DTA | Unit Eight: Theatre of the Oppressed
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Part of the Middle School Curriculum

Unit Eight: Theatre of the Oppressed

Created by Lindsay Johnson

Students will have a chance to merge their understanding of scene elements with their improvisation skills in this final unit based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. Theatre of the Oppressed is a style of theatre specifically created to highlight the injustices of power and oppression in society and to problem-solve ways to bring about change.

Starting with image theatre techniques to identify issues of power and oppression, students will then use forum theatre to create scenarios of oppression taken from their own lives and improvise realistic solutions.

The unit culminates in a performance in which students participate as both actors in a scene they create themselves and spect-actors in scenes created by their peers.

Standards Addressed

Overview
The overview lays out the objectives for the unit, outlines all lesson plans, and provides context for the assessment tools.
Additional Attachments
1: Introduction to Theatre of the Oppressed
Students will participate in a tableau “Power Handshake” exercise that will give them some basic background experience with image theatre/tableau and nonverbal expressions of relationship and power. They will then work on their critical thinking skills by close reading an article that gives a brief introduction to Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.
2: Power Games
Students will participate in a number of power activities that will encourage them to come up with ways to physically demonstrate a powerful/powerless character. A discussion about power in our society will follow.
3: Image Theatre, Day 1
Students will be introduced to Boal’s Image Theatre. They will review the concept of tableau (frozen picture) from Lesson 1, and they will be introduced to the tableau rubric and the three tableau skills (frozen bodies, 3+ levels, and character). In small groups, they will create tableaux that capture an image of “Family” (whatever that word means to them).
4: Image Theatre, Day 2
Students will review the three tableau skills (frozen bodies, 3+ levels, and character). In small groups, they will analyze the tableaux from last class that captured an image of “Family” (whatever that word meant to them), as well as create and analyze new tableaux around a topical issue in society.
5: Image Theatre, Day 3
In groups, students will brainstorm a list of scenarios in which they feel power or oppression in their daily lives. They will then select a scenario from their list and turn it into a tableau.
6: Introduction to Forum Theatre
Students will be introduced to forum theatre by researching a video example. Students will then try their hand at forum theatre by acting out a middle school scenario of oppression, becoming spect-actors, and improvising solutions.
7: Creating Forum Theatre Scenarios
In groups, students will begin by briefly bringing to life the tableaux from Lesson 5. They will then create the skeleton of a scene for each tableau, indicating the protagonist, antagonist, and method of oppression in each scenario. Finally, students will review their peer’s work and rank the scenes that they are most interested in bringing to life.
8: Script Writing for Forum Theatre Scene
Students will take the scene outline created last class and use it to create a more detailed script that includes scene-setting notes, movement notes, and dialogue for the characters. Students will evaluate a peer’s script for errors in grammar or script writing conventions. They will then turn in their scripts for an assessment grade at the end of class.
9: Scene Rehearsal and Improv Review
Students will begin by discussing the importance of realistic acting in these scenes, noting how they will be graded on the Realistic Acting Rubric. They will commit their scenes to memory and review projection skills. When the scenes are solid, students will then begin practicing becoming and reacting to spect-actors, and reviewing the Improvisation, Spect-acting, and Realistic Acting Rubrics after each spect-acting attempt.
10: Performance Assessment
In this lesson, students will perform their final scene for assessment in front of the class. They will also complete an audience feedback sheet where they give their peers feedback on rubric skills.

Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards

Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - Grade 6

TH:Cr1.1.6.a - Identify possible solutions to staging challenges in a drama/theatre work.

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 6

TH:Pr4.1.6.b - Experiment with various physical choices to communicate character in a drama/theatre work.

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 7

TH:Pr4.1.7.b - Use various character objectives in a drama/theatre work.

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 8

TH:Pr4.1.8.b - Use various character objectives and tactics in a drama/theatre work to overcome an obstacle.

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Pr4.1.HSI.a - Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade 6

TH:Cn11.1.6.a - Identify universal themes or common social issues and express them through a drama/theatre work.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding - Grade 8

TH:Cn11.1.8.a - Use different forms of drama/theatre work to examine contemporary social, cultural, or global issues.

Organize and develop artistic ideas and work - Grade HS Accomplished

TH:Cr2.1.HSII.b - Cooperate as a creative team to make interpretive choices for a 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

Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work - Grade 7

TH:Pr6.1.7.a - Participate in rehearsals for a drama/theatre work that will be shared with an audience.

Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work - Grade 8

TH:Pr6.1.8.a - Perform a rehearsed drama/theatre work for an audience.

Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Pr6.1.HSI.a - Perform a scripted drama/theatre work for a specific audience.

Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work - Grade HS Accomplished

TH:Pr6.1.HSII.a - Present a drama/theatre work using creative processes that shape the production for a specific audience.

Common Core

California VAPA Standards (2019)

6.TH:Cr1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work

6.TH:Cr1.a - Identify possible solutions to staging challenges in a drama/theatre work.

6.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

6.TH:Pr4.b - Experiment with various physical choices to communicate character in a drama/theatre work.

7.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

7.TH:Pr4.b - Use various character objectives in a drama/theatre work.

8.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

8.TH:Pr4.b - Use various character objectives and tactics in a drama/theatre work to overcome an obstacle.

Prof.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

Prof.TH:Pr4.a - Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.

6.TH:Cn11.1 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

6.TH.Cn11.1.a - Identify universal themes or common social issues and express them through a drama/theatre work.

8.TH:Cn11.1 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

8.TH.Cn11.1.a - Use different forms, styles, genres of drama/theatre work to examine contemporary social, cultural, or global issues.

7.TH:Pr6 Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

67TH:Pr6 - Create through improvisation a drama/theatre work that will be shared with an audience.

8.TH:Pr6 Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

8.TH:Pr6 - Perform a rehearsed, scripted scene from a drama/theatre work for an audience.

Prof.TH:Pr6 Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

Prof.TH:Pr6 - Perform a rehearsed, scripted short drama/theatre work for a specific audience.

Florida Sunshine State Standards

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 - Critical evaluation and response

C.5.A - identify and apply audience etiquette at all performances.

MS 117.212 LII - Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding

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

HS 117.315 LI - Critical evaluation and response

C.5.C - offer and receive constructive criticism of peer performances.

HS 117.316 LII - Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding

C.1.C - demonstrate effective voice and diction.

HS 117.316 LII - Critical evaluation and response

C.5.C - offer and receive constructive criticism of peer performances.

HS 117.317 LIII - Foundations: Inquiry and Understanding

C.1.B - experiment with stage movement.

Alberta, Canada

Improvisation/Acting Level III - Advanced

27 - identify and create a believable emotional build

Speech Level I - Beginning

6 - use volume appropriate to situation

Improvisation/Acting Level II - Intermediate

21 - sustain a character throughout an exercise or scene

Theatre Studies Level II - Intermediate (Theatre History)

5 - recognize that “theatre is a mirror of society”.

British Columbia (2018)

Ontario, Canada

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