C.2.B imagine and clearly describe characters, their relationships, and their surroundings.
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 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.
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 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 Matt Webster
In the Monologue Unit, students will learn the building blocks of monologues while writing a simple monologue. This unit is divided into two parts.
In part one, the Monologue Writing Made Easy unit by Matt Banaszynski is reviewed or executed in full, depending on class needs.
In part two, students will dissect monologues as a vehicle for character and performance and will write more refined monologues based on existing fictional characters from fairytales or myths. Students will then rehearse and perform their monologues, as a final project for the unit.
by Matt Webster
In this unit, students are introduced to a series of lesson plans that explore non-traditional approaches to performing the works of William Shakespeare. By the end of the unit students will be exposed to a unique set of tools they can utilize as the foundations for analyzing, staging and performing a scene from Shakespeare’s canon. Students will then rehearse and perform a two-person Shakespearean scene.
by Corinna Rezzelle
What is devising? It’s a process of playwriting as a group. Plays are created through improvisation, process dramas, and a lot of teamwork. The Devising Unit includes an overview to get you started, and 12 lessons jam-packed with activities.
This unit includes doing some basic Forum Theatre, which is a technique coined by Augusto Boal. It covers Process Drama in a variety of ways such as Hot Seating, Role on the Wall, and a fun exercise called “Character Bag”. There are also some great bonding games for your students to enjoy.
This unit is designed to show students (and teachers) that playwriting doesn’t have to be a solitary, lonely exercise. It can be a fun, sometimes chaotic, and very energetic experience.
by Rachel Atkins
In this middle school unit by Rachel Atkins, students will explore how to strengthen a theatrical argument through objectives, communication, and conflict: What characters do, what they say, and how they say it when they make an argument or try to achieve an objective. To do this, students will use tableaux, dialogue, and improv. There are presentations and post-lesson writing assignments that you can use for assessment.
How do characters, actors and writers use a variety of actions to achieve an objective or support an argument? How do they enhance their communication by word choice and emotion? How do they develop and strengthen their own arguments by understanding other points of view?
by John Minigan
The objective of this unit by John Minigan is to move students from a traditional presentational model of performance to a three-dimensional model. You’re going to achieve this by having students
- Develop tactics to achieve character goals, despite obstacles
- Connect physical choices to scene structure and relationships
- Clarify tactics and story rather than forcing emotion
- And focus on the scene partner rather than the self
This unit was created to use with grade nine students as a transition from middle school to high school acting approaches. It would also be appropriate for a beginning-of-the-year unit for a program that includes Drama 1. But any class that is at the beginning of their acting process will find value.
Each lesson comes with an engagement Rubric to assess how students participated in the activities and discussions.
by Holly Beardsley, Karen Loftus, and Josh Hatt
Students are exposed to research, concepts, and skill sets while they explore costume design and the different roles of the costume designer and the costumer. They will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of costume effectiveness.
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 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 Lindsay Price and Kerry Hishon
This unit focuses on character creation: How do you create a character from the ground up? Use this unit as a precursor to a playwriting unit, to a devising unit, or to a class production.
Using the archetypes of the superhero, the sidekick, and the supervillain, students work on exercises to help them create unique characters through physical and vocal qualities, character profiles, and theatrical writing.
Because many of the exercises have an individual focus, this unit works in a distance learning environment or for your no-technology students.
by Annie Dragoo
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the foundations of acting. At the end of the unit, students will be able to understand the value of making rich acting choices on stage.
This unit gives students an opportunity to explore and develop acting skills on a more advanced level, regardless of experience. They will explore skills, including voice, movement, emotional recall, memory, playing objectives, and character development culminating in a final scene.
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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