In this middle school unit by Rachel Atkins, students will explore how to strengthen a theatrical argument through objectives, communication, and conflict: What characters do, what they say, and how they say it when they make an argument or try to achieve an objective. To do this, students will use tableaux, dialogue, and improv. There are presentations and post-lesson writing assignments that you can use for assessment.
How do characters, actors and writers use a variety of actions to achieve an objective or support an argument? How do they enhance their communication by word choice and emotion? How do they develop and strengthen their own arguments by understanding other points of view?
The overview includes the goals of the unit and provides an outline for each of the three lessons.
In this lesson, students explore character objectives: They will use facial expression and physical gestures to make statues of different actions that characters might take to get what they want. Students will work with a partner to create tableaux (frozen stage pictures) to show a specific action and response. They will write an argument in which they identify a specific action – and then support that claim with evidence from the statues and tableaux.
In this lesson, students explore word choice, emotion, and vocal expression in communication. They will select an objective or argument and actions to support it. They will write lines of dialogue to match different actions. They will choose an emotion that correspond with the line and action, and practice speaking their lines with emotion and vocal expression. Finally, they will write an argument explaining how a line expresses a specific action – and support it with evidence.
In this final lesson, students explore two different characters whose opposing points of view or arguments create a conflict. They will identify the objectives or arguments for each character. They will act out a scene between those two characters multiple times, playing both characters. Finally, they will write an argument from one character’s point of view – and support it with evidence.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Research, describe, interpret and evaluate how artists (dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists) use processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques, and environments in the arts
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)