This is a read, discuss, and apply literature unit. Students will study the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.
Our Town is often referred to as “nostalgic.” It’s seen as an antiquated look at a moment in time. But this play is called Our Town, not My Town. What’s happening in Grover’s Corners happened in the past, the distant past, in our present, and even in the future. The themes of the play—the ordinary versus universality, the concept of time, the cycle of life, the ignorance of humanity to the eternal—these are just as relevant in the twenty-first century as they were when the play was written.
The purpose of the unit is not to have students recall knowledge about the play. Students will be able to identify, articulate, and dramatize text themes and concepts and compare/contrast these concepts to their own experiences.
The overview lays out the lesson structure for the unit and includes details on lesson format, lesson activity choice, and assessment.
In this pre-reading lesson, students reflect on their day-to-day life and look for the connection between the ordinary and universality. It’s important to have them connect the ordinary and universality in a modern context, before moving to the same connections in the text.
In this lesson, students will be introduced to Our Town through positive and negative reviews of the original production, examine and discuss a facts sheet on the play, and learn more about the world the playwright was writing in through a research activity.
In this lesson, students will read and analyze Act One of Our Town within the theme of the ordinary versus universality. The lesson format encourages students to explore text themes and concepts through scene work before they read, participate in a small group discussion post read, and then take on an activity to apply knowledge through a theatrical expression of the text.
In this lesson, students will continue to analyze the first act of Our Town with a focus of examining the non-realistic elements Wilder uses. What comes across as a play steeped in realism and realistic characters actually uses a number of experimental theatrical techniques.
In this lesson, students will read and analyze Act Two of Our Town within the theme of love and marriage. The lesson format encourages students to explore text themes and concepts through scene work before they read, participate in a small group discussion post read, and then take on an activity to apply knowledge through a theatrical expression of the text.
In this lesson, students will continue to analyze the second act of Our Town by examining the concept of time. Why does the play use a wedding and the idea of marriage as a marker for time slipping away? How do characters react to the passage of time?
In this lesson, students will read and analyze Act Three of Our Town within the theme of death. The lesson format encourages students to explore text themes and concepts through scene work before they read, participate in a small group discussion post read, and then take on an activity to apply knowledge through a theatrical expression of the text.
In this lesson, students will continue to analyze the third act of Our Town with a focus of examining the concept of the eternal as it connects to valuing the ordinary.
TH:Pr6.1.HSIII.a - Present a drama/theatre production for a specific audience that employs research and analysis grounded in the creative perspectives of the playwright, director, designer, and dramaturg.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 - Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 - Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 - Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3 - Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.4 - Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.3 - Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Prof.TH:Cr2.a - Explore the function of history and culture in the development of a dramatic concept through a critical analysis of original ideas in drama/theatre works from western or non-western theatre traditions.
Acc.TH:Cr2.a - Refine a dramatic concept to demonstrate a critical understanding of historical and cultural influences of original ideas applied to a drama/theatre in western or non-western theatre traditions.
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.CR.2 - Develop scripts through theatrical techniques.
a. Identify the elements of a story.
b. Identify the theme and structure of a play.
c. Articulate creative ideas in oral and written forms.
d. Use the dramatic writing process to generate a script.
e. Demonstrate the conventions of dialogue and stage directions.
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.
TA6.CN.2 - Examine the role of theatre in a societal, cultural, and historical context.
a. Describe the origins of theatre.
b. Identify and analyze ways in which theatre influences and reflects the culture of a society.
c. Utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to research, create, and support artistic choices.
d. Examine the relevance of cultural and historical context.
TA7.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Identify and rehearse effective communication skills.
b. Compare and contrast character types and relationships by analyzing character motivations, objectives, and goals.
c. Compare the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character.
d. Investigate the role and responsibility of the cast and crew.
e. Identify and model ensemble skills in the rehearsal process.
f. Utilize staging and blocking choices to enhance the performance.
g. Compare, contrast, and design elements of technical theatre.
h. Utilize theatre vocabulary throughout the rehearsal process.
TA7.CR.2 - Develop scripts through theatrical techniques.
a. Create ideas for stories.
b. Analyze the theme and structure of a play.
c. Use the dramatic writing process to generate a script.
d. Utilize dramatic conventions in the scriptwriting process (e.g. stage directions, dialogue, scenes).
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.
TA7.RE.1 - Engage actively and appropriately as an audience member.
a. Assess the role and responsibility of the audience as an integral part of theatre performances.
b. Summarize the relationship between the audience and performers.
c. Predict how audience relationships will differ with venue and performance type.
d. Demonstrate appropriate audience behaviors.
TA7.CN.2 - Examine the role of theatre in a societal, cultural, and historical context.
a. Examine theatre development throughout history.
b. Identify and analyze cultural influences on theatre.
c. Utilize multi-disciplinary research skills to obtain cultural and historical information to justify artistic choices (e.g. costuming, make-up, setting of a time period in relation to the play).
d. Draw conclusions about the influence of theatre on society.
TA8.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Differentiate the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a variety of characters.
b. Compare the relationships and interactions between characters by analyzing character motivation (objectives, obstacles, strategy, action, stakes, outcome).
c. Incorporate dramatic elements through improvisation.
d. Connect theatre vocabulary to the application of theatre performance.
e. Identify and demonstrate both ensemble and leadership skills in the rehearsal process.
f. Evaluate the effectiveness of artistic and technical elements used in a theatre production.
g. Design and create scenery, props, costumes, lighting, and sound.
h. Assume different roles and responsibilities in the rehearsal process.
TA8.CR.2 - Develop scripts through theatrical techniques.
a. Classify different points of view in a story.
b. Identify, analyze, and articulate the structure of a script.
c. Utilize improvisation techniques to generate script ideas.
d. Use the dramatic writing process to generate a script.
TA8.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Demonstrate the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character in different types of theatre performances (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, motivation, physical movement).
b. Demonstrate appropriate ensemble skills throughout a performance.
c. Use appropriate listening and response skills during performances.
TA8.CN.2 - Examine the role of theatre in a societal, cultural, and historical context.
a. Compare and contrast how theatre evolves through time.
b. Examine how culture is defined through theatre and other media.
c. Apply advanced research skills to obtain appropriate cultural and historical information to rationalize artistic choices (e.g. costuming, make-up, setting of a time period in relation to the play).
d. Discuss theatre’s role in reflecting the culture of a society.
TAHSA.CR.2 - Develop scripts through theatrical techniques.
a. Examine theatre practices regarding the development, structure, layout, and format of scripts.
b. Use improvisation, personal experiences, heritage, imagination, literature, and history to develop scripts.
c. Perform formal and informal monologues and scenes based on published and original scripts.
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.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Examine various theories of dramatic structure.
b. Engage in and apply meaningful cultural, literary, and historical research to create acting choices or directorial concepts.
TAHSFT.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Recognize and/or employ realistic and conventional speech patterns within dialogue or dramatic verse.
b. Incorporate dramatic elements through improvisation.
c. Recognize and interpret artistic choices in performance.
TAHSFT.CR.2 - Develop scripts through theatrical techniques.
a. Differentiate between dramatic and traditional literary writing and utilize common steps of the playwriting process.
b. Assess the need for script analysis, concept development, and directorial and technical concerns of a theatrical script.
c. Construct and critique elements of dramatic structure, character, and dialogue.
d. Create and perform scenes for audiences.
TAHSFT.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Observe and demonstrate aspects of verbal and non-verbal techniques in common human activity for performance (e.g. voice, breathing, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Construct and interpret artistic choices in performance including the objectives, decisions, and actions of characters.
c. Explore various acting methods and techniques (e.g. Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, sense memory, emotional recall) for the purpose of character development.
d. Perform acting choices for an audience based on critiques.
TAHSFT.PR.2 - Execute artistic and technical elements of theatre.
a. Identify and define the various collaborative roles and relationships of technical production personnel (e.g. sound, lighting, set, scenic, costume, dramaturge, makeup, marketing, business aspects) in relation to the directors and performers.
b. Identify and apply the various aspects of directing, staging, performance spaces, and rehearsal management.
c. Recognize and apply the basic elements and procedures involved in the construction of props, scenery, and platforms.
d. Formulate effective theatrical designs in order to support the text and directorial concept.
TAHSFT.RE.1 - Engage actively and appropriately as an audience member.
a. Articulate why the relationship between the audience and performers is critical to the success of the production and demonstrate appropriate audience behavior.
b. State and support aesthetic judgments through experience in diverse styles and genres of theatre.
TAHSFT.CN.2 - Examine the role of theatre in a societal, cultural, and historical context.
a. Identify and analyze plays and dramas from a variety of historical periods and cultures.
b. Explore the works of milestone playwrights and plays, and the relevance of historical theatre.
c. Recognize historical events that have influenced the role of theatre and how theatrical events have impacted cultural development.
d. Interpret cultural and historical research for use in a production.
TAHSTL.CR.1 - Develop original theatre literature.
a. Compare and summarize theatre literature from various historical periods, cultures, and styles.
b. Examine and outline the steps and conventions involved in the creation of a theatre text.
c. Develop original texts using theatre techniques (e.g. improvisation, adapting non-theatre literature, playwriting exercises).
TAHSTL.RE.1 - Evaluate various aspects of theatre literature using appropriate supporting evidence.
a. Develop and apply a set of comprehensive criteria for theatre text analysis.
b. Compare and contrast theatre texts to live/film performance.
TAHSTL.CN.1 - Connect theatre literature to its dramaturgical contexts and other disciplines.
a. Trace the development of theatre from earliest forms to contemporary forms.
b. Identify and summarize contributions made to the development of theatre literature by different cultures and traditions.
c. Research and explain how cultural and historical factors have influenced playwrights and theatre literature.
d. Identify the elements, influences, and contributions of other art forms and content areas to theatre literature.
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.
B1.1 - engage actively in drama exploration and role play, with a focus on examining multiple perspectives related to current issues, themes, and relationships from a wide variety of sources and diverse communities
B1.1 - engage actively in drama exploration and role play, with a focus on examining multiple perspectives and possible outcomes related to complex issues, themes, and relationships from a wide variety of sources and diverse communities
C.3.2 - identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., use active listening and cooperative problem-solving skills; practise punctuality; use tact in suggesting changes and improvements; demonstrate willingness to accept criticism and build consensus)
C.3.3 - demonstrate an understanding of theatre and audience etiquette, in both classroom and formal performance contexts (e.g., as a performer: show willingness to take direction and behave appropriately towards other actors; as a viewer: demonstrate respect for performers and other audience members by paying attention, not interrupting or talking, and applauding when appropriate)
C.1.2 - demonstrate an understanding of and use correct terminology to refer to the forms, elements, conventions, and techniques of drama, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., chorus, protagonist, ingénue, supporting role, act, scene, climax, resolution, improvisation, mask, freeze-frame image)
B.3.1 - identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities (e.g., brainstorming, active listening, and cooperative problem-solving skills; strategies for sharing responsibility through collaborative team roles)
A.1.1 - develop interpretations of issues from contemporary or historical sources (e.g., photographs, videos, music, newspaper/magazine articles, an eyewitness account of a historical event) as the basis for drama