Examine the influences of social, cultural, historical, environmental, and personal context on drama
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 Lea Marshall
The purpose of this unit is to give students an introduction to independent learning as well as an overview of Ancient Greek theatre. Students will apply their knowledge throughout, and the unit culminates in a group activity.
This unit is delivered in hyperdoc format. What does that mean? A hyperdoc is an interactive tool that encourages digital learning. In this case, students are given a document on a subject, and there they can read articles, watch videos, do some independent research, and apply what they’ve learned. Because they’re working on their own, students are in charge of their own pacing.
Before you start the unit, ensure you read the Teacher Guide first. It will give you clear instructions on how to distribute the hyperdoc format and make it easy for you and your students.
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.
by Lindsay Price
In the 21st century, we are living in a time of great change for criticism and the role of the critic. Previously, one negative review from the New York Times could close a Broadway show. Now the audience as critic is a topic of much debate. Are professional critics and informed opinions necessary? What is the power of the audience critic? What is the role of the critic and the role of criticism in today’s theatre?
This unit will take students through a brief history of the theatre critic from the 500 reviews that came out of Ibsen’s one-night performance of Ghosts in 1891, to the tumultuous landscape of social media criticism. Students will then apply what they’ve learned by writing on or theatricalizing the role of the critic in a culminating assignment.
by Annie Dragoo
Musical Theatre is a uniquely American art form, explored through this unique unit by instructor Annie Dragoo.
It is divided into two parts: first, students view a documentary called Broadway the American Musical - available on YouTube. Students will reflect after each episode and there is an available viewing quiz.
After viewing, discussing and reflecting on each episode of the PBS Documentary, Broadway: The American Musical, students will research a specific topic in order to create and design a musical theatre museum exhibit. It’s a great three-dimensional demonstration of knowledge, and there is a rubric provided for the completed exhibit.
This is not your traditional textbook history learning!
by Lindsay Price
Lindsay Price has developed this Introduction to Film Analysis Unit: Mise en scène. In order to develop visual literacy, students have to be able to analyze what they see. In a film, the composition of everything you see on screen is called mise-en-scène. In this unit, students will explore the individual elements that make up mise-en-scène, be able to identify those elements in stills and film scenes, and apply their knowledge in a culminating analysis activity.
Heads up. You’re going to need some technology for this unit. Students need to be able to view, either as a class or 1:1 images, a google slide deck and selected film scenes.
by Anna Porter
In this unit, students will explore and collaboratively take on the role of costume designers. Students will explore the elements of design, director’s concept, and the considerations for costume design. They will then apply this knowledge in a culminating project.
This unit has been designed to integrate technology into the curriculum. Students will utilize technology throughout via HyperDocs, internet research, and Google tools such as Google Drive, Google Forms, Google Slides, and Google Docs. A digital Learning Tools Introduction resource is provided for additional help in using the different tools and applications.
by Angel Borths
Help…It’s all Greek to me! Join Angel Borths in this unit that uses a modern adaptation of the Ancient Greek play Antigone to introduce Middle School students to Ancient Greek Theatre.
Have your students read Percy Jackson and want to find out more about Ancient Greece? Then, this unit is for you. This unit is designed for middle and high school students and will take you through the basics of classical Greek theatre and pairs it with a modern adaptation of the story of Antigone called Agatha Rex by Lindsay Price. Students will learn vocabulary, design, and basic theory surrounding classical Greek theatre. Students will also enjoy the mask building component of this unit, as they learn to disappear into the character of a mask, like the first actors did on a Greek stage thousands of years ago.
The unit culminates in a scene performance with masks.
by Lindsay Price
In studying Ancient Greece, we’re looking at the foundations of theatre as we know it today. Without the Ancient Greek Era, we do not get actors, theatres, plays, and the definitions of tragedy and comedy.
The issue with studying theatre history, or anything historical is that it can become an exercise in memorizing dates and reciting facts. When the truth of the matter is no one in the 21st century benefits from learning by rote. This is especially true when studying history in the framework of a drama classroom. We need exercises that bring history to life, instead of having students plot dates on a timeline.
To that end, this unit does not focus on dates and data. The essential question for the unit is how can we connect the past to the present and this question is explored through the theatricalization of information. Students will access all four 21st century skills, critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication as they explore this amazing world.
Reflections, exit slips, and rubrics are included throughout the unit as well as a mid assignment evaluation for the culminating project.
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
This unit will enable students to identify, compare, and contrast three different styles of Japanese Theatre: Noh, Bunraku, and Kabuki. There are three proposed projects in this unit: a research assignment where groups delve into further detail about one of the three styles; a performance project where students utilize what they’ve learned by enacting a scene from a Kyogen (comedic) play; and a Bunraku puppet play.
The unit comes with a Google Slide Deck to help students visualize the information. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.
by Karen Loftus
Now it’s time for your students to take everything they’ve learned and creatively apply those skills. The goal is for students to take what they’ve been exposed to, explored, and researched about each of the arts and crafts of technical theatre and apply it to a project.
by Wendy-Marie Martin
This unit gives students an overview of the anti-realism movement of the late 19th century and early 20th century and introduces them to some key theorists, playwrights, and theatre makers involved in this movement. Students will be introduced to the “isms” of symbolism, Dadaism, surrealism, expressionism, and absurdism along with various manifestos and theories as we track the characteristics of each “ism.”
In a culminating project, students will design an “ISMS’’ Theme Park, which they will share with the class at the end of the unit. Their project will feature each of the five “isms” in the form of rides, themed concessions areas, entertainment options, and in-park characters.
by Lindsay Price
Perspective taking is the ability to understand a situation from another person’s perspective or point of view: What are they thinking? What are they feeling? How does their background influence their perspective? Perspective taking allows students to develop self-awareness, to recognize differences, to understand an opposing point of view, to assess nonverbal language, and more.
In this unit, students will practice perspective taking as they:
• Assess their own perspective.
• Demonstrate understanding of the perspective of others in specific situations.
• Analyze characters in a text.
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 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 Holly Beardsley
Do you know the difference between a bustle and a buckram frame? Or what works best as an emergency hem? Some directors are blessed with a big budget and a full support staff—a choreographer, a set designer, and a costumer. But the drama teacher often becomes director, choreographer, set designer, and costumer all in one.
And a budget? What’s a budget? The Do-It-All Director’s Introduction to Costuming will give you, the director, who must do it all, the confidence and skills to costume and direct, no matter your experience or budget. This course will teach you costuming basics, budget tricks, organization, and most importantly, the art of costuming as a director.
by Todd Espeland
Todd Espeland has the experience to know that having more tools in your toolbox makes you a better actor. This is especially important when teaching students how to approach Shakespeare. They need help breaking through the language barrier and into the character’s needs and into the character’s thoughts.
The tools that you’ll receive in this course will do just that. The course looks at scansion as a tool for breaking down Shakespeare’s verse, the importance of end of lines, and caesura. Caesura is an inner-line pause which is a lot of fun to play with and really, helps us provide insight to the character’s thoughts and into their needs.
The course provides numerous examples and handouts, and culminates in a performance assignment to use with your students.
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 Wendy-Marie Martin
This course is a mix of individual and group activities requiring students to use both their analytical and creative mind. It gives students an overview on the Anti-Realism movement of the late-19th and early-20th century, and introduces them to some key theorists, playwrights, and theater makers involved in this movement.
Together we will guide students through the wild world of the “isms,” more specifically Symbolism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Expressionism and Absurdism. We will introduce students to various manifestos and theories as we track the characteristics of each of our five “isms.” As we combine analysis and creative exercises, students bring their entire self to process and prepare to design an ISM Theme Park project, which they will share with the class at the end of the course.
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