View all Standards for California VAPA Standards (2001)

2.3 Creation/Invention in Theatre - Create characters, environments, and actions that exhibit tension and suspense.

UNIT

What is Theatre?

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the question “what is theatre?” and analyze it by comparing film and television productions. Each session comes with an journal prompt, a warm up game, and an exit slip for assessment. This is a great unit to start off a school year.

Feel free to customize it as much as you want, and refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials. While you’re analyzing “what is theatre?” with your students, you can introduce classroom procedures and do icebreaker/trust games. You can also remind the kids that Theatre is Ensemble - all of the games they play help to build ensemble.

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UNIT

Stage Movement

by Karen Loftus

In this unit, students are introduced to stage directions and how actors move on stage. They will explore what’s important for onstage action, the basics of stage directions, and how to keep open. By giving students something concrete to focus on, it allows them to overcome any stage fright. Teachers can refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

This unit will culminate with students trying out what they’ve learned in a short scene. Each session comes with an journal prompt and an exit slip for assessment.

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UNIT

Pantomime

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore nonverbal communication through movement, body language, simple mime, and storytelling. They will learn the specific art of pantomime through hand position, tension, follow-through, and action/reaction/interaction with objects through warmup games and exercises.

The unit culminates in a two-person pantomime performance. A rubric is included for the performance 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

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

Improvisation

by Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn 5 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. Teachers can also refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

The unit culminates in a short improv performance. A rubric is included for the performance as long as journal prompts and exit slips.

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UNIT

Commedia Dell'Arte

by Karen Loftus

Students are introduced to, 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.

The unit culminates in a commedia performance. 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

Pantomime

by Angel Borths

Teacher Angel Borths developed this unit when she was looking for lessons to teach the basics of pantomime in the classroom.

This unit culminates in a finished product for performance, either for peers, or for theatre festivals. The rubrics and written work for this unit take planning and preparation for performance into account. The exercises can be pulled out and used independently, but work best when used to build toward a finished product. You can also pull the ground plan and stage directions lesson plans to use with playwriting or directing lessons.

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UNIT

Puppetry

by Jenny Goodfellow

This unit on Puppetry is designed for middle school and up, to introduce students to the material and get them comfortable with performing in a safe and low exposure environment.

This is a unit that builds to a culminating experience for your students. Each lesson is designed to explore techniques, provide opportunities for creative collaboration among your students, and give them opportunities to perform. Some of the lessons require materials to build or create puppets. Puppetry can be as easy as drawing a face on your finger for finger puppets, to actually purchasing your own finger puppets for students to use.

While the focus of this unit is puppetry, your students will explore other skills as well. There’s the obvious ones of creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. They are also going to explore storytelling, performing skills, and playwriting.

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UNIT

Devising

by Corinna Rezzelle

In this unit, students will work with their peers through a series of exercises and activities designed to lead them through the process of creating, writing, rehearsing, and performing a new, original script.

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UNIT

Devising

by Corinna Rezzelle

What is devising? It’s a process of playwriting as a group. Plays are created through improvisation, process dramas, and a lot of teamwork. The Devising Unit includes an overview to get you started, and 12 lessons jam-packed with activities.

This unit includes doing some basic Forum Theatre, which is a technique coined by Augusto Boal. It covers Process Drama in a variety of ways such as Hot Seating, Role on the Wall, and a fun exercise called “Character Bag”. There are also some great bonding games for your students to enjoy.

This unit is designed to show students (and teachers) that playwriting doesn’t have to be a solitary, lonely exercise. It can be a fun, sometimes chaotic, and very energetic experience.

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UNIT

Improvisation in Musical Theatre

by Annie Dragoo

Understanding basic improvisation skills will help musical theatre performers understand that musical theatre is more than just singing and dancing. It’s about using all the tools (voice, body, and mind) an actor has at their disposal to create a character.

This unit focuses more on the improv aspect rather than the musical theatre aspects - in fact students need no prior musical theatre knowledge. Annie Dragoo, creator of the unit, uses this material as her first unit in her musical theatre class. It’s a great introduction and will get your students in the right frame of mind to approach musical theatre.

The lessons explore a variety of improv skills such as vocal responses, movement, character study, sensory awareness and culminate in an improv scene and unit essay.

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UNIT

What is Theatre?

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

Students will establish a definition of theatre, know the difference between theatre and film, and start to explore who’s who in the theatre.

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UNIT

Improvisation

by Lindsay Price and 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 humor.

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UNIT

Pantomime

by Lindsay Price and 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 one-person pantomime performance.

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PD COURSE

Introduction to Teaching Mask

by Allison Williams

In Introduction to Teaching Mask, Allison Williams gives you a toolkit of mask and movement exercises to teach students to make big, confident physical choices, to work in their bodies, and play different characters - masked and unmasked.

Access to masks is required, but previous experience with masks is not.

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PD COURSE

Strong Ensemble = Strong Play

by Craig Mason

This mini-course will give you a toolkit to bring your shows to the next level by having an engaged, active, ensemble.

The ensemble is a critical part of a large cast show. But you can't leave them to fend for themselves. They need structure. They need exercises and activities.

In Strong Ensemble = Strong Play, you'll be given ensemble-building exercises. You'll also discover specific activities that will help your ensemble become three-dimensional characters who have something to do and something to play in every moment they are on stage.

We'll look at case studies that take the exercises learned in the course and apply them to specific shows.

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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

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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PD COURSE

Creating the Ensemble-Based Classroom

by Gai Jones

Gai Jones will help you establish an ensemble-based environment from the first day of class or rehearsal.

Learn how to set up your ensemble-based classroom from day one, get students to set classroom norms, and find the balance between creative activity and structure. You’ll learn how to give your students creative freedom through structure and classroom management. The cornerstone of this course are the detailed ensemble experiences from large group to small group and even individual experiences.

This course culminates in a devising model that you can use with your students, and takes you through process, product, performance and an evaluation.

You too can create the ensemble-based classroom.

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PD COURSE

Coaching Improv

by Jennine Profeta

Second City performer and theatre educator Jennine Profeta is back and ready to help you take your Improv classes to the next level. It’s all getting students to perform - and how to be a great improv coach who can keep them supported and grounded (and having fun!)

In this course, you’ll learn the golden rules of improv. You’ll learn a bunch of improv games (great for warm-ups, teaching tools, and even for competitions). You’ll learn Jennine’s tips and tricks for what to look for when coaching and how to troubleshoot common issues.

The course is designed to help you improv as an ensemble and give you the know-how to coach with confidence whether it’s in the classroom or on the stage!

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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

Beyond the Basics: Rehearsal Strategies to Grow Your Actors

by Julie Hartley

The focus of the teacher-director should be not only on the quality of the show, but on the value of the experience offered to student actors. This course takes you on this journey through practical rehearsal strategies that apply an ensemble approach.

This course starts with those all important first rehearsals, explores warm ups, and looks at character development. We examine specific types of plays, like classical texts and comedy, and concludes with strategies to solve common rehearsal problems.

Go beyond the basics!

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