Drama One Curriculum

This is a curriculum map for a comprehensive theatre class. The purpose of the curriculum is to give students an overview of theatre in general. The super objective of this course is to have students “bring it all together” at the end in a culminating project.

The essential questions for the year:

  • What are the most important tools of the actor?
  • Who’s who in the theatre?

The answer to the first question is mind, body, and voice. Each unit reflects one of those tools: pantomime—body, improvisation—mind, etc. The answer to the second is explored throughout the curriculum.

14 Units

Drama One Overview

by Karen Loftus

This is a curriculum map for a comprehensive theatre class. The purpose of the course is to give students an overview of theatre in general. The super objective of this course is to have the students “bring it all together” at the end in a culminating project.

Every unit has padding to allow for teacher's own games, reward games, warm ups, cool downs and just time for when class is interrupted, canceled, or a concept needs to be repeated. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

The overview provides a list of all of the units, and provides a description and outline for each - so teachers can get a sense of how the curriculum works together as a whole, or which parts they may choose to use. A choice board for independent work, with all activities fully explained, is also included for each unit.

What is Theatre?

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the question “What is theatre?” and contrast theatre to film. They will also begin their introduction to a couple of theatre roles.

Stage Movement

by Karen Loftus

Students will get “onstage.” They will explore what is important for onstage action, the basics of stage directions, and how to keep open. This unit will culminate with students trying out what they’ve learned in a short scene.
This unit is more about the technicalities of moving on stage. By giving students something concrete to focus on, it allows them to overcome any stage fright.
Ensemble-building exercises are also included in this unit. If you have time at the end of a lesson after you’ve completed your instruction and are wondering what to do, you can never go wrong with an ensemble-building exercise!


by Karen Loftus

In this unit, students will explore nonverbal communication: first, through body language and gesture, and then through the specific art of pantomime. Students will learn hand position, tension, follow-through, and action/reaction/interaction with objects through warm-up games and exercises. The unit culminates in a two-person pantomime performance.


by Karen Loftus

This unit focuses specifically on the technical aspects of vocal production. By understanding how voice is created, students will be more aware of how to improve their vocal production. Students will explore posture and breathing exercises, as well as how to use the diaphragm, projection, and articulation. The final project will test students’ ability to properly project and articulate a joke across a large space.

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.


by Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn five specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humour.
There are so many different ways to approach a unit on improvisation. Keep in mind that you will have students who are really excited about this unit and some students who dread it. It’s best to start with low-risk games and exercises and then build up to higher-risk ones. Low-risk games in this situation mean partnered interactions that aren’t shared with the whole class.

Commedia Dell'Arte

by Karen Loftus

Students will discover, analyze, and explore the history, characters, and style of commedia dell’arte.

Commedia dell’arte is a theatre history unit mixed with improvisation, physicalization, and exploring specific characters. In this unit, we’re going to focus on three main aspects:
1. Causes and Effects of Commedia (History)
2. Stock Characters
3. Commedia Performance Practices

Script Analysis: The Actor's Perspective

by Karen Loftus

How does an actor analyze a script? Students start with character analysis (how do we learn about a character in a script? what are the facts/inferences about a character?) and then explore the ideas of “objective,” “obstacle,” “stakes,” and “tactics.” The unit culminates with students applying learned script-analysis techniques on an assigned scene.

Elizabethan Theatre

by Karen Loftus

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


by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the structural elements of a play: character, objective, obstacles, tactics, resolution, and raising the stakes. They will also learn how to write character-driven dialogue and stage directions. Students will work in groups to create and present a short play.

Japanese Theatre

by Karen Loftus

This unit will enable students to identify, compare, and contrast three different styles of Japanese theatre: Noh, Bunraku, and Kabuki. There are three proposed projects in this unit: a research assignment where groups delve into further detail about one of the three styles; a performance project where students utilize what they’ve learned by enacting a scene from a Kyogen (comedic) play; and a Bunraku puppet play.

Scenic Design

by Karen Loftus

This unit will focus on the basics: what is scenic design? How do the scenic designer and director collaborate? What is the process that the scenic designer goes through? The unit will also explore basic drafting techniques, and rendering techniques.

Based on what they learn, students will create a ground plan and a rendering. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

Front of House

by Karen Loftus

This unit looks at theatre jobs in the business category: front of house, marketing, and box office. The aim of these jobs is to interact with the public. Students are able to identify what “front of house” refers to and understand the various roles of a theatre company’s front of house members.
Students will also explore how a show is marketed and demonstrate their knowledge of marketing by creating a simple marketing campaign for an original show.

Drama One Final Project

by Karen Loftus

The final project will incorporate multiple areas that students have studied over the course of the year/semester: playwriting, acting, scenic design, and marketing. They are putting everything they’ve learned into a final package, including writing, rehearsing, and performing.

© Copyright 2015-2024 Theatrefolk