Created by Lindsay Price
This unit focuses on the idea stage of playwriting. Before you start a playwriting project, take students through these lessons to provide students a step-by-step process for idea generation. When students are told they’re going to write a play, they often freeze. I can’t do it. I’m not creative; my ideas are stupid. The purpose of this unit is to give students a place to start and a way to move from finding a topic to creating an idea to writing theatrically on ideas.
This unit is designed to reach as many classroom environments as possible and includes: standard in-class lessons, instruction videos, instruction handouts, and quizzes.
National Core Arts Standards
Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - Grade 6
Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art - Grade 7
Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - Grade 7
Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - Grade 8
Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art - Grade 8
Perceive and analyze artistic work - Grade 8
Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art - Grade HS Proficient
Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art - Grade HS Accomplished
Organize and develop artistic ideas and work - Grade 6
Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work - Grade 6
Organize and develop artistic ideas and work - Grade 7
Organize and develop artistic ideas and work - Grade HS Proficient
Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 6
Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 8
Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work - Grade HS Accomplished
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.W.9-10.5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
California VAPA Standards (2019)
6.TH:Cr1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
7.TH:Cn10 Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
7.TH:Cr1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
8.TH:Cr1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
8.TH:Cn10 Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
8.TH:Re7 Perceive and analyze artistic work.
Prof.TH:Cn10 Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
Acc.TH:Cn10 Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
6.TH:Re8 Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
6.TH:Cr2 Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
7.TH:Cr2 Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Prof.TH:Cr2 Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
6.TH:Cr3 Refine and complete artistic work.
8.TH:Cr3 Refine and complete artistic work.
Acc.TH:Re9 Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.
Florida Sunshine State Standards
Critical Thinking & Reflection
Innovation, Technology & the Future
Georgia Performance Standards - Theatre Arts
Grade 6 - Creating
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.
Grade 7 - Creating
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).
Grade 7 - Connecting
TA7.CN.1 - Explore how theatre connects to life experience, careers, and other content.
a. Compare and contrast theatre with other art forms.
b. Articulate relationships between theatre and life.
c. Utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to create original theatre.
d. Describe the careers and professional responsibilities associated with theatre production (e.g. director, stage manager, designer, technician, playwright, actor).
Grade 8 - Creating
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.
Grades 9-12 - ACTING LEVELS I-IV - Creating
TAHSA.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Use script analysis in the development and presentation of formal and informal theatre performances.
b. Examine various theories of dramatic structure.
c. Engage in and apply meaningful cultural, literary, and historical research to create acting choices or directorial concepts.
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.
Grades 9-12 - ADVANCED DRAMA LEVELS I-IV -Creating
North Carolina Essential Standards
Proficient High School Standards - Communication
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Theatre Arts
HS 117.315 LI - Creative Expression: performance
HS 117.316 LII - Creative Expression: performance
Speech Drama 20
Playwriting - Drama 20
Junior Goal II Objectives
Junior Goal III Objectives
Junior Goal I Objectives
Theatre Studies Level III - Advanced (The script)
Senior Goal I Objectives
Senior Goal II Objectives
British Columbia (2018)
GRADE 9 - DRAMA - Exploring and creating
GRADE 9 - DRAMA - Reasoning and reflecting
GRADE 9 - DRAMA - Communicating and documenting
GRADE 9 - DRAMA - Connecting and expanding
GRADE 10 - DRAMA - Explore and Create
GRADE 10 - DRAMA - Reason and reflect
GRADE 10 - DRAMA - Communicate and document
GRADE 10 - DRAMA - Connect and expand
Grades 9 & 10 - Foundations - Context and Influences
C.2.1 - identify ways in which dramatic expression and performance reflect communities and cultures, past and present (e.g., the prominence of socially and/or politically powerful characters in the drama of pre-industrial societies; the use of boy actors for female roles in Shakespearean theatre; the emphasis on religious themes in the drama of many cultures in different eras)
Grades 9 & 10 - Foundations - Concepts and Terminology
C.1.1 - identify the drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques used in their own and others’ drama works, and explain how the various components are used, or can be used, to achieve specific effects, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., how a comic drama form can be used to convey a serious message, how setting and time period can be used to sharpen the focus on a moral dilemma, how characters can be used to vary the mood within a drama)
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)
Grades 9 & 10 - Reflecting, Responding and Analyzing - Drama and Society
B.2.1 - identify different types of drama and explain their function in diverse communities and cultures from the past and present (e.g., the function of television, film, or video game dramas with predictable plot lines and stock or stereotypical characters in today’s society; the function of theatre in ancient Greece, liturgical drama in medieval Europe, Shakespearean drama in Elizabethan England, and/or “social problem” dramas today)
B.2.2 - explain how dramatic exploration helps develop awareness of different roles and identities people have in society (e.g., explain what they learned through role playing characters from different socio-economic groups)
B.2.4 - identify ways in which dramatic exploration contributes to their understanding of diverse cultures and traditions (e.g., identify insights they gained through exploring the role of ritual in Greek theatre and/or Aboriginal ceremonies)
Grades 9 & 10 - Creating and Presenting - Elements and Conventions
A.2.1 - select and combine the elements of drama to achieve a variety of purposes in ensemble presentations (e.g., use the elements of character, time, and place in a drama about making a difficult choice; use the elements of time and place to clarify the focus in a drama about a historical event)
A.2.2 - use a variety of conventions to create a distinct voice that reflects a particular global, social, or personal perspective (e.g., use voices in the head, role on the wall, and hot seating to create a complex character from another region or country)
Grades 9 & 10 - Creating and Presenting - The Creative Process
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
A.1.2 - select and use appropriate forms to present identified issues from a variety of perspectives (e.g., use a radio play, improvisation, or series of tableaux to present two opposing views about a political, social, or environmental issue)
A.1.3 - use role play and characterization to explore personal and social issues (e.g., with a partner, create or assume a role that explores an issue such as bullying; create a scenario that reveals details about a character’s motivation)