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East Meets West: Theatre Traditions

Created by Marsha Walner

We spend a lot of time in the classroom exploring, applying, and creating in a western theatrical tradition. But there are many more styles that students can explore, particularly to the east: Kabuki, Noh, Chinese Opera, and Sanskrit Theatre, for example. In this unit, students will be introduced to an element from each of these eastern styles, they will apply that element and build towards a culminating project. Throughout, students will develop a stronger understanding of both the theatre from their own culture and that of Eastern cultures.

Standards Addressed

Overview
The overview lays out the lesson plans and objectives within the unit.
1: Western Theatre
Students will define Western theatre based on what we know about our culture and its storytelling traditions.
2: Kabuki Theatre from Japan
Students explore Kabuki from Japan and use the Mie technique to display character in this for-the-masses spectacle form of theatre.
3: Noh Theatre from Japan
Exploring Noh from Japan and how masks and movement techniques communicate character in a unique style of storytelling.
4: Chinese Opera
Students explore Chinese opera and how some of what culture values can be seen in an exaggerated way on stage.
5: Sanskrit Theatre from India
Students explore Sanskrit theatre from India and how rituals and intentional actions give strength and unity to the creative process.
6: Scene Development
Students will form small groups and delve into one style. They will use that style to retell a common folktale or story, conceptualizing how their story will unfold on stage.
7: Scene Building and Polish
Groups will polish their piece, ensuring everyone is clear on their responsibilities as well as requesting any production elements necessary.
8: Final Preparations
Final preparations for the performance during this class, including making and incorporating props or costumes and polishing the scenes.
9: Performance
Final performances will occur on this day, with audience members offering observation-based feedback.

Standards Addressed

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