Courses

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

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

Close Reading in the Drama Classroom

by Lindsay Price

Close reading is an activity that puts curriculum standards into practice and it can be easily applied to the drama classroom.

Close reading asks a lot of your students. They have to read and think at the same time.

This course teaches drama teachers how the close reading process works, and gives them exercises and tools to apply it in the classroom.

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Units

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

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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Lesson Plans

LESSON PLAN

Show and Tell Switch

by Anna Porter

Students apply the questions used in a Character Analysis Worksheet to create a character background for themselves.
Students use this to help them understand the importance of details and commitment to character choices by creating a believable Show and Tell presentation with an unknown object.

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LESSON PLAN

Reflection in Role: Character Development Through Script Analysis

by Lindsay Price

Playwrights leave hints and tips in the text as signposts for character building. But how do you find those hints? How do you use them to develop a character?

In this lesson plan, students will examine scenes from my plays, identify character development clues, and apply those clues. The included teaching script will show you those character clues so you know what students are looking for. The Scenes are included in the plan as well as a reflection rubric.

The analysis areas are: facts and concrete assumptions, sentence structure, and strong forms need strong characters.

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LESSON PLAN

Tactic Fairies

by Anna Porter

Students will understand how tactics are active and how to use them to achieve their character’s objective.

Students consider the tactics they use to get what they want in their everyday lives and then demonstrate how to use various tactics for an assigned objective by playing “Tactic Fairies.” Two students act out a scene, while their "fairies" make them change their tactic 4 or 5 times to get what they want. This instills that a character can't just repeat the same tactic over and over again, or try one tactic and stop. The consequence of certain tactics is also introduced.

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LESSON PLAN

Stage Management: Know the Details

by Anna Porter

Students will learn the details a stage manager must be aware of as well as how to communicate those details in a clear and productive way.

Students analyze a work of art to find the visual details required for that “production” and create an organized list to communicate those details. Students then apply those skills to a written script as the stage manager.

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LESSON PLAN

Images on Stage: War Posters

by Lindsay Price

Students will discuss and analyze War Posters. What are the images? What is being said with those images? Describe the colours and shapes. Students will discuss how a director can use images as a jumping off point for staging.

Includes five posters, assessment rubric, and analysis sheet.

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LESSON PLAN

Objectives

by Elisabeth Oppelt

A character’s objective is what a character wants. It is based in what they want from another person, using the formula “I want [person] to do [thing I want them to do.]” The objective is what drives all of their action while on stage. In this lesson students will learn what objectives are and how to write one for a character.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to Close Reading

by Lindsay Price

Students will work on their critical thinking skills through close reading. Teachers will first model the technique with a sentence, students will practice the technique in groups and then apply their knowledge with a close reading of a monologue. This lesson comes with an individual assignment and close reading handout.

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LESSON PLAN

Themes in the Crucible: A Good Reputation

by Lindsay Price

Students will discuss the theme of a reputation in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Students will participate in activities, scene work and written reflection on the theme. It is assumed that students are in the middle of reading the play or at least have been introduced to the story.

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LESSON PLAN

Introduction to The Bald Soprano: Cliché and Stereotype Exercise

by Lindsay Price

Students will compile modern-day clichés and stereotyped phrases and use these words/phrases to create a scene. The point of the exercise is to take something unfamiliar like the Theatre of the Absurd and identify a point of connection. A technique that we know well (the use of cliche and stereotype) is something Theatre of the Absurd Playwrights also know well. Use this exercise as a precursor to studying The Bald Soprano. You’ll need a scene from The Bald Soprano for the end of this lesson.

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LESSON PLAN

Themes in The Glass Menagerie: Traps vs Escapes

by Lindsay Price

Students will discuss and apply dramatically the theme of Traps vs Escapes in Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie. It is assumed that students have started reading The Glass Menagerie or know the story. Use this lesson as a supplemental to your study of the play.

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LESSON PLAN

Compare and Contrast: Adaptation

by Lindsay Price

Students will compare and contrast a scene from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Lindsay Price’s adaptation Humbug High.

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LESSON PLAN

Compare and Contrast: Theatre spaces

by Lindsay Price

Theatre spaces have changed throughout history, from the outdoor amphitheatres of Ancient Greece to the black box of modern times. In this lesson plan, students will identify what makes a theatre space in a specific era and then compare and contrast two different theatre spaces.

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LESSON PLAN

Research Project: Acting Teachers

by Todd Espeland

Instead of presenting a lecture on influential acting teachers, students self-learn in this lesson plan. Have students research an acting teacher, prepare a presentation and teach an exercise in groups.

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LESSON PLAN

Audience Etiquette

by Lindsay Price

In a drama class there is often a focus on onstage activities: performance skills, staging a scene, ensemble building. But the audience plays a vital and necessary role in the process. Theatre does not happen without an audience. It’s important for students to be aware of and apply audience etiquette.

In this lesson, students will explore the different ways an audience behaves depending on the event, what is bad audience behaviour, establish the rules, practice critical thinking as an audience member and complete an exit slip to demonstrate comprehension.

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LESSON PLAN

Writing a Reflective Review

by Lindsay Price

Writing a play review is an excellent way for students to apply critical thinking skills. A review is a subjective but educated response to a play. The reviewer gives an opinion and supports it with thoughtful analysis. What are the parts of a well
written review? What should a student do before, during, and after a performance?

The culminating exercise involves students writing a review of a show. Use this lesson as a precursor to students seeing a performance (i.e. a school production, a community play, or a touring show).

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LESSON PLAN

Writing a Review: Introduction

by Lindsay Price

A review is a subjective but educated response. The reviewer gives an opinion, then supports it with thoughtful analysis.

Students will examine existing reviews, identify the elements of a review, compare and contrast reviews, and practice supporting their opinions (i.e. not just “I like this” or “I don’t like that,” but explain the “why” behind their response).

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LESSON PLAN

What is a Monologue: Analysis

by Lindsay Price

Students will identify the elements that make a good monologue. Have student groups read aloud existing monologues and then discuss, answer questions, and evaluate the elements of the monologues. Do these existing monologues meet the criteria of a good monologue?

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LESSON PLAN

Getting to Know a Character

by Karen Loftus

Students learn the 5 ways we learn about a character in a script.

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LESSON PLAN

Characters in a Scene

by Karen Loftus

This session uses a two-character scene to find facts and inferences about a character.

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LESSON PLAN

The Stanislavski Method

by Karen Loftus

This session introduces the Stanislavski method of acting and four elements: objective, obstacle, stakes, and tactics.

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LESSON PLAN

Applying Analysis to Performance

by Karen Loftus

This session reviews what students have learned about script analysis, and applies it to an open scene exercise.

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LESSON PLAN

Unit Project

by Karen Loftus

Students are given an assigned scene to analyze, focus on one character, and complete the script analysis assignment.

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LESSON PLAN

Emergency Lesson Plan: Compare and Contrast (Shakespeare)

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students will read and discuss a scene from the Shakespeare Play Much Ado About Nothing and a modern adaptation of that text - Much Ado High School by Lindsay Price.

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LESSON PLAN

A Podcast Musical Analysis

by Annie Dragoo

Students will listen to and analyze a podcast musical called 36 Questions by Christopher Littler and Ellen Winter, starring Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton. This lesson is intended for senior grades only (11 & 12). Please see content warning in the lesson plan (p.1).

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LESSON PLAN

Close Reading: 21st Century Issue Play

by Lindsay Price

Close reading is a text-dependent analysis tool that allows students to read a text for in-depth comprehension. Students focus on the text to understand what’s being said, how it’s being said, and why. In this lesson, students will close read a teen issue play: Censorbleep by Lindsay Price. Reading something that was written specifically for them may help students connect to the analysis process.

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LESSON PLAN

Compare and Contrast: "To Be or Not To Be" on Film

by Lindsay Price

In this lesson plan, students will compare four different film versions of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark using the same scene: Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech. How do the four versions tackle the same text? Film is a visual medium – what visuals do they use to tell the story? Do they cut or adapt any of the text? Students will discuss their findings and write a Reflection.

A slide deck is provided as part of the materials for this lesson.

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LESSON PLAN

Emergency Lesson Plan: Prose vs Drama

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students will read two ghost story texts: a prose version and a theatrical adaptation of the same story. Students will then compare and contrast the two texts: How does each handle the ghost story genre? How does each create mood and atmosphere for the genre? What are the similarities in the texts? What are the differences? In your opinion, which suits the genre better?

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LESSON PLAN

Analyzing a Play Through Socratic Seminar

by Annie Dragoo

In this two-part lesson, students will analyze a script using a specific method and practical critical thinking skills.

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LESSON PLAN

The History of Blackface in Theatre

by Quincy Young

Students will read an article about the history of blackface in American Theatre and use critical thinking skills to annotate the article. Students will then produce a written reflection on why the use of blackface was and continues to be a problematic issue in American Theatre.

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Resources

RESOURCE

Close Reading Pre-Study Exercise

Use this close reading pre-study exercise for in-depth comprehension.

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RESOURCE

Bloom's Taxonomy Action Words

Use this list to inspire your students to use higher order vs. lower order thinking words.

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RESOURCE

Character Maps

Use these character maps to help students delve deeper into character analysis.

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RESOURCE

What are the Structural Elements of a Script

This handout names and describes the structural elements of a script: character, objective, obstacle, tactics, and resolution.

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RESOURCE

Compare and Contrast (Shakepeare)

In this Compare and Contrast Exercise students will read a scene in its original form, read an modern adaptation, and then compare and contrast the two. What are the similarities and differences?

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RESOURCE

Compare and Contrast: The Tell-Tale Heart

In this compare and contrast exercise students will read a text in its original form, read a theatrical adaptation of the same text, and then compare and
contrast the two. What are the similarities and differences?

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