Create dramatic works with an intended audience in mind
by Marsha Walner
We spend a lot of time in the classroom exploring, applying, and creating in a western theatrical tradition. But there are many more styles that students can explore, particularly to the east: Kabuki, Noh, Chinese Opera, and Sanskrit Theatre, for example. In this unit, students will be introduced to an element from each of these eastern styles, they will apply that element and build towards a culminating project. Throughout, students will develop a stronger understanding of both the theatre from their own culture and that of Eastern cultures.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Lindsay Price
This unit focuses on the idea stage of playwriting. Before you start a playwriting project, take students through these lessons to provide students a step-by-step process for idea generation. When students are told they’re going to write a play, they often freeze. I can’t do it. I’m not creative; my ideas are stupid. The purpose of this unit is to give students a place to start and a way to move from finding a topic to creating an idea to writing theatrically on ideas.
This unit is designed to reach as many classroom environments as possible and includes: standard in-class lessons, instruction videos, instruction handouts, and quizzes.
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.
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 Matt Webster
In the Monologue Unit, students will learn the building blocks of monologues while writing a simple monologue. This unit is divided into two parts.
In part one, the Monologue Writing Made Easy unit by Matt Banaszynski is reviewed or executed in full, depending on class needs.
In part two, students will dissect monologues as a vehicle for character and performance and will write more refined monologues based on existing fictional characters from fairytales or myths. Students will then rehearse and perform their monologues, as a final project for the unit.
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 Lindsay Price
The Top Ten Playwriting Exercises Course not only gives you ten great exercises to ease your students into the playwriting waters, it's also going to give you the confidence to teach playwriting to your students.
Each exercise comes with instruction, why the exercise is important, how to assess the exercise and something specific for you to try.
Many of the modules include assignments and rubrics so you will be fully prepared to comprehend, apply and teach every these exercises.
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 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 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 Steven Stack
Have you ever wondered how in the world you can have a successful theatre classroom with so many variables that you have absolutely no control over? The two biggest ones being the size of your class and the students that you’re in charge of turning into some truly talented theatre geeks. This course by Steven Stack explores that wonderful and often ridiculous world of theatre classrooms while giving you the tools for you and your students to not only succeed but to flourish as well.
Lessons will include how to make any size class the Goldilocks class as in "just right", defining and working with all types of students you may encounter in your classroom, the seven must-haves of any theatre class, and the importance of structure in the theatre classroom by providing a guideline for setting up your day-to-day class time.
The course also provides tons of ideas, games and activities that you can use instantly in your classroom. So, if you’re a first-time theatre teacher or one just looking for new ideas, this is the course for you.
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 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.
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 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 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.