8.TH:Pr5.a Use a variety of acting techniques to increase skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.
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.
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.
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’ll take what they’ve learned and create a 5-minute play with a monologue that they’ll perform. They’ll also describe the overall design of the show and create a ground plan and rendering for their design.
Finally, they’ll market their show by creating a poster and a press release. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.
by Anna Porter
Musical Theatre has two components that separate it from straight plays: song and dance. This unit gives students the opportunity to try out both. In musical theatre, music signifies heightened emotion. We can’t express ourselves with just words, we need music (and through extension, song and dance) to take it further.
This unit includes three lesson plans:
1. Acting the Song - “Musical Tactics”
2. Acting the Song - “Textual Analysis”
3. Introduction to Dance
A solo performance assignment is also included, and the unit includes assessment tools - rubrics, reflections, and self-evaluations.
by Anna Porter
The voice is a key element in performance and can be used in many ways. In this introductory voice unit with instructor Anna Porter, students will explore how to thoughtfully communicate character, story and emotion vocally.
Lesson one focuses on the articulators and the importance and of speaking clearly on stage. Lesson two introduces students to the use of vocal variety with pitch, tone, rate and volume. In lesson three, students develop a character with background as well as design a puppet. Lesson four brings together the elements of voice studied in this unit to create vocal characterization.
Through this four lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions and practice the elements taught by performing for their peers and as a class. Assessment tools include both informal assessment as well as a final puppet show performance.
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.
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).
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.
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.
by John Minigan
The objective of this unit by John Minigan is to move students from a traditional presentational model of performance to a three-dimensional model. You’re going to achieve this by having students
- Develop tactics to achieve character goals, despite obstacles
- Connect physical choices to scene structure and relationships
- Clarify tactics and story rather than forcing emotion
- And focus on the scene partner rather than the self
This unit was created to use with grade nine students as a transition from middle school to high school acting approaches. It would also be appropriate for a beginning-of-the-year unit for a program that includes Drama 1. But any class that is at the beginning of their acting process will find value.
Each lesson comes with an engagement Rubric to assess how students participated in the activities and discussions.
by Annie Dragoo
Musical theatre performers use their bodies to sing, to dance, and to act. We must think of our bodies as instruments and learn to use our instruments properly in order to be better musical theatre performers.
The overall objective with this unit, by Annie Dragoo, is for students to demonstrate an understanding of the use of good movement as it connects to musical theatre. Some of the activities include using action verbs, moving as animals and inanimate characters, nonverbal communication and situational movement. Students will then perform a scene that will allow them to put to practice all the movement techniques they have learned.
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.
by Annie Dragoo
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the foundations of acting. At the end of the unit, students will be able to understand the value of making rich acting choices on stage.
This unit gives students an opportunity to explore and develop acting skills on a more advanced level, regardless of experience. They will explore skills, including voice, movement, emotional recall, memory, playing objectives, and character development culminating in a final scene.
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.
by Steven Stack
Directing youth theatre can be one of the most thrilling, rewarding, and exhausting jobs there is – because it’s not just about staging a play. It’s about creating an environment that fosters hard work, dedication, trust, and the willingness to take chances, to “play without fear.”
As a writer/teacher/director of youth theatre for over 15 years, I have developed tools and strategies that enable my students and me to focus on the process of creating theatre while fostering an environment that leads to creative freedom and a cohesive groups that doesn't act as individual “stars,” but as a community of one.
In this course, I will share with you these tips and strategies, along with the ways to implement them in your theatre environment.
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.
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.
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.
by Todd Espeland
In this class, Serious Play, the instructor will lead you through a series of games in risk, movement, focus, and voice. You will get access to a series of all inclusive games that you can string together to make one giant game that is great to use in rehearsal. You will learn how and when to use these games.
You'll get ideas on how to craft your own warm-up lesson plan; and, most importantly, you'll learn about about a pre-class warm-up that you can do on your own so that you can get yourself into that third stage of the creative brain, so that you can begin trying out interesting, creative, and risky choices for yourself in your classes and in rehearsals.
by Elisabeth Oppelt
In this course, you will learn what breath control and projection are, how to breathe from your diaphragm and speak loudly without yelling, and how to teach these skills to your students. Led by teacher and singer Elisabeth Oppelt, this course will be helpful both in your teaching practices and in creating material to teach your students. This course also includes both formal and informal assessments for you to use in your classroom.
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 I: Playing Comedy - Todd teaches the principles of comedy through four key elements: status, appetite, swing, and intention/invention. This course provides an excellent foundation upon which to explore Commedia to its fullest. Includes bonus videos, handouts, reflections, and exit slip question ideas for each lesson.
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.
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!
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!
by Colin Oliver
Colin Oliver leads this introduction to teaching Musical Theatre in the Drama Classroom.
In this course, you will learn how to build musical theatre into your dramatic courses of study. “Why might you want to do that? Singing is scary! You want me to teach my students how to do it? I don’t even know how to do it.” This course approaches musical theatre preparation performance much as we would approach preparing a monologue in drama. If you use script analysis in monologue preparation in your class, you can teach musical theatre.
By the end of this course, you’ll have a great, full-body physical warm-up, a student-driven research assignment, character development exercises, a little bit of musical theory, and a performance assignment complete with assessment.
So, join us for teaching Musical Theatre in the Drama Classroom. It’s as easy as Do-Re-Mi!
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 conclude with strategies to solve common rehearsal problems.
Go beyond the basics!
by Jennine Profeta
Jennine Profeta, Second City performer and theatre educator, leads this course. This course was designed to give a teacher tools to create a safe environment in which students can go beyond their old patterns to take risks, embrace failure, be more confident and aware of the effects of their word choice. The course includes modules on risk-taking, creating a safe environment, failure, confidence, and positive/negative speak.
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