Directing youth theatre can be one of the most thrilling, rewarding, and exhausting jobs there is – because it’s not just about staging a play. It’s about creating an environment that fosters hard work, dedication, trust, and the willingness to take chances, to “play without fear.”
As a writer/teacher/director of youth theatre for over 15 years, I have developed tools and strategies that enable my students and me to focus on the process of creating theatre while fostering an environment that leads to creative freedom and a cohesive groups that doesn't act as individual “stars,” but as a community of one.
In this course, I will share with you these tips and strategies, along with the ways to implement them in your theatre environment.
TH:Pr6.1.HSIII.a - Present a drama/theatre production for a specific audience that employs research and analysis grounded in the creative perspectives of the playwright, director, designer, and dramaturg.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3 - Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.4 - Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
TH.912.S.2.3 - Demonstrate an understanding of a dramatic work by developing a character analysis for one or more of its major characters and show how the analysis clarifies the character's physical and emotional dimensions.
TA6.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Identify artistic choices, utilize theatre vocabulary, and demonstrate non-verbal communication skills in the rehearsal process.
b. Interpret a character’s motivation by understanding the relationship between their background and their behavior.
c. Identify the variety of relationships between characters.
d. Identify, define, and classify character traits.
e. Recognize and demonstrate the roles, responsibilities, and skills associated with collaborative performance.
f. Use resources to identify and create technical elements of theatre.
TA6.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Execute character creation in a performance.
c. Demonstrate a variety of types of theatre performances.
TA7.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Identify and rehearse effective communication skills.
b. Compare and contrast character types and relationships by analyzing character motivations, objectives, and goals.
c. Compare the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character.
d. Investigate the role and responsibility of the cast and crew.
e. Identify and model ensemble skills in the rehearsal process.
f. Utilize staging and blocking choices to enhance the performance.
g. Compare, contrast, and design elements of technical theatre.
h. Utilize theatre vocabulary throughout the rehearsal process.
TA7.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Execute effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills in performance (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or theatre performance.
c. Engage in various performance styles.
TA7.PR.2 - Execute artistic and technical elements of theatre.
a. Select a variety of technical elements that can be applied to a theatrical work.
b. Incorporate artistic and technical elements into a theatre performance.
TA8.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Differentiate the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a variety of characters.
b. Compare the relationships and interactions between characters by analyzing character motivation (objectives, obstacles, strategy, action, stakes, outcome).
c. Incorporate dramatic elements through improvisation.
d. Connect theatre vocabulary to the application of theatre performance.
e. Identify and demonstrate both ensemble and leadership skills in the rehearsal process.
f. Evaluate the effectiveness of artistic and technical elements used in a theatre production.
g. Design and create scenery, props, costumes, lighting, and sound.
h. Assume different roles and responsibilities in the rehearsal process.
TA8.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Demonstrate the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character in different types of theatre performances (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, motivation, physical movement).
b. Demonstrate appropriate ensemble skills throughout a performance.
c. Use appropriate listening and response skills during performances.
TAHSA.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Use script analysis in the development and presentation of formal and informal theatre performances.
b. Examine various theories of dramatic structure.
c. Engage in and apply meaningful cultural, literary, and historical research to create acting choices or directorial concepts.
TAHSA.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the voice, body, observation, and imagination as tools of the actor in presentations of formal and informal theatre.
b. Research and assess the development of acting skills for character creation and performance including historical movements, personal experience, and cultural influences.
c. Act by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
d. Identify and examine the responsibilities and tasks of an actor in relationship with directors, designers, and technical crew.
e. Use the skills and tools of a director to conduct rehearsals for performance.
TAHSAD.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the skills and tasks associated with acting, incorporating voice, body, observation, and imagination to create characters for formal and informal performances.
b. Implement the duties of the stage manager, including communication and safety procedures, that will assist the director in all areas of production.
c. Develop a schedule and organizational plan to prepare a scene for performance, including a rehearsal schedule and a prompt script.
d. Conduct rehearsals and present a full theatrical presentation to a live audience.
TAHSFT.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Recognize and/or employ realistic and conventional speech patterns within dialogue or dramatic verse.
b. Incorporate dramatic elements through improvisation.
c. Recognize and interpret artistic choices in performance.
TAHSFT.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Observe and demonstrate aspects of verbal and non-verbal techniques in common human activity for performance (e.g. voice, breathing, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Construct and interpret artistic choices in performance including the objectives, decisions, and actions of characters.
c. Explore various acting methods and techniques (e.g. Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, sense memory, emotional recall) for the purpose of character development.
d. Perform acting choices for an audience based on critiques.
TAHSFT.PR.2 - Execute artistic and technical elements of theatre.
a. Identify and define the various collaborative roles and relationships of technical production personnel (e.g. sound, lighting, set, scenic, costume, dramaturge, makeup, marketing, business aspects) in relation to the directors and performers.
b. Identify and apply the various aspects of directing, staging, performance spaces, and rehearsal management.
c. Recognize and apply the basic elements and procedures involved in the construction of props, scenery, and platforms.
d. Formulate effective theatrical designs in order to support the text and directorial concept.
TAHSMT.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Analyze various theories of dramatic structure in a musical and explain how text, music, and movement can be used to advance the plot of a musical.
b. Engage in and apply meaningful cultural, literary, and historical research to support formal or informal theatrical performance.
TAHSMT.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the skills and tasks associated with acting, singing, and dancing, incorporating vocal and movement technique, observation, and imagination to create characters for formal and informal performances.
b. Identify and examine the responsibilities and tasks of an actor in relation to directors, designers, choreographers, technical crew, and production staff.
c. Use the skills and tools of a director to develop a presentation of formal and informal musical theatre performances.
d. Conduct rehearsals to present a musical theatre performance for a live audience.
TAHSMT.PR.2 - Execute artistic and technical elements of theatre.
a. Engage as a creative team in script analysis to plan and create technical elements of a theatre production, including sets, props, costumes, makeup, lighting, and sound.
TAHSTT.CR.1 - Create technical elements of theatre (e.g. sets, props, costumes, makeup, lighting, sound).
a. Explore and utilize the elements of design and principles of composition for a theatrical context.
b. Create basic to advanced technical elements by choosing appropriate materials, tools, and techniques.
c. Analyze and/or develop choices in technical elements (e.g. sets, lights, costumes, sound) of informal and formal productions and theatrical texts as a part of the design process, considering mood, tone, and symbolism.
d. Create industry standard paperwork (e.g. budgets, cut lists, materials, cue sheets, lighting and costume plots, schedules, calendars) as it relates to completing design renderings and/or models.
e. Conceptualize and/or generate design elements for a dramatic work (e.g. scene, one act, full-length, musical).
TAHSTT.PR.1 - Produce technical elements in theatre.
a. Identify, explain, and demonstrate standard safety guidelines and operating procedures for tools and equipment used in formal and informal theatre productions.
b. Identify and interpret design and construction documentation, materials, techniques, and procedures for production.
c. Differentiate between stock and non-standard material, scenic, or technical elements related to a production.
d. Conduct initial research about design to inform further development of the production concept.
e. Explore and/or produce an appropriate series of design documentation for a theatrical production (e.g. thumbnail sketches, swatches, first renderings, mixed media presentation).
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.
C.3.1 - identify and follow safe and ethical practices in drama activities (e.g., exhibit safe use of sound and lighting boards; follow procedures for the environmentally responsible use of materials and energy; prepare an individual or group seminar report on the nature and purpose of one or more of the following: copyright protection, royalties, public domain, intellectual property rights)
C.3.2 - identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., use active listening and cooperative problem-solving skills; practise punctuality; use tact in suggesting changes and improvements; demonstrate willingness to accept criticism and build consensus)
C.3.3 - demonstrate an understanding of theatre and audience etiquette, in both classroom and formal performance contexts (e.g., as a performer: show willingness to take direction and behave appropriately towards other actors; as a viewer: demonstrate respect for performers and other audience members by paying attention, not interrupting or talking, and applauding when appropriate)
C.2.1 - identify ways in which dramatic expression and performance reflect communities and cultures, past and present (e.g., the prominence of socially and/or politically powerful characters in the drama of pre-industrial societies; the use of boy actors for female roles in Shakespearean theatre; the emphasis on religious themes in the drama of many cultures in different eras)
C.2.2 - describe how drama is used for various purposes in a range of social contexts (e.g., to express or celebrate group or community sentiments or values in street theatre or parades; to mark important historical or religious anniversaries of a country or culture; to raise awareness of social, environmental, and political issues; to explore personal relationships or social arrangements)
C.1.1 - identify the drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques used in their own and others’ drama works, and explain how the various components are used, or can be used, to achieve specific effects, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., how a comic drama form can be used to convey a serious message, how setting and time period can be used to sharpen the focus on a moral dilemma, how characters can be used to vary the mood within a drama)
C.1.2 - demonstrate an understanding of and use correct terminology to refer to the forms, elements, conventions, and techniques of drama, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., chorus, protagonist, ingénue, supporting role, act, scene, climax, resolution, improvisation, mask, freeze-frame image)
C.1.3 - demonstrate an understanding of production roles, practices, and terminology when planning and presenting drama works (e.g., set design, costume design, lighting plot, light cue sheet, sound cue sheet, prompt book, set sketch, set model)
B.3.1 - identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities (e.g., brainstorming, active listening, and cooperative problem-solving skills; strategies for sharing responsibility through collaborative team roles)
B.3.2 - identify skills they have developed through drama activities and explain how they can be useful in work and other social contexts (e.g., explain in a journal how their brainstorming and negotiation skills support teamwork in a variety of contexts)
B.3.3 - identify connections between their learning in drama and possible employment opportunities in the broader educational and arts sectors (e.g., production and/or performance roles in community theatre, television/radio broadcasting, filmmaking)
B.2.1 - identify different types of drama and explain their function in diverse communities and cultures from the past and present (e.g., the function of television, film, or video game dramas with predictable plot lines and stock or stereotypical characters in today’s society; the function of theatre in ancient Greece, liturgical drama in medieval Europe, Shakespearean drama in Elizabethan England, and/or “social problem” dramas today)
B.2.2 - explain how dramatic exploration helps develop awareness of different roles and identities people have in society (e.g., explain what they learned through role playing characters from different socio-economic groups)
B.2.3 - describe ways in which different types of dramatic exploration and drama presentations contribute to the school and broader community (e.g., list school productions, community theatre, professional theatre, street theatre, children’s theatre, or school-spirit assemblies they have attended, and describe how they and the audience benefited from the experience)
B.2.4 - identify ways in which dramatic exploration contributes to their understanding of diverse cultures and traditions (e.g., identify insights they gained through exploring the role of ritual in Greek theatre and/or Aboriginal ceremonies)
B.1.1 - use the critical analysis process before and during drama projects to identify and assess individual and peer roles and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., identify and assess the contribution of leadership and supporting roles, group dynamics, and cooperative problem solving to their process of creating drama works)
B.1.2 - analyse a variety of drama works to compare and assess how they explore universal themes and issues (e.g., compare and contrast the handling of similar themes in dramatizations of folk tales, myths, legends, personal stories, and/or Aboriginal tales)
B.1.3 - identify aesthetic and technical aspects of drama works and explain how they help achieve specific dramatic purposes (e.g., write theatre or film reviews assessing whether the lighting, sound, set design, and costumes of a drama are used effectively to illustrate the intended message)
A.3.1 - identify and use a variety of techniques to influence the audience in specific ways (e.g., have actors enter the performance space from the audience to increase audience connection to the drama; use blocking to focus audience attention on key characters or relationships between characters)
A.3.2 - use a variety of voice and movement techniques to support the creation of character or atmosphere during rehearsal (e.g., use voice and movement to suggest an airport, circus, or factory environment)
A.2.1 - select and combine the elements of drama to achieve a variety of purposes in ensemble presentations (e.g., use the elements of character, time, and place in a drama about making a difficult choice; use the elements of time and place to clarify the focus in a drama about a historical event)
A.2.2 - use a variety of conventions to create a distinct voice that reflects a particular global, social, or personal perspective (e.g., use voices in the head, role on the wall, and hot seating to create a complex character from another region or country)
A.1.1 - develop interpretations of issues from contemporary or historical sources (e.g., photographs, videos, music, newspaper/magazine articles, an eyewitness account of a historical event) as the basis for drama
A.1.2 - select and use appropriate forms to present identified issues from a variety of perspectives (e.g., use a radio play, improvisation, or series of tableaux to present two opposing views about a political, social, or environmental issue)
A.1.3 - use role play and characterization to explore personal and social issues (e.g., with a partner, create or assume a role that explores an issue such as bullying; create a scenario that reveals details about a character’s motivation)