National Core Arts Standards TH:Re9.1.HSIII.a
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National Core Arts Standards
Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work - Grade HS Advanced

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TH:Re9.1.HSIII.a Research and synthesize cultural and historical information related to a drama/theatre work to support or evaluate artistic choices.

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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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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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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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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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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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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Shakespeare's Toolkit

by Todd Espeland

Todd Espeland has the experience to know that having more tools in your toolbox makes you a better actor. This is especially important when teaching students how to approach Shakespeare. They need help breaking through the language barrier and into the character’s needs and into the character’s thoughts.

The tools that you’ll receive in this course will do just that. The course looks at scansion as a tool for breaking down Shakespeare’s verse, the importance of end of lines, and caesura. Caesura is an inner-line pause which is a lot of fun to play with and really, helps us provide insight to the character’s thoughts and into their needs.

The course provides numerous examples and handouts, and culminates in a performance assignment to use with your students.

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Director's Toolbox 1: Teaching Students to Direct

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.

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