View all Standards for California VAPA Standards (2001)

1.3 Comprehension and Analysis of the Elements of Theatre - Identify the use of metaphor, subtext, and symbolic elements in scripts and theatrical productions.

UNIT

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.

A rubric is included for the project as long as journal prompts and exit slips. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

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.

The unit comes with a Google Slide Deck to help students visualize the information. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Theatre of the Absurd

by Lea Marshall

WARNING: This unit is ABSURD. However, instructor Lea Marshall decided to do something really ABSURD with the unit, which was make it a bit more predictable. First, the unit takes two lessons to go over the Historical and Philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. It starts with just a visual exercise to really bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the Absurdist movement into the Theatres.

Next, students break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. With each lesson that introduces an Absurdist Element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element. Then, students explore the element through an Absurdist text. This will help familiarize the students with the 4 Absurdist scripts used in the unit. These bite sized forays into the scripts will help students to choose a script to fully immerse themselves in for the final project.

As a final project, students will choose one script to work with, and choose the format of their project (performance, costume or set design, or playwright).

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UNIT

Shakespeare Performance

by Anna Porter

In this unit by Anna Porter, students are introduced to the works of Shakespeare and explore how to bring a character to life in a monologue performance. Students are also introduced to the tools to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. Through this eleven lesson series, students will participate in class discussions, activities and performance. Assessment tools include informal assessment, submission of textual analysis work and a final performance.

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UNIT

Unlocking Shakespeare's Text

by Anna Porter

Shakespeare’s text holds valuable tools that students can use to unlock and understand meaning. In this unit by Anna Porter, students explore how to use the tools of research, context, textual analysis, imagery and punctuation to help them unlock meaning in Shakespeare’s text. This unit is created for an Intermediate to Advanced drama class with a basic background in plot structure and acting technique.

Through this five lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions, activities and performance to explore the tools used to unlock a text. Assessment tools include informal assessment as well as a final group presentation and performance.

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UNIT

Aristotle's Elements

by Lea Marshall

Aristotle was a huge fan of the theatre. He philosophically believed in it and argued with other great thinkers at the time about the necessity and good results of theatrical pursuits. This makes him a great topic for a drama classroom unit.

Aristotle identified six elements that needed to be in a play for it to be worthy: plot, thought, character, diction, spectacle, and sound. This unit by Lea Marshall focuses on and offers exercises for each of Aristotle’s elements - from using fairy tales to examine plot, to re-imagining movie trailers to explore music.

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UNIT

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

Theatre of the Absurd

by Lea Marshall

We included this unit in our Distance Learning Curriculum because if any group of students would understand how the world turned upside down and then apply it to theatre, it would be the students dealing with a global pandemic.

First, we take two lessons to go over the historical and philosophical background of Theatre of the Absurd. We start with a visual exercise to bring students into the emotional bleakness of the landscape and then group work to look at some of the other foundational elements that will drive the absurdist movement into the theatres. Next, we break down absurd scripts into some “recognizable” elements of language, plot structure, acting choices, and storyline. In each lesson that introduces an absurdist element, there is an opportunity for students to “play” with the element.

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PD COURSE

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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PD COURSE

Big Picture Blocking: Staging Your Play Outside-In

by Todd Espeland

Working in educational theatre I know how easy it is to get bogged down in actor coaching and away from the bigger picture storytelling when directing a show. I saw a need for a method of text analysis and physical staging tools that help the director stay focused on the bigger picture of telling the story of the play.

This class is in two parts: The first consists of the text analysis tools P.A.S.T.O and Major Dramatic Question. From these tools you will brainstorm keywords to define your vision of the story.

In the second part of the class you will focus on taking the information generated in the text analysis and crafting the ideas into vibrant physical pictures through an exercise called Starburst.

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PD COURSE

The Do-it-All Director's Introduction to Costuming

by Holly Beardsley

Do you know the difference between a bustle and a buckram frame? Or what works best as an emergency hem? Some directors are blessed with a big budget and a full support staff—a choreographer, a set designer, and a costumer. But the drama teacher often becomes director, choreographer, set designer, and costumer all in one.

And a budget? What’s a budget? The Do-It-All Director’s Introduction to Costuming will give you, the director, who must do it all, the confidence and skills to costume and direct, no matter your experience or budget. This course will teach you costuming basics, budget tricks, organization, and most importantly, the art of costuming as a director.

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PD COURSE

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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PD COURSE

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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PD COURSE

Concept-Based Design for the Theatre Teacher

by Matt Webster

Concept-Based Design is a method of design that allows the director and production team to create a unified world based on the ideas, perceptions and images extracted from an in-depth analysis of the play. Matt Webster designed this course for theatre teachers in a typical school setting with limited budgets, space and materials to use towards the design of their shows. Many theatre teachers feel most unsure about their design and tech skills and Matt wanted to help those teachers look at design differently, and make designing a show a little less scary and a little more fun!

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PD COURSE

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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PD COURSE

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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PD COURSE

Maximizing Your Ensemble: Shoestring 101

by Michael Calderone

This seven-part series is designed to transform that gaggle of actors cluttering your backstage from cumbersome extras into nothing less than the very center of your production.

Instructor Michael Calderone leads this course, through games and exercises geared to maximize your ensemble for your next production. These lessons are based on the ensemble technique that he's been using for the last 30 years, called the shoestring method.

The ensemble has a responsibility to work as one, and no role is more important than another. Without each actor playing their part, the other actors cannot tell the story to the best of their abilities. So join Michael in learning more about this exciting, practical and dramatic method.

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PD COURSE

Director's Toolbox 2: Teaching Students to Direct

by James Van Leishout

Director’s Toolbox 2: Teaching Students to Direct, explores the tools of the actor, rehearsal, space, and design.
The tool of the actor will focus on creating a safe place to play, auditions, and how to communicate with actors.
Rehearsals will look at the whole process from the first meeting to opening night.
The tool of space will explore how to direct in different spaces and how to create focus through stage composition.
Discover how an understanding of the elements of design help student-directors communicate with designers. The final step is a return to self and the mastery of self evaluation.

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PD COURSE

Play Adaptation Project

by Lindsay Price

Adaptation is a fabulous classroom project: it requires students to analyze, adapt, modify, plan synthesize, devise. All the higher order thinking skills.

But you can’t just throw a narrator into a script and call it a day. You have to have a preparation process leading up to the writing process.

In this course you will learn practical exercises and a path to prepare your students to take on their own adaptation project. We’ll look at the guidelines to adaptation, things to think about when choosing a text, how to analyze the source material and writing that first draft.

So join me, Lindsay Price, in the Play Adaptation Project.

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View all Standards for California VAPA Standards (2001)    Standards Master List