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9 communicate a clear beginning, middle and end in spontaneous and planned scenes

UNIT

Stage Movement

by Karen Loftus

In this unit, students are introduced to stage directions and how actors move on stage. They will explore what’s important for onstage action, the basics of stage directions, and how to keep open. By giving students something concrete to focus on, it allows them to overcome any stage fright. Teachers can refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

This unit will culminate with students trying out what they’ve learned in a short scene. Each session comes with an journal prompt and an exit slip for assessment.

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UNIT

Pantomime

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.

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UNIT

Ancient Greek Theatre

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.

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UNIT

Improvisation

by Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn 5 specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humour.

There are so many different ways to approach a unit on improvisation. Keep in mind that you will have students who are really excited about this unit and some students who dread it. It’s best to start with low risk games and exercises and then build up to higher risk ones. Low risk games in this situation mean partnered interactions that aren’t shared with the whole class. Teachers can also refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

The unit culminates in a short improv performance. A rubric is included for the performance as long as journal prompts and exit slips.

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UNIT

Commedia Dell'Arte

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.

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UNIT

Playwriting

by Karen Loftus

Students will explore the structural elements of a play: character, objective, obstacles, tactics, resolution, and raising the stakes. They will also learn how to write character-driven dialogue and stage directions.

The unit culminates in a group written original play which is performed in front of the class. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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UNIT

Voice

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.

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UNIT

Puppetry

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.

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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

Pantomime

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.

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UNIT

Commedia dell'Arte

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th century masked acting form. It is the basis of all comedy, including all tv sitcoms. This form is characterized by masked types and archetypical characters and a specific way of playing comedy. To that end, this unit is divided into two parts.

Part One focuses on the foundations of commedia - playing comedy. These principles will be important to learn when it comes to developing commedia characters, specifically the physicality of the characters. Part Two will cover lazzi.

Note: there are links to video demos in many of the lessons of this unit.

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UNIT

Commedia dell'Arte

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th century masked acting form. It is the basis of all comedy, including all tv sitcoms. This form is characterized by masked types and archetypical characters and a specific way of playing comedy. To that end, this unit is divided into two parts.

Part One focuses on the foundations of commedia - playing comedy. These principles will be important to learn when it comes to developing commedia characters, specifically the physicality of the characters. Part Two will cover lazzi.

Note: there are links to video demos in many of the lessons of this unit.

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UNIT

Improvisation in Musical Theatre

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.

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UNIT

Unit Two: Improvisation Basics

by Lindsay Johnson

In this unit, students will learn, practice and apply three important rules of improv: accepting and building on offers, quick thinking, and strong offers. For each step, they will work with the Improvisation Rubric by both giving and receiving feedback. Students will also start to practice techniques to improve their vocal clarity. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students will play an improv game in front of an audience.

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UNIT

Unit Three: Building Improvised Scenes

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will understand the basic building blocks of a scene: The Who (characters/ relationship), the Where (setting), and the What (conflict – objectives/tactics). They will learn how to use both verbal and nonverbal (pantomime) clues to communicate these scene details to an audience. They will continue to work on voice clarity, while also learning to open their body to an audience. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students work in pairs to improvise a scene.

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UNIT

Unit Eight: Theatre of the Oppressed

by Lindsay Johnson

Students will have a chance to merge their understanding of scene elements with their improvisation skills in this final unit based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre of the Oppressed is a style of theatre specifically created to highlight the injustices of power and oppression in society and to problem-solve ways to bring about change.

Starting with image theatre techniques to identify issues of power and oppression, students will then use forum theatre to create scenarios of oppression taken from their own lives and improvise realistic solutions.

The unit culminates in a performance in which students participate as both actors in a scene they create themselves and spect-actors in scenes created by their peers.

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UNIT

Introduction to Musical Theatre: Movement

by Annie Dragoo

Musical theatre performers use their bodies to sing, to dance, and to act. We must think of our bodies as instruments and learn to use our instruments properly in order to be better musical theatre performers.

The overall objective with this unit, by Annie Dragoo, is for students to demonstrate an understanding of the use of good movement as it connects to musical theatre. Some of the activities include using action verbs, moving as animals and inanimate characters, nonverbal communication and situational movement. Students will then perform a scene that will allow them to put to practice all the movement techniques they have learned.

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UNIT

Improvisation

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

Students sharpen their listening and reaction skills through improv games, exercises, and scenes. They will learn five specific guidelines to apply to their improvisation: accept the offer, bring information to the scene, make active choices, make your partner look good, and don’t force the humor.

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UNIT

Pantomime

by Lindsay Price and Karen Loftus

In this unit, students will explore nonverbal communication. First through body language and gesture, and then through the specific art of pantomime. Students will learn hand position, tension, follow-through, and action/reaction/interaction with objects through warm-up games and exercises. The unit culminates in a one-person pantomime performance.

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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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PD COURSE

Yes, And... How to Teach Improv

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.

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PD COURSE

Commedia I: Playing Comedy

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th Century masked acting form. It’s the basis of all comedy and it’s a form that many teachers want to include in their curriculum.

Instructor Todd Espeland has designed two courses that work hand-in-hand with teaching this fantastic physical form.

In Commedia I: Playing Comedy - Todd teaches the principles of comedy through four key elements: status, appetite, swing, and intention/invention. This course provides an excellent foundation upon which to explore Commedia to its fullest. Includes bonus videos, handouts, reflections, and exit slip question ideas for each lesson.

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PD COURSE

Commedia II: Style

by Todd Espeland

Commedia dell’arte is a 16th Century masked acting form. It’s the basis of all comedy and it’s a form that many teachers want to include in their curriculum.

Instructor Todd Espeland has designed two courses that work hand-in-hand with teaching this fantastic physical form.

In Commedia II: Style - Todd moves on to the specific style of Commedia dell’arte. This includes a history of commedia, the stock characters and how to physicalize them, sample lazzi and a capstone assignment. The course includes video demonstrations so you can see the exercises and activities in action.

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PD COURSE

Coaching Improv

by Jennine Profeta

Second City performer and theatre educator Jennine Profeta is back and ready to help you take your Improv classes to the next level. It’s all getting students to perform - and how to be a great improv coach who can keep them supported and grounded (and having fun!)

In this course, you’ll learn the golden rules of improv. You’ll learn a bunch of improv games (great for warm-ups, teaching tools, and even for competitions). You’ll learn Jennine’s tips and tricks for what to look for when coaching and how to troubleshoot common issues.

The course is designed to help you improv as an ensemble and give you the know-how to coach with confidence whether it’s in the classroom or on the stage!

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PD COURSE

21st Century Skills Through Devising

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!

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PD COURSE

Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom

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.

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PD COURSE

The Dilemma Project

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.

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