Theatre Courses Sequence & Scope

Theatre Arts at the high school level builds on K-8 theatre experiences as a comprehensive, sequential, and discipline-based program. Students continue to broaden their respect for, and understanding of, theatre as an art form. Students examine the relationship of theatre arts to other content areas and the role and meaning of theatre arts in various social, cultural, and historical contexts. Technical expertise, artistic expression, and aesthetic judgment are enhanced through reflective practice, study, and evaluation of their own work and that of others.

Students will have opportunities to demonstrate their work in many venues and methods at the high school level. Presentation of work through high-quality performance is only one of many valid outcomes of theatre arts education. Performances are a culmination of the process of studying and/or creating theatre arts. Performing is a learning experience that helps students to define the roles of performers, designers, technicians, and audience members; teaches students to respond to and critique theatrical performances appropriately; and helps students to build confidence and pride in their work. Performances also help foster an appreciation of Theatre Arts as an art form and as a form of communication.



  • The Proficient and Advanced level courses are Honors level with Honors level credit and rigor.
  • Students may repeat a given level of study as needed to attain sufficient mastery to advance to the next level.
  • Students maintain a cumulative portfolio of their work and related activities that is used for determining when a student is ready to advance to the next level.
  • Advancement is not automatic but is based upon teacher recommendation based upon portfolio review.


Through the creation of theatre, students make artistic choices and communicate those choices in a variety of forms. These communication skills are a natural process of creativity, whether it is in the form of improvising through movement, voice, or writing. Students use their bodies to express ideas, they develop variety in their voices, and they analyze stories and texts to gain further understanding of human behavior. Through shared experiences, students develop as participants, performers, and audience members.

Use movement, voice, and writing to communicate ideas and feelings.

  • Students communicate the physical elements, including size, weight, rate of movement, when doing pantomime by making the objects they come in contact with real, such as paying attention to the shapes of the objects, the senses that affect how they handle the objects, their use of the objects, etc.
  • Students use the environment and direct observation to create while using body language to interpret how people translate their emotional needs into physical actions.
  • Students use appropriate vocal technique with regards to elements such as pacing and inflection, when performing scenes and monologues.
  • Students writing skills reflect their maturity of experience, as seen by more complex situations, plots, and characters when writing dialogue.

Use performance to communicate ideas and feelings.

  • Students develop their techniques of improvisation, exhibiting spontaneity while using life experiences for generating ideas.
  • Students develop a more refined demonstration of characterization and interpretation of scenes in formal and informal theatre presentations.
  • Students show discipline in developing their acting skills through more focused concentration, observation, and characterization.
  • Students’ choices of scenes and plays also are reflected in their growing maturity.


Through analysis, students develop an understanding of the elements of theatre and are able to evaluate their work and the work of others based on this knowledge.

Analyze literary texts and performances.

  • Students discuss what makes theatre effective to an audience
  • Students go beyond basic plot and character elements when doing analysis, including insight into the elements of pacing, style, and genre.
  • Students explain how a narrative text can be transformed into a script.
  • Students analyze plays and other presentations in terms of characterization, theme, mood, and setting.
  • Students see how the interrelationships of characters affect the outcome and why playwrights use the selected plot structure.
  • Students read a recently published play that could be performed for the school and analyze the plot structure, themes, and technical elements.
  • Students attend formal and informal performances and then write a multi-page critique explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the performance and offer constructive criticism of the performance, including ways it could be improved.
  • Students use a journal to record their strengths, weaknesses, and suggestions for improvement as a theatre artist.


Aesthetics is the aspect of theatre that includes the visual elements of technical design and production used to evoke a response in the observer.

Understand how to design technical theatre components, such as costumes, sets, props, makeup, lighting, and sound.

  • Students learn that the technical aspects of theatre affect the mood and atmosphere of the play, whether it is the selection of music, properties, or the selection of colors in costumes or scenery.
  • Students understand that technical theatre supports the production and helps the audience understand the intentions of the playwright.
  • Students identify and make judgments about technical elements, and they comment on their aesthetic appeal.
  • Students identify major technical elements in dramatic presentations and make judgments about their effectiveness.
  • Students explain which elements are more effective for different types and genres of plays.
  • Students learn to design and produce theatre by conceptualizing artistic interpretations for informal or formal productions.
  • Students design costumes, scenery, makeup, and lighting to enhance the overall aesthetics of theatrical presentations.
  • Students build upon ideas of others and formulate designs of their own.
  • Students use extensive research for the appropriateness of their designs when asked to create designs for a specific audience.
  • Students also learn about different performance spaces, such as proscenium, thrust, and arena theatres.
  • Students understand the concepts of black box theatres and the different effects of dramatic lighting.
  • Students also become more technically adept at managing, organizing and operating technical equipment.
  • Students serve as light board operators, stage managers, costume and wardrobe assistants, or property masters.
  • Students also understand the consequences of not following correct safety precautions.


The Culture Strand covers the evolution of history, culture, and traditions which have evolved in the Theatre Arts in the United States and the world. It encompasses the conventions, or rules, that are specific to the stage by which plays are performed. It includes the understanding of public reaction and behavior when attending theatrical performances, as well as appropriate responses to theatre, including the giving and receiving of constructive criticism.

Analyze theatre in terms of the social, historical, and cultural contexts in which it was created.

  • Students establish connections between events that happened in world history to specific movements and styles in theatre.
  • Students understand how theatres may schedule only a specific genre or have established criteria for shows they produce because of economics and local culture.
  • Students explore United States and world history through the lens of theatre.
  • Students use performance to distinguish the difference between Non-Western theatre and Western theatre.

Understand the traditions, roles, and conventions of theatre as an art form.

  • Students demonstrate and compare the rules of theatre etiquette for performers and technicians across historical periods.
  • Students model appropriate theatre etiquette for younger and less-informed students.
  • Students apply theatre conventions to their performance scenes, such as use of the fourth wall, projection, subtext, and counter-cross.
  • Students have a full understanding of the interrelationship of the many roles of theatre personnel by the time they reach proficiency and can document their understanding by creating an organizational chart showing the leadership roles and responsibilities of an entire production crew.