DTA | Improvisation in Musical Theatre
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Improvisation in Musical Theatre

Created by Annie Dragoo

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.

Standards Addressed

Overview
The overview lays out the lessons and descriptions for each for the unit.
1: Intro to Improv for Musical Theatre
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.
2: Improv with Vocal Responses
Students will demonstrate ability to respond vocally by participating in various improvisation activities.
3: Improv with Movement
Students will demonstrate ability to improvise movement by participating in a various activities.
4: Improv for Character Study
Students will demonstrate ability to develop a character by participating in various improvisation exercises.
5: Improv Using Sensory Awareness
Students will demonstrate sensory awareness by improvising an everyday activity while paying attention to as many sensory details as possible.
6: Improvisation Scenes
Students will demonstrate ability to use voice, body, and imagination/mind together by planning and performing an improvised scene.
7: Unit Reflection (Essay)
Students will evaluate the value of improvisation in musical theatre by writing a five-paragraph essay.

Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards

Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation - Grade HS Accomplished

TH:Pr5.1.HSII.a - Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.

Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 6

TH:Cr3.1.6.b - Identify effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work.

Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 7

TH:Cr3.1.7.b - Develop effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work

California VAPA Standards (2019)

Acc.TH:Pr5 Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Acc.TH:Pr5.a - Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.

Georgia Performance Standards - Theatre Arts

Tennessee Theatre Curriculum Standards

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.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Theatre Arts

MS 117.211 LI - Creative Expression: performance

C.2.F - create environments, characters, and actions.

MS 117.212 LII - Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding

B.1.E - demonstrate knowledge of theatrical vocabulary and terminology.

HS 117.315 LI - Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding

C.1.J - identify the principles of improvisation.

Alberta, Canada

Improvisation/Acting Level III - Advanced

26 - pick up cues effectively

British Columbia (2018)

GRADE 8 - ARTS - Communicating and documenting

Take creative risks to express feelings, ideas, and experiences

GRADE 10 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Demonstrate respect for self, others, and the audience

GRADE 11 - DRAMA - Reason and reflect

Demonstrate awareness of self, others, and audience

GRADE 11 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Demonstrate awareness of self, others, and audience

GRADE 12 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Demonstrate respect for self, others, and audience

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