(source: Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Academic Standards for Fine Arts, Summer 2018)

Please refer to National Core Arts Standards to determine the standard that best suits your needs.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Theatre Arts

HS 117.315 LI - Historical and cultural relevance

C.4.B - relate historical and cultural influences on theatre.

HS 117.316 LII - Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding

C.1.D - analyze dramatic structure and genre.

HS 117.316 LII - Historical and cultural relevance

C.4.A - analyze historical and cultural influences on theatre.

HS 117.317 LIII - Historical and cultural relevance

C.4.A - evaluate historical and cultural influences on theatre.

HS 117.318 LIV - Historical and cultural relevance

C.4.A - evaluate historical and cultural influences on theatre.

Alberta, Canada

Theatre Studies Level II - Intermediate (Theatre History)

4 - recognize that drama exists in every culture

British Columbia (2018)

Ontario, Canada

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