Understanding basic improvisation skills will help musical theatre performers understand that musical theatre is more than just singing and dancing. It’s about using all the tools (voice, body, and mind) an actor has at their disposal to create a character.
This unit focuses more on the improv aspect rather than the musical theatre aspects - in fact students need no prior musical theatre knowledge. Annie Dragoo, creator of the unit, uses this material as her first unit in her musical theatre class. It’s a great introduction and will get your students in the right frame of mind to approach musical theatre.
The lessons explore a variety of improv skills such as vocal responses, movement, character study, sensory awareness and culminate in an improv scene and unit essay.
The overview lays out the lessons and descriptions for each for the unit.
Students will demonstrate an understanding of improv guidelines by using them in an exercise. This is an introductory improv lesson that is designed to build upon the actors’ tools in future lessons.
Students will demonstrate ability to respond vocally by participating in various improvisation activities.
Students will demonstrate ability to improvise movement by participating in a various activities.
Students will demonstrate ability to develop a character by participating in various improvisation exercises.
Students will demonstrate sensory awareness by improvising an everyday activity while paying attention to as many sensory details as possible.
Students will demonstrate ability to use voice, body, and imagination/mind together by planning and performing an improvised scene.
Students will evaluate the value of improvisation in musical theatre by writing a five-paragraph essay.
TH.912.C.1.2 - Create, refine, and sustain complex and believable characters for performance through the integration and application of artistic choices based on research, rehearsal, feedback, and refinement.
TA6.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Identify artistic choices, utilize theatre vocabulary, and demonstrate non-verbal communication skills in the rehearsal process.
b. Interpret a character’s motivation by understanding the relationship between their background and their behavior.
c. Identify the variety of relationships between characters.
d. Identify, define, and classify character traits.
e. Recognize and demonstrate the roles, responsibilities, and skills associated with collaborative performance.
f. Use resources to identify and create technical elements of theatre.
TA6.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Execute character creation in a performance.
c. Demonstrate a variety of types of theatre performances.
TA7.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Execute effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills in performance (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or theatre performance.
c. Engage in various performance styles.
TAHSA.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the voice, body, observation, and imagination as tools of the actor in presentations of formal and informal theatre.
b. Research and assess the development of acting skills for character creation and performance including historical movements, personal experience, and cultural influences.
c. Act by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
d. Identify and examine the responsibilities and tasks of an actor in relationship with directors, designers, and technical crew.
e. Use the skills and tools of a director to conduct rehearsals for performance.
TAHSAD.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the skills and tasks associated with acting, incorporating voice, body, observation, and imagination to create characters for formal and informal performances.
b. Implement the duties of the stage manager, including communication and safety procedures, that will assist the director in all areas of production.
c. Develop a schedule and organizational plan to prepare a scene for performance, including a rehearsal schedule and a prompt script.
d. Conduct rehearsals and present a full theatrical presentation to a live audience.
TAHSMT.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Analyze various theories of dramatic structure in a musical and explain how text, music, and movement can be used to advance the plot of a musical.
b. Engage in and apply meaningful cultural, literary, and historical research to support formal or informal theatrical performance.
TAHSMT.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the skills and tasks associated with acting, singing, and dancing, incorporating vocal and movement technique, observation, and imagination to create characters for formal and informal performances.
b. Identify and examine the responsibilities and tasks of an actor in relation to directors, designers, choreographers, technical crew, and production staff.
c. Use the skills and tools of a director to develop a presentation of formal and informal musical theatre performances.
d. Conduct rehearsals to present a musical theatre performance for a live audience.
Tennessee Theatre standards (2018) standards were built using the framework of the NCAS which is built on four key domains: Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Connecting, and Responding. Within each of these domains are foundations and standards to support the development of curriculum, programs, and learning.
(source: Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Academic Standards for Fine Arts, Summer 2018)
Please refer to National Core Arts Standards to determine the standard that best suits your needs.