California VAPA Standards (2019) 7.TH:Cn11.2.a
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California VAPA Standards (2019)
7.TH:Cn11.2 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

View all Standards for California VAPA Standards (2019)

7.TH:Cn11.2.a Research and discuss how a playwright might have intended a drama/theatre work to be produced.

Monologue Writing Made Easy

by Matthew Banaszynski

Join Matt Banaszynski in this dynamic unit designed to introduce students to the process of starting, drafting, polishing, and performing a self-created, stand-alone monologue.

Students will learn the steps involved in going from a simple idea to a full monologue, using the Story Mountain framework. They will also provide feedback, self-critiques, and teacher feedback during the process.

This is a great way for students to get creative and engaged in a genre that is meaningful to them, and can be customized to the needs of your classroom.

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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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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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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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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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Creating Your Own Musical

by Laramie Dean

Instructor Laramie Dean uses this unit as the final project for his Drama 2 students. Drawing upon any of the skills students have developed throughout they create a product that could be used within a new piece of musical theatre.

Students start by analyzing three musicals, study guides included, and practice creating musical elements. They are then giving class time to prepare in groups as many elements as their can for a new musical using devised theatre techniques.

There are 24 lessons in this unit which culminates in a final assessed performance.

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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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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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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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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 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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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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Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality Play

by Wendy-Marie Martin

Who says theatre history has to be boring? Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality play is an interactive course by Wendy-Marie Martin, combining hands-on activities with research and analysis techniques leading to a full performance of the popular medieval morality play, Everyman.

This course gives students an overview of the medieval period and the various medieval play forms and teaches students the key points of storytelling and adaptation.

It includes dynamic individual and group exercises leading students from the first steps of the adaptation process through a final, full-class performance of Everyman—and proves, once and for all, that theatre history can be fun and exciting to learn.

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