TH.912.H.2.1 Research the correlations between theatrical forms and the social, cultural, historical, and political climates from which they emerged, to form an understanding of the influences that have shaped theatre.
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 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 Holly Beardsley
A costume designer and a costumer are two different things. A costume designer creates pieces from the drawing board to the stage, while a costumer pulls from already existing pieces to create fully realized characters. This means that the approach is different.
In this six lesson unit students will learn the tools of a successful costumer. They will start by reflecting on their own personal style and the choices that go into that style. They’ll move on to look at versatility and adapting costume staples, creating a costuming vision, period clothing as the costumer, how to use the colour wheel as a costuming tool and everything culminates in a final project (two options).
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 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.
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 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 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 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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