Courses

PD COURSE

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.

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PD COURSE

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.

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Units

UNIT

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.

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UNIT

Elizabethan Theatre

by Karen Loftus

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

As with any theatre history unit, you have to decide what’s most important to introduce to the students. For this unit, we’ll focus on three things in the three different categories. Please refer to the Pacing Guide for more details and ways to supplement with other DTA materials.

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Lesson Plans

LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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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

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!

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

The Ancient Greek People

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?

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LESSON PLAN

Storytelling in Ancient Greece

by Lindsay Price

Greek Theatre is the ancestor of the Modern Theatre. It is the birth of the actor stepping away from a chorus of unison speakers. The building of theatres. 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 just the collection of data?
In this lesson plan, students will explore the connection between the way they tell stories in the 21st century and the way that the Ancient Greeks told stories. Students will also explore Ancient Greek vases and Homer’s The Iliad.

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LESSON PLAN

The Festival of Dionysus

by Lindsay Price

In this lesson, students trace the journey from ancient storytelling to modern day theatre thousands of years later. One of the main reason theatre evolved like it did was because of performance opportunities during City Dionysus festivals in tribute to Dionysus. The performance framework moved from one person telling a story to a group, to a choral group performing, to one person stepping out in front of the chorus as an actor and so on. It’s interesting for students to see that the more you perform a form, the more that form evolves.

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LESSON PLAN

Does the “Where” Affect Performance?

by Lindsay Price

The Greek Theatre is the ancestor of the modern theatre. It is the birth of the actor stepping away from a chorus of unison speakers, as well as the catalyst that triggered the practice of building theatres. 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?
In this lesson plan, students will explore the connection between the past and present by asking the question, “Does the “where” affect performance?” Students will compare and contrast the modern stage with the Ancient Greek Amphitheatre.

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LESSON PLAN

Tragedy, Satyr, and Comedy

by Lindsay Price

The Greek Theatre is the birth of the modern theatre. It is the birth of the actor stepping away from a chorus of unison speakers, as well as the catalyst that triggered the building of theatres. 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?
In this lesson plan, students will explore the connection between “what” of Ancient Greek Theatre: tragedy, satyr, and comedy.

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LESSON PLAN

Ancient Greek Theatre: Presentation Project

by Lindsay Price

This is the project section of the Ancient Greek Theatre unit. Divide students into groups, then give them an information sheet on their subject. Their job is to present the information in a theatrical manner to the class, create an activity that the class can do as a whole, and write a reflection/exit slip for the class to complete.
Within this unit students are given three to four class periods to work on their presentations. Instruct each group to divide up tasks evenly within their group, so that they can meet the deadline. You can certainly give them more time, or establish that students must spend time working on the project outside of class. Depending on the size of your class, it may take one or two classes to complete the presentations.

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LESSON PLAN

Presentation & Reflection

by Lindsay Price

In this lesson, students present their topics, lead the class through an activity, and provide a reflection. They also self-evaluate the process.

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LESSON PLAN

What Else Can You Do with Ancient Greek Theatre?

by Lindsay Price

Ten ideas for further class work and activities for Ancient Greek Theatre.

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LESSON PLAN

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.

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LESSON PLAN

Playwrights & Players

by Karen Loftus

This session introduces students to the Elizabethan Era, and its’ key playwrights and players.

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LESSON PLAN

Strange Language

by Karen Loftus

Students learn how to use context clues to approach the unfamiliar words they will find in Shakepeare’s language.

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LESSON PLAN

Context Clues

by Karen Loftus

Students review context clues and apply it to the Prologue from Romeo and Juliet.

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LESSON PLAN

Playhouses

by Karen Loftus

Students are introduced to three of the most important playhouses in the Elizabethan Era, as well as the areas of the Globe Theatre.

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LESSON PLAN

Crime Scene Clues

by Karen Loftus

Students apply their knowledge of context clues to find meaning in the Tomb Scene from Romeo and Juliet.

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LESSON PLAN

Expanding the Unit

by Karen Loftus

Three suggestions for adding on to this unit are included, as well as a unit reflection for your students.

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Resources

RESOURCE

A Guide to the Elizabethan Age

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

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RESOURCE

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.

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RESOURCE

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.

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PLCs

PLC

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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