18 use voice variety to enhance a character
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
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.
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
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 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
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 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 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).
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 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.
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.
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 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 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!
by Colin Oliver
Colin Oliver leads this introduction to teaching Musical Theatre in the Drama Classroom.
In this course, you will learn how to build musical theatre into your dramatic courses of study. “Why might you want to do that? Singing is scary! You want me to teach my students how to do it? I don’t even know how to do it.” This course approaches musical theatre preparation performance much as we would approach preparing a monologue in drama. If you use script analysis in monologue preparation in your class, you can teach musical theatre.
By the end of this course, you’ll have a great, full-body physical warm-up, a student-driven research assignment, character development exercises, a little bit of musical theory, and a performance assignment complete with assessment.
So, join us for teaching Musical Theatre in the Drama Classroom. It’s as easy as Do-Re-Mi!
by Gai Jones
Gai Jones leads this course in establishing an environment of creative experimentation in the theatre classroom, in order to have a group of student actors who value the creative process.
Each lesson shares experiences to foster creativity without the stress of performance by student actors. For the creative process which honors out-of-the-box thinking, there is no assessment section included. There is no product or performance. The important thing is the student actor’s engagement. Their reflections and your observations are valued for positive learning.
This set of lessons includes Tips for the Theatre Educator, based on Gai's own Theatre practice. Scripts are also provided and contain text of what you can say to your students to facilitate their creative processes.