Theatre Curriculum Overview
According to the California Content Standards, the Theatre Content Standards are categorized as part of the Visual and Performing Arts Program. Students, ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade, will learn about theatre through artistic perception, creative expression, historical and cultural context, aesthetic valuing, and connections, relationships/application. The main goal for all the grade levels is to develop their public speaking abilities and their creative imagination.
Imaginative play is an important role at this age level. Students are introduced to the vocabulary of theatre, such as actor, character, cooperation, setting, the five senses, and audience to describe theatrical experiences. They are able to identify the difference between real people and imaginary characters. Development of theatrical skills is performed through imitative movements, rhythmical activities, and theatre games, such as statues, mirrors, or freeze. As for creation and invention in theatre, they use costumes and props in role playing and perform group pantomimes. Further, kindergarteners can retell and dramatize stories through their character portrays of different community helpers. They will be demonstrating their theatrical ability by cooperatively participating in school performances.
In this grade level, students will be observing and describing traits of certain characters through the use of theatrical vocabulary. Students will develop their creative expressions by applying skills in pantomime, tableau, and improvisation. They learn to dramatize or improvise simple stories from classroom literature or life experiences. Students also develop an understanding for theatrical conventions, such as props, costumes, masks, and sets. They are able to describe the role and responsibilities of an audience and actor. After each activity, students will be asked to describe what was liked about the story or theatrical work and discuss the emotional reactions of the experience. By the end of the school year, students will be able to apply their understanding of the theatre and work cooperatively with others.
At this level, students are learning about the scene, sets, conflict, script and audience of a school performance. In doing this, students learn to use their body and voice to improvise alternative endings to a story, perform in group improvisational games that develop cooperative skills and concentration, retell familiar stories that will sequence story points, character, setting, and conflicts, and create costume pieces, props, or sets for theatrical experience. Students are also expected to compare and contrast characters in story or plays from different periods and places. They learn to critique each other’s performance and be able to identify the message or moral of the work of theatre. The main goals for second grade students are to be able to use problem-solving and cooperative skills to dramatize a story and demonstrate the ability to participate cooperatively in different theatrical jobs.
Developing the vocabulary of theatre includes terminologies, such as character, setting, conflict, audience, motivation, props, stage areas, and blocking. Students are now able to identify who, what, where, when, and why in a theatrical experience. They participate in cooperative script writing or improvisations that will incorporate the Five W’s. Further, students are able to create for classmates simple scripts, dramatize different cultural versions of similar stories from around the world, identify the universal theme in plays or stories, compare and contrast two different works of theatre message or content, and make critical assessment of theatre. Once students have a theatrical experience, they will develop problem-solving and communication skills by participating collaboratively in performances.
Students in the fourth grade level will further develop their vocabulary of theatre, such as plot, conflict, climax, resolution, tone, objectives, motivation, and stock characters, to describe theatrical experiences. At this point, they will be able to identify a character’s objectives and motivations to explain the character’s behavior and demonstrate how voice may be used to explore multiple possibilities for a live reading. Students will continue to learn to demonstrate emotional traits of a character through gestures and action. As for their creation and invention in theatre, they will learn to alter their tones to retell or improvise stories from classroom literatures, and design and create their own costumes, props, make-up, or masks. Not only will students create but also learn and understand about the role and development of theatre. After each performance, students will critique and assess performances as to characterization, diction, pacing, gesture, and movement. Each student will be dramatizing and improvising to further develop their theatrical experience.
The fifth grade theatrical experience includes the development of the vocabulary of theatre, such as sense, memory, script, cue, monologue, dialogue, protagonist, and antagonist. Students will learn to identify the structural elements of plot in a script, participate in improvisational activities, and collaborate as actor, director, scriptwriter, or technical artist in creating formal or informal theatrical performances. They will be active in selecting or creating props, sets, and costumes, learn how to develop different critiquing techniques, and use theatrical skills to dramatize events and concepts from other curriculum areas, such as reenacting stories from history. Students will take a more active role in the theatrical experience.
The development of the vocabulary of theatre becomes more complex at this grade level. Theatrical vocabularies include action/reaction, vocal projection, subtext, theme, mood, design, production values, and stage crew. Students are able to identify how production values can manipulate mood to persuade and disseminate propaganda. As for creative expression, students participate in improvisational activities, use vocal expression, gesture, facial expression, and timing to create certain characters, and write or perform scenes or one-act plays that include monologue, dialogue, action, and setting together with a range of different character types. At this point, students are expected to write and create scripts, reflecting historical periods or cultures. They will also be learning about different theatrical traditions of cultures throughout the world, such as those in Ancient Greece, Egypt, China, and West Africa. Discussion about the influence of theatre, television, and film will be discussed to help students better understand about how theatre works. As part of the framework for theatrical work, students develop criteria for evaluating sets, lighting, costumes, make-up, and props. They will learn to use their theatrical skills to communicate concepts or ideas from other curriculum areas.
As students enter the seventh grade, they begin to grasp a better understanding about artistic perception. Students will be observing their environment and respond, using the elements of theatre. They will also be observing, formal and informal works of theatre, film/video, and electronic media and respond using the vocabulary of theatre. Building on this fundamental principle, students will apply processes and skills in acting, directing, designing, and script writing to create a formal and informal theatre, film/videos, and electronic media productions and perform in them. Understanding the historical contributions and cultural dimensions of theatre is an important concept in the theatre. Students will analyze the role and development of theatre in the past and present cultures throughout the world, noting the diversity as it relates to theatre. Seventh grade students continues to build their aesthetic valuing through critiquing and deriving meaning from works of theatre, film/video, electronic media, and theatrical artists on the basis of aesthetic qualities. Their learning will progress as they apply what they have learned across all subject areas. At this point, they will develop competencies and creative skills in problem solving, communication, and time management that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills. They also learn about careers in and related to theatre.