National Core Arts Standards TH:Cr2.1.HSIII.a
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National Core Arts Standards
Organize and develop artistic ideas and work - Grade HS Advanced

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TH:Cr2.1.HSIII.a Develop and synthesize original ideas in a drama/theatre work utilizing critical analysis, historical and cultural context, research, and western or non-western theatre traditions.

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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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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Performing Shakespeare

by Matt Webster

In this unit, students are introduced to a series of lesson plans that explore non-traditional approaches to performing the works of William Shakespeare. By the end of the unit students will be exposed to a unique set of tools they can utilize as the foundations for analyzing, staging and performing a scene from Shakespeare’s canon. Students will then rehearse and perform a two-person Shakespearean scene.

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Commedia dell'Arte

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th century masked acting form. It is the basis of all comedy, including all tv sitcoms. This form is characterized by masked types and archetypical characters and a specific way of playing comedy. To that end, this unit is divided into two parts.

Part One focuses on the foundations of commedia - playing comedy. These principles will be important to learn when it comes to developing commedia characters, specifically the physicality of the characters. Part Two will cover lazzi.

Note: there are links to video demos in many of the lessons of this unit.

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Our Town Unit

by Lindsay Price

This is a read, discuss, and apply literature unit. Students will study the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

Our Town is often referred to as “nostalgic.” It’s seen as an antiquated look at a moment in time. But this play is called Our Town, not My Town. What’s happening in Grover’s Corners happened in the past, the distant past, in our present, and even in the future. The themes of the play—the ordinary versus universality, the concept of time, the cycle of life, the ignorance of humanity to the eternal—these are just as relevant in the twenty-first century as they were when the play was written.

The purpose of the unit is not to have students recall knowledge about the play. Students will be able to identify, articulate, and dramatize text themes and concepts and compare/contrast these concepts to their own experiences.

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Unit 1: Before and Beyond Ancient Greek Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

In the study of theatre history, when we discuss the origins of theatre, most start with the Ancient Greeks. Unit 1 of this curriculum will look at the theatre of Ancient Egypt, Sanskrit drama, and Indigenous storytelling.

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Unit 2: Greek & Roman Origins

by Drama Teacher Academy

For Ancient Greece, we will examine the ritual origins of tragedy and the Festival of Dionysus. We will explore the theatre conventions of the day including the amphitheatre, the use of masks, costumes, and other theatrical devices. Finally, we will introduce the main playwrights and their key plays. Then we will take a short look at Roman theatre with their wholesale appropriation of Greek culture.

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Unit 3: Medieval Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

We journey from the Dark Ages to the emergence of Medieval drama. The liturgical or religious drama appeared in the churches as a means of religious instruction. Along the way, production moved from being written in Latin to the local vernacular and then outgrew the churches. The guilds then took over the production responsibilities. The plays came in four types: mystery, miracle, morality, and mummers plays. These can be remembered as the four Ms of Medieval drama.

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Unit 3: Medieval Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

We journey from the Dark Ages to the emergence of Medieval drama. The liturgical or religious drama appeared in the churches as a means of religious instruction. Along the way, production moved from being written in Latin to the local vernacular and then outgrew the churches. The guilds then took over the production responsibilities. The plays came in four types: mystery, miracle, morality, and mummers plays. These can be remembered as the four Ms of Medieval drama.

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Unit 4: Commedia Dell'Arte

by Drama Teacher Academy

We take a side trip to Italy to discover a secular comedic form: Commedia Dell’arte.
Students will be introduced to the form, explore the characters and themes, and put their knowledge to practical application by creating a commedia character.

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Unit 5: Asian Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

It’s important to step outside of Western Eurocentric Theatre. In this unit, we are going to focus on the Asian theatre forms that developed in China and Japan. Note: We acknowledge that a unit on Asian theatre that only covers the theatre origins of two countries does not represent Asia. To go beyond what is offered here please see the Diversity
Document.

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Unit 6: Theatre of the Renaissance

by Drama Teacher Academy

In this unit, we return to Western theatre and to Italy, where we will witness the birth of the Renaissance and the discovery of linear perspective. Then we travel on to the Golden Age of Spanish theatre. We will pass by the Elizabethan Golden age (we’ll cover it in the next unit) and end the Renaissance journey by discovering French neoclassicism and the Rules of Drama.

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Unit 7: The Elizabethan Golden Age

by Drama Teacher Academy

We continue our look at the Renaissance era with the Elizabethan Golden Age. This golden age of theatre started when James Burbage built the first permanent playhouse in England, called The Theatre. Of the more than 80 playwrights in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, the three most significant were Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare. This age came to an abrupt end when the Puritans executed King Charles I, abolished the crown, and closed all the theatres.

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Unit 8: Restoration Comedy & 18th Century Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

We will travel through two time periods in this unit. First, we will explore Restoration Comedy in late 17th century England. When the Puritan-led Commonwealth failed and King Charles II was restored to the throne, theatre was also restored. The Comedy of Manners mocked the behaviour and loose morals of the upper class. The lack of theatrical works in the 18th century comes down to three things: playwrights tended to write for opera rather than theatre, censorship and control of theatrical content, and, more than anything, society of the day valued conformity over originality. In France and England, fearing attacks and mockery, the crown and the government passed laws that strictly censored theatre.

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Unit 9: Romanticism

by Drama Teacher Academy

Romanticism broke away from the strictures of the neoclassical era preferring instead the Medieval/Gothic periods. The Romantic notion of finding beauty and humanity in the ugly is epitomized by Quasimodo in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The movement rejected Enlightenment, scientific rationalism, and the Industrial Revolution; rather, it embraced intuition and emotion over reason. On one hand, the tail end of neoclassicism led to the well-made play. On the other hand, the emphasis on emotion led to melodrama and an artificial declamatory acting style.

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Culminating Project

by Drama Teacher Academy

The goal of this culminating assignment is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of a variety of theatre history eras; connect, compare, and contrast between the eras; and, lastly, to connect, compare, and contrast what has happened in the past to what is happening in the present.

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Friendly Shakespeare

by Todd Espeland

Friendly Shakespeare teaches a simple and effective method of script analysis for Shakespeare. It uses punctuation and keywords in the text to help students understand the characters' needs, make specific acting choices, and get them on their feet immediately.

This is not dry, sitting in a classroom discussion. It’s physicalizing the text, focusing on the character’s needs and tactics (something every drama student should know full well) and bringing Shakespeare to life.

At the end of the class you will be able to demystify Shakespeare's text and understand how to help your actors make clear, active and emotionally connected choices in Shakespeare's plays.

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Laban: Advanced Characterization

by Todd Espeland

Learn about the Laban system to teach your students to physically and vocally discover character. This is an advanced course, which means that the course goes deep into exploring character and exploring character work through the work of Rudolph Laban.

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Close Reading in the Drama Classroom

by Lindsay Price

Close reading is an activity that puts curriculum standards into practice and it can be easily applied to the drama classroom.

Close reading asks a lot of your students. They have to read and think at the same time.

This course teaches drama teachers how the close reading process works, and gives them exercises and tools to apply it in the classroom.

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The Do-it-All Director's Introduction to Set Design

by Holly Beardsley

Holly Beardsley is a do-it-all director. She started directing middle and high school students in her early college years and since then has written over ten shows and directed twice as many.

Do-it-all directors are responsible for everything it seems – the direction, the costuming, the choreography and of course, the set too. And though directors are ready to direct, to costume and even dance, there is something intimidating about designing and building a set.

The Do-it-All Director’s Introduction to Set Design will give you the director, who must do-it-all, the confidence and skills to not only direct but build your own set as well - no matter your experience or budget. This course will teach you set design basics, construction tips, budget tricks, and how to tackle your precious performance space armed with a hammer, and most importantly, without fear.

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Commedia II: Style

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th Century masked acting form. It’s the basis of all comedy and it’s a form that many teachers want to include in their curriculum.

Instructor Todd Espeland has designed two courses that work hand-in-hand with teaching this fantastic physical form.

In Commedia II: Style - Todd moves on to the specific style of Commedia dell’arte. This includes a history of commedia, the stock characters and how to physicalize them, sample lazzi and a capstone assignment. The course includes video demonstrations so you can see the exercises and activities in action.

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21st Century Skills Through Devising

by Allison Williams

Allison Williams leads the course: 21st Century Skills Through Devising. This course covers what devising is, why to do it, how to do it, and how your students can master the 21st Century Skills of collaborations and cooperation, critical thinking, creative thinking through devising.

High school is a great place to try devising with your students. But it’s not something you want to throw at your students without any preparation. Framework is important and this course takes you through a number of exercises you can take into the classroom tomorrow to help build a place of physical safety, a place where students work at making a lot of choices instead of waiting for the perfect choice, and a place where students feel comfortable making creative choices. The material also reviews the process of putting together a show from the idea/research stage to editing, to giving feedback.

Your students have what it takes to create their own material, collaborate with each other, and have a unique theatrical experience!

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