View all Standards for North Carolina Essential Standards

P.A.1.1 Analyze full-length plays in terms of plot structure, pacing, given circumstances, and character development.

UNIT

Script Analysis: The Actor's Perspective

by Karen Loftus

How does an actor analyze a script? Students start with character analysis (how do we learn about a character in a script? what are the facts/inferences about a character?) and then explore the ideas of “objective,” “obstacle,” “stakes,” and “tactics.”

The unit culminates with students applying learned script analysis techniques on an assigned scene. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

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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UNIT

Agatha Rex and Ancient Greek Theatre

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.

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UNIT

Tools of Scene Work

by Anna Porter

Students are introduced to scene work performance through a simple, contentless scene unit. In this unit, performers will use exercises like “Show and Tell” to learn how to fill in the gaps of a story by creating scenarios and detailed characters with backgrounds.

Students will further fill in the gaps by exploring environmental and physical conflict as well as stage business. The lesson “Thou Shalts of Staging” will guide students through basic staging and performance technique.

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UNIT

Playwriting Unit: 10 to 15 Minute Play

by Lindsay Price

This playwriting unit offers lessons for students to complete a 10- to 15-minute play, instructed by professional playwright Lindsay Price.

The unit includes class writing time as well as students writing on their own; in setting it up this way, the unit can be interspersed between other lessons.

Students are challenged to apply themselves to write on their own - as all writers must do. Class time also focuses on giving and receiving feedback.

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UNIT

Playwriting Unit: Beginner

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.

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UNIT

The Working Playwright *Hyperdoc

by Lindsay Price

In this unit, students will gain insight into the day to day responsibilities of a working artist. This unit aims to illuminate for students that creative expression is only one element in a sustainable arts career, and attempt to address the essential question: How does a playwright turn creative expression into a career? The culminating project for the unit is a playwright submissions packet for a theatre company.

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.

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UNIT

Unit Seven: Directed Scenes Take 2: A Variety of Scenes

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will have another opportunity to participate in student-directed scenes, only this time each director will be assigned a different script, and actors for each group will be chosen by the teacher based on individual strengths and challenges, rather than holding auditions.

Actors will take a deeper dive into character physicality and use of levels in staging this unit. Directors will continue to create a set design and block the scenes, adding props as well in this unit.

The unit culminates in actors presenting their directed scenes to the class.

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UNIT

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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UNIT

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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UNIT

Playwriting: Part 1

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.

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UNIT

Playwriting: Part 2

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 2.

You can continue the playwriting process from Part 1 by having students apply what they’ve learned through writing a five- to 10-page play. Or, if your students are familiar with the playwriting elements, perhaps they just do Part 2 of this unit. Students will write a first draft, revise, give and receive feedback, and read their work aloud. The unit assumes that either students have completed Part 1 or they already have a grounding in the playwriting form.

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UNIT

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

Scene Work: Part 2, Student Self Staging

by Lindsay Price

In Part 2 of Scene Work, students take everything they learned in Part 1 and apply it to the staging of a scene.
Students work independently to block, build character, experiment and rehearse a scene. You can continue the scene work process from Part 1, or if your students have a grounding with scene work basics, perhaps they just do Part 2 of this unit.

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UNIT

Playwriting Kickstart: Multi platform

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.

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PD COURSE

From Audition to Curtain Call: Directing Youth Theatre

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.

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PD COURSE

Friendly Shakespeare

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.

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PD COURSE

The Top Ten Playwriting Exercises

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.

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PD COURSE

Strong Ensemble = Strong Play

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.

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PD COURSE

Big Picture Blocking: Staging Your Play Outside-In

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.

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PD COURSE

Working With Monologues For Rehearsal And Development

by Gai Jones

In "Working With Monologues For Rehearsal And Development" you will develop ten sessions of study on monologues. The study contains the definition and history of the monologue; monologue vocabulary; analysis of a practice monologue, staging a short monologue; working with musical theatre lyrics as a monologue; writing short autobiographical monologues.

At the end of this course, you will have a curriculum which can be used as introduction to monologue work. You'll outline a curriculum for your classroom and tie the learning benchmarks to the new National Theatre V&PA standards, as well as to Ontario and BC curriculum expectations.

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PD COURSE

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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PD COURSE

Director's Toolbox 2: Teaching Students to Direct

by James Van Leishout

Director’s Toolbox 2: Teaching Students to Direct, explores the tools of the actor, rehearsal, space, and design.
The tool of the actor will focus on creating a safe place to play, auditions, and how to communicate with actors.
Rehearsals will look at the whole process from the first meeting to opening night.
The tool of space will explore how to direct in different spaces and how to create focus through stage composition.
Discover how an understanding of the elements of design help student-directors communicate with designers. The final step is a return to self and the mastery of self evaluation.

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