Collaborate through reciprocal relationships during creative processes
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.
by Lindsay Price
This unit provides an introduction to the process of playwriting in a practical step-by-step framework. Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit will give students the tools they need to write their first short play and gain the confidence they need to write further. The culminating project for this unit is a three- to five-page play or extended scene.
by Lindsay Price
Every drama program should have a playwriting unit. Playwriting applies creative thinking skills and, through feedback and revision, critical thinking skills. Playwriting also allows students to engage in self-expression. It is a powerful act to take one’s thoughts, give them to a character, and have them said aloud.
Playwriting can be a practical task-driven process that any student can accomplish, given the right parameters. This playwriting unit is broken into two parts. This unit is Part 1.
Part 1 is a standalone playwriting unit for beginning writers. Students go step by step through the elements of the playwriting process, which culminates in a short scene, monologue, and character profile. All the exercises can be done synchronously in your class sessions or small groups through breakout rooms.
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.
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
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.
by Karen Loftus
A unit on stage management is a great way to link technical theatre, acting, and even directing. We spend so much of our class time on performance-related projects and, when we do address technical theatre, we often do so by talking about design.
Why not introduce your students to a skill set that not only benefits your productions by ensuring a strong backstage crew and smooth production process, but also benefits the students individually? Through exploring stage management, students learn skills such as analytical thinking, organization, teamwork, and problem solving.
by Anna Porter
In this unit, students explore how to communicate with their body by exploring elements of physicality and Pantomime. Lesson one helps students explore body awareness as well as the use of the senses and details in pantomime performance. In lesson two, students explore body language and how it is used to communicate by examining the art of flirting. Lesson three helps students create a distinct physical characterization. Lesson four introduces students to the quality of Pantomime – Consistency. In lesson five, students explore the quality of exaggeration in pantomime. In the final lesson, students prepare a pantomime story for performance.
Through this six 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 Pantomime 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 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 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
Improv is a fantastic method to engage your students; this 3 lesson mini unit is a great way to introduce improvisation.
This unit focuses on learning the rules of Improv, trying games to build improvisation skills, and developing conflict and story line.Through the three lesson series, students will use journals, participate in class discussions, learn six different improv games, and perform for their peers.
Assessment tools include both informal assessment as well as a formal quiz that’s included in the unit.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
by Amy Patel
Whether you're in a new school or have an existing program, you can use a Mission Statement to define your program, unify your students and let everyone know from administration, to parents, to the community why you do theatre, what you do and how you do it. Learn how to create this powerful and vital statement with your students. Mission Possible takes you through step by step from asking the right questions, to looking at your school culture and traditions, to writing and revising, to shouting your statement from the rooftops.
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 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!
by Karen Loftus
In this course, instructor Karen Loftus explores the responsibilities of a stage manager. You'll learn exercises that will help you demonstrate those responsibilities and the necessary skills of a stage manager to your students. You'll learn how to train your students to serve as stage managers for your school’s productions.
The course takes you through what a stage manager does prior to rehearsal and throughout the rehearsal and performance process to have a smooth-running backstage. It includes learning about the paperwork required, including prompt scripts, rehearsal preparations, notating blocking, and a stage manager’s kit and checklist to wrap it all together.
by Jennine Profeta
“Yes, and…” is the guiding principle behind all improv. This course will teach you how to teach improv, and more importantly how to give feedback to your students. The course looks at making strong offers and also using gibberish to ironically improv communication skills. You will also see how feelings can safely be used to add flavour and get laughs in our scenes.
Jennine Profeta, Second City performer and theatre educator, leads this course with a clear methodology for teaching and giving positive nurturing feedback. This course will give you all the tools and the insight you need to teach improv with confidence.
by Josh Hatt
Instructor Joshua Hatt has taught drama students all over the world. He is passionate about the power of drama to connect people and the importance of reflection and journaling to build creative, critical thinkers.
He started using Google Drive as a response to the frustration of having his students lose curriculum booklets time and time again. His work developed into a powerful online home whereby students and teachers can communicate, contribute, collaborate, edit, and house all their documents online.
In this course, Josh will show you how to use Google Drive and Slides in your drama classroom. He's included step-by-step guided instruction, as well as activities to help you solidify your knowledge. Your drama classroom will be forever transformed!
by Kerry Hishon
Instructor Kerry Hishon is an actor, director, writer, and stage combatant with years of experience in youth theatre. Her course, Theatre Etiquette 101, is designed to help students be successful in their theatrical journeys.
When teaching students who are brand new to theatre, it’s important to discuss and apply the expectations of the drama classroom and the theatrical world.
This course starts by explaining "what is theatre etiquette", and then moves through every step in the production process from audition to post-show recovery.
Every module has tips for both you and your students, classroom exercises, rehearsal exercises, and reflections. There are also printable posters included to use in your classroom or backstage.
by Karen Loftus
In The Production Classroom, instructor Karen Loftus will show you how to explore ways that you can produce shows during your regular class time. The course gives you a series of exercises and reflections that help you determine everything, from the type of show you may want to do, to the way you can divide up your class and responsibilities, to specific assignments that will keep your students engaged and focused.
The Production Classroom is the ultimate in project-based learning. Students learn to work collaboratively while setting goals and working towards a successful finished project. The course includes exercises and strategies to use with students to help assure their success in the production. Multiple examples and anecdotes help you to envision what the production classroom could look like in your room, performance space or theatre.
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 Maria Smith
In Preventing Pandemonium Part 1, Maria Smith will share with you a classroom management tool critical to success. It’s called procedures. Procedures are daily classroom management routines that are the key to classroom management success. They are the essential element of classroom management.
This course will give you straightforward, practical “this is how you do it” information, as well as procedures catered specifically to the drama classroom, to help you maintain order from start to finish, even during that chaotic group practice time.
Imagine yourself in a classroom where you can spend most of your time teaching and keep students on track without the constant lecturing. If that sounds appealing, then start the first module.
by Maria Smith
In Preventing Pandemonium Part 02, instructor Maria Smith shares a classroom management strategy that transformed her class from a discipline zone to a thriving environment. It’s called positive incentives (or rewards) that make your students want to behave and participate positively in the drama classroom.
This course includes straightforward “this is how you do it” information, as well as posters, passes and rewards for teachers to print out and use in your classroom. Learn how positive incentives cut down the need for discipline,and find the joy in teaching.
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!
by Matt Webster
Instructor Matt Webster believes that Story Theatre is one of the most creative, most imaginative, most unique forms of theatre ever to make its way to the stage. His course introduces the style of theatre called story theatre, explores the steps needed to choose the best stories to perform, explains how to adapt a story into a script, and demonstrates a variety of story theatre styles from simple and contained to complex and crazy and everything in between.
When you are finished with this course, you’ll be able to bring nearly any story to any stage and present it to any audience. That is the power and promise of story theatre. Learn how to bring the page to the stage.
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.
by Julie Hartley
Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have: scenes packed with action; opportunities to explore comedy and physical theatre; rich themes and characters to act as springboards for devised theatre; the chance to work with our language at its finest and – most importantly – ideas that relate directly to the experiences and preoccupations of students.
Yet Shakespeare isn’t easy. The language can seem dense, and finding a way in can be tough – especially for drama teachers who have not themselves studied Shakespeare. That’s the goal of this course – to help teachers find a way in.
This course presents teachers with as many ways in to the exploration of Shakespeare as possible. Action scenes, themes, characters, different theatre styles, and devised theatre projects. Students will be armed with the tools they need to begin individually exploring monologues, or working together on scenes.
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.
by Erin Carr
Viewpoints is used to create dynamic moments of theatre by simply existing on the stage. However, Viewpoints is more than just an acting technique to understand your own physicality and more than a directing technique to create “ah-ha!” moments on stage. It is first and foremost the philosophy that to create an organic performance, you must see obstacle as opportunity, and that by simply standing in space, your creativity can spark.
This course by Erin Carr will help your students discover fresh impulses that motivate their performance in the moment. We will go through the Viewpoints technique, as created by Mary Overlie, and learn how to tap into kinesthetic awareness as individuals and as an ensemble. Through this style of play, students learn to release their thoughts on what they “should” do, and instead just respond organically to their surroundings and ensemble!
We’re going to break down each of the Viewpoints, there’s lots of visual demonstration, so you can see each Viewpoint in action, and I’m going to provide tips and side coaching examples.
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.
by Claire Broome
Moral dilemmas are not only faced by characters in gripping plays, but are also faced by our students. The project outlined in this course will help students develop their critical thinking skills through the use of one of the dilemma questions to shape a student written production.
If you had the choice to press a button and earn $25,000,000... but a species (not of your choosing) would become extinct, what would you do? More importantly, what would your character do?
Join drama teacher and playwright Claire Broome through this course which includes role-playing, Stanislavski’s Magic If, character creation, playwriting and staging.