Items tagged "Theatre History"

2 Courses, 13 Units, 11 Lesson Plans, 4 Resources, and 1 PLC tagged "Theatre History" for Drama Teachers.


Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality Play

by Wendy-Marie Martin

Who says theatre history has to be boring? Hands-On Theatre History: Creating a Modern Day Morality play is an interactive course by Wendy-Marie Martin, combining hands-on activities with research and analysis techniques leading to a full performance of the popular medieval morality play, Everyman. This course gives students an overview of the medieval period and the various medieval play forms and teaches students the key points of storytelling and adaptation. It includes dynamic individual and group exercises leading students from the first steps of the adaptation process through a final, full-class performance of Everyman—and proves, once and for all, that theatre history can be fun and exciting to learn.

Hands-On Theatre History: Anti-Realism

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.


Ancient Greek 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.

Elizabethan Theatre

by Karen Loftus

How do you introduce students to Shakespeare? This unit introduces the Bard through life in Elizabethan England and the playwrights, players, and playhouses. It also explores how to approach unfamiliar words and context clues in Shakespeare’s texts.

Overview: Theatre History

by Drama Teacher Academy

There are many ways to build a curriculum for the drama classroom. One of them is to base each unit in an era of theatre history and have students apply what they learn in a theatrical manner. This theatre history curriculum starts with Ancient Egypt, Sanskrit drama, and Indigenous storytelling, then moves on to Ancient Greek theatre, and ends with 19th century Romanticism. Feel free to adapt the units in this curriculum to fit your students and your situation. Or pick and choose different units to supplement your program. The goal of this curriculum is to focus on how students learn, how they plan, and strategies for their learning, and what social and emotional skills can be applied through discussion and effective and efficient group work. Refer to the Distance Learning guide for ideas on how to adapt this curriculum to a remote teaching or hybrid environment.

Unit 1: Before and Beyond Ancient Greek Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

In the study of theatre history, when we discuss the origins of theatre, most start with the Ancient Greeks. Unit 1 of this curriculum will look at the theatre of Ancient Egypt, Sanskrit drama, and Indigenous storytelling.

Unit 2: Greek & Roman Origins

by Drama Teacher Academy

For Ancient Greece, we will examine the ritual origins of tragedy and the Festival of Dionysus. We will explore the theatre conventions of the day including the amphitheatre, the use of masks, costumes, and other theatrical devices. Finally, we will introduce the main playwrights and their key plays. Then we will take a short look at Roman theatre with their wholesale appropriation of Greek culture.

Unit 3: Medieval Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

We journey from the Dark Ages to the emergence of Medieval drama. The liturgical or religious drama appeared in the churches as a means of religious instruction. Along the way, production moved from being written in Latin to the local vernacular and then outgrew the churches. The guilds then took over the production responsibilities. The plays came in four types: mystery, miracle, morality, and mummers plays. These can be remembered as the four Ms of Medieval drama.

Unit 4: Commedia Dell'Arte

by Drama Teacher Academy

We take a side trip to Italy to discover a secular comedic form: Commedia Dell’arte. Students will be introduced to the form, explore the characters and themes, and put their knowledge to practical application by creating a commedia character.

Unit 5: Asian Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

It’s important to step outside of Western Eurocentric Theatre. In this unit, we are going to focus on the Asian theatre forms that developed in China and Japan. Note: We acknowledge that a unit on Asian theatre that only covers the theatre origins of two countries does not represent Asia. To go beyond what is offered here please see the Diversity Document.

Unit 6: Theatre of the Renaissance

by Drama Teacher Academy

In this unit, we return to Western theatre and to Italy, where we will witness the birth of the Renaissance and the discovery of linear perspective. Then we travel on to the Golden Age of Spanish theatre. We will pass by the Elizabethan Golden age (we’ll cover it in the next unit) and end the Renaissance journey by discovering French neoclassicism and the Rules of Drama.

Unit 7: The Elizabethan Golden Age

by Drama Teacher Academy

We continue our look at the Renaissance era with the Elizabethan Golden Age. This golden age of theatre started when James Burbage built the first permanent playhouse in England, called The Theatre. Of the more than 80 playwrights in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, the three most significant were Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare. This age came to an abrupt end when the Puritans executed King Charles I, abolished the crown, and closed all the theatres.

Unit 8: Restoration Comedy & 18th Century Theatre

by Drama Teacher Academy

We will travel through two time periods in this unit. First, we will explore Restoration Comedy in late 17th century England. When the Puritan-led Commonwealth failed and King Charles II was restored to the throne, theatre was also restored. The Comedy of Manners mocked the behaviour and loose morals of the upper class. The lack of theatrical works in the 18th century comes down to three things: playwrights tended to write for opera rather than theatre, censorship and control of theatrical content, and, more than anything, society of the day valued conformity over originality. In France and England, fearing attacks and mockery, the crown and the government passed laws that strictly censored theatre.

Unit 9: Romanticism

by Drama Teacher Academy

Romanticism broke away from the strictures of the neoclassical era preferring instead the Medieval/Gothic periods. The Romantic notion of finding beauty and humanity in the ugly is epitomized by Quasimodo in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The movement rejected Enlightenment, scientific rationalism, and the Industrial Revolution; rather, it embraced intuition and emotion over reason. On one hand, the tail end of neoclassicism led to the well-made play. On the other hand, the emphasis on emotion led to melodrama and an artificial declamatory acting style.

Culminating Project

by Drama Teacher Academy

The goal of this culminating assignment is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of a variety of theatre history eras; connect, compare, and contrast between the eras; and, lastly, to connect, compare, and contrast what has happened in the past to what is happening in the present.

Lesson Plans

Medieval Drama - Morality Plays

by Lindsay Price

Lessons to cover two class periods. Students learn the elements of a Medieval Morality Play and then create their own morality play with a modern context. Includes a modern version of "Everyman" and three assessment rubrics.

Medieval Drama - The Mystery Play

by Lindsay Price

Lessons cover two class periods. Students learn the elements of a Medieval Mystery Play cycle and then create their own Mystery cycle within a modern context. Includes handouts, assignment sheets, and rubrics.

Where Did Drama Begin?

by Ruth Richards

Students will explore the origins of drama through ritual and chant. After discussing modern versions, students will create a ritualistic chant using choral speaking, and synchronized movements. Lesson Plan comes with an evaluation sheet and a rubric.

The Globe Theatre

by Lindsay Price

Students will read The Globe Theatre Handout. Based on the given information, students will re-create the experience of going to The Globe and complete a compare and contrast assignment.

Emergency Lesson Plan: Elements of Greek Tragedy

by Lindsay Price

In this ELP, students will study a handout on Ancient Greek Tragedy, take a short quiz and write a reflection.

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.

The Ancient Greeks

by Lindsay Price

The Ancient Greek Theatre is the birth of the modern theatre. We can look at the production of theatre in that time and see similarities to how we present theatre today. But where do we start? And how do we make theatre history more than the collection of data? It’s hard for students to conceptualize an era that happened so long ago as populated with real people. This lesson plan encourages discussion, application, and reflection on the Ancient Greeks. Be sure to check out the Ancient Greek Theatre handout as an accompaniment to this lesson. A powerpoint link is also included that is ready to use in your classroom!

The Ancient Greeks - Handout

by Lindsay Price

This handout is designed as an accompaniment to The Ancient Greeks lesson plan. The two-page handout includes visuals and a description of who the ancient greeks were, including democracy/slavery, the role of women, war/culture, competition, and the Gods.

Who is Thespis?

by Lindsay Price

Thespis is often stated as being the first actor because he stepped away from the chorus. But who is he? What do we know as fact and what has been assumed as his origin story? What happens when unreliable evidence is recorded as historical fact? Does it matter? In this lesson, students will draw their own conclusions about the validity of Thespis as a reliable figure in theatre history. They will also write a monologue from the perspective of a character who shares their viewpoint.

Who is Thespis? Project Version

by Lindsay Price

Thespis is often stated as being the first actor because he stepped away from the chorus. But who is he? What do we know as fact and what has been assumed as his origin story? What happens when unreliable evidence is recorded as historical fact? Does it matter? In this lesson, students will research, present and draw their own conclusions about the validity of Thespis as a reliable figure in theatre history. They will then write and present a scene that showcases their viewpoint. *This lesson requires internet accessibility (for students to research for the project) either during class time or afterward as assigned homework.

19th Century Actors on Acting: Cushman, Booth, Jefferson

by Lindsay Price

This lesson plan looks at three 19th century actors: Charlotte Cushman, Edwin Booth, and Joseph Jefferson. All three were heralded as “stars” and were well known in their time. Students will learn some information about each, read letters in which they talk about acting, and reflect on what they’ve learned.


A Guide to the Elizabethan Age

A comprehensive guide to the Elizabethan Age, including historical details, the Elizabethan Theatre, and Staging the Elizabethan Play.

Directing the Absurd Play

How do you direct something with no plot, nonsense dialogue and uninformative characters? How do you approach the Absurd play? How do you help students approach the Absurd play? This guide comes complete with exercises to help with Theatre of the Absurd plays.

Elizabethan Theatre

This guide to Elizabethan Theatre includes details on the Life of a Playright in Elizabethan times, including biographies of Elizabethan playwrights (including Shakespeare). It includes exercises and activities for 4 of Shakespeare's plays.

Theatre History Choice Boards

A choice board offers students a variety of activities on a topic. With this document you can create your own board for the various units in the DTA Theatre History curriculum. Mix and match activities to fit your situation and your students!


Theatre History

Hosted by Matt Webster, Lindsay Price, Lea Marshall, Wendy-Marie Martin

Theatre History should be a part of every drama curriculum. But with all the plays and dates and people and places how do you avoid a month of textbooks, tests, and learning by rote? How do you make theatre history come alive in your classroom? Can you make it active? Can you make it fun? Join us for this discussion on bringing the past to life in the present.

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