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Theatre Arts

Course Description

It is the mission of the performing arts department to offer an opportunity for students to be part of something that is bigger than they are (performance/ensemble). These experiences nurture belonging, relationships, connections to the community, and an appreciation for the performing arts.

Ongoing development in middle school is based on participation in 6th, 7th and 8th grade theatre arts; the more involved, the more learning (e.g. 6 week courses vs. quarter courses). Students have opportunities to extend their learning beyond the classroom for the fullest theatrical experience through participation in our extracurricular activities.

Middle school theatre arts is a three-year program, including extra-curricular participation. In sixth grade theatre arts, students begin working on the creative process, stage movement and performance, and creating a character. Students explore interacting with scripts through reading and writing, as well as placing theatre in a historical context.

In seventh grade theatre arts, students continue to work on the creative process, improvisations, stage movement, and performance, while also increasing their abilities to portray different characters. Dramatic literature is introduced and students focus on applying acting skills to a script.

In eighth grade theatre arts, students work toward understanding various aspects of theatre though in-depth reading and analysis of quality literature, production and design work. Additionally, students demonstrate their understandings through creating performance events.

Grade Level(s): 6th-8th Grades

Related Priority Standards (State &/or National):  Missouri Fine Arts Theatre Standards

Essential Questions

  • How can participation in theatre (on or off stage) help develop empathy?
  • How does participation in theatre (on or off stage) impact our choices, morality, reasoning, and ethics?
  • How does participation in theatre (on or off stage) affect our behavior?
  • How is theatre a reflection of life?
  • How does theatre affect life?

Enduring Understandings/Big Ideas

  • Excellence is not accidental. It is achieved and chosen through practice and participation.
  • All students benefit from participation in the performing arts.
  • Working together requires dropping preconceived notions, personality differences, and prejudices.
  • Art is a powerful, valuable tool for self-expression and communication.
  • Perseverance is required for achievement.
  • The performing arts require preparation and planning.
  • The challenges of any theatrical production are unique and must be addressed for success.
  • Literature is the skeleton; art is what makes it walk.
  • The meaning of literature is not only found in the text itself, but lies beneath or in-between the lines (sub-text).
  • Plays aren't about words. Plays are what you do with words.
  • The conventions of theatre evolve and change, yet there are some fundamental aspects that remain the same throughout eras.
  • We are agents of change and impact the evolution of theatre.
  • Understanding the historical context of theatre enables us to bring a play to life and change the direction; we are participants; theatre does not happen to us, we become the driving direction; we breathe in the historical context and we breathe out the future.
  • The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Theatre is collaborative; it takes people coming together.
  • There is a synergy in ensemble.
  • Theatre both reflects and affects life.

Course-Level Scope & Sequence (Units &/or Skills)

Unit: Historical-Cultural Context

History and culture provide the backdrop for any play. Literature does not exist in a vacuum. Instead, each work is both a product of a culture as well as a reflection of a historical era. In order to understand and appreciate a work of art, one must understand the context in which it was created and in which it reflects.

  • Genres and Styles of Theatre Throughout History
    • Students will compare and contrast the impact of various genres and styles (tragedy, comedy, realism, romanticism, origins of drama, commedia dell arte, expressionism, etc.).
    • Students will research different genres and styles.
    • Students will apply research into different genres and styles to script writing, acting, design, directing and audience participation.
    • Students will understand the elements of drama as a means of communication.
    • Students will make connections between art and real life (cooperation, communication, collaboration, consensus, self-esteem, risk-taking, sympathy and empathy).

Unit Product Performance

Theatre is a multi-faceted performance art requiring a vast skill set, from acting, singing and dancing to directing and film production. Engaging in performance and production reaches many of the skills necessary for theatre.

  • Acting, Singing, Dancing
    • Students will demonstrate vocalization techniques (projection, diction).
    • Students will demonstrate physicalization techniques (body language, non-verbal communication).
    • Students will demonstrate memorization.
    • Students will utilize improvisation to create an imaginary environment.
  • Audience
    • Students will understand an actor's relationship with the audience.
    • Students will participate as a knowledgeable, respectful audience member.
    • Students will critique and/or reflect about a performance.
  • Character Analysis
    • Students will create a character.
    • Students will develop subtext.
    • Students will create environment through given circumstances.
    • Students will understand character motivation.
  • Directing
    • Students will create blocking; movement with purpose.
    • Students will analyze text.
    • Students will analyze character.
  • Film Studies
    • Students will analyze a performance.
    • Students will discuss aspects of theatre arts as they pertain to film.
    • Students will compare and contrast film media to theatre.
  • Rehearsal and Ensemble
    • Students will work together with peers, demonstrating mutual trust and dependence.
    • Students will collaborate with peers.
    • Students will create with peers.
    • Students will take risks.
    • Students will identify, analyze and make choices.
    • Students will develop improvisation techniques.
    • Students will self-evaluate in order to think critically about one's own work.
    • Students will develop social, group and consensus skills while collaborating with peers.
  • Technical Theatre
    • Students will design and explain basic technical aspects of a production (scene, props, costumes, lighting, sound, ground plan).
    • Students will create an environment using theories of design.

Unit: Text-Script Analysis

Scripted theatre comprises the vast majority of theatrical experience. Close reading, interpretation and evaluation are all critical in understanding and appreciating dramatic literature and the author's purpose. In reading and discussing quality literary sources students hone their artistic sensibilities and develop their own artistic voice.

  • Literacy through Text/Script Reading
    • Students will identify and analyze character, plot, dramatic structure and theme.
    • Students will identify and analyze subtext.
    • Students will critique a text or script.
    • Students will analyze text for creating an environment (technical aspects).
  • Literacy through Text/Script Writing
    • Students will develop character, plot, dramatic structure, and theme.
    • Students will develop subtext.

Date Last Revised/Approved: 2016