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.

Unit Overview

The overview includes information the unit, a list of the 7 lesson plans, materials needed and bonus material included, objectives, and assessment tools.

1: The Ancient Greek People

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?


2: Storytelling in Ancient Greece

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.


3: The Festival of Dionysus

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.


4: Does the “Where” Affect Performance?

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.


5: Tragedy, Satyr, and Comedy

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.

6: Ancient Greek Theatre: Presentation Project

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.

7: Presentation & Reflection

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


8: What Else Can You Do with Ancient Greek Theatre?

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

Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards


Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Cn10.1.HSI.a - Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Cn11.1.HSI.a - Explore how cultural, global, and historic belief systems affect creative choices in a drama/theatre work.

Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work - Grade HS Accomplished

TH:Pr6.1.HSII.a - Present a drama/theatre work using creative processes that shape the production for a specific audience.

Common Core


California VAPA Standards (2019)


Prof.TH:Cn10 Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

Prof.TH:Cn10 - Investigate how cultural contexts, community ideas, and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.

Prof.TH:Cn11.1 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

Prof.TH.Cn11.1.a - Explore how cultural, global, and historic belief systems affect creative choices in a drama/theatre work.

Florida Sunshine State Standards


British Columbia (2018)


GRADE 7 - ARTS - Communicating and documenting

Describe, interpret and respond to works of art

GRADE 8 - ARTS - Communicating and documenting

Describe, interpret and respond to works of art

GRADE 12 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Examine the impacts of dramatic works on culture and society

Ontario, Canada