For the purpose of summary, this is a unit about options. In the theater, there are as many options and approaches as there are people. Diversity is not just welcomed, it is necessary. Everything the actor does to prepare a character involves an exploration of human behavior. The actor seeks first to know one's own behavior, and to refer to this knowledge as a springboard for ideas, and as a point of reference when considering another's real or fictional character make-up. The actor studies how to consider other options, ways of thinking, perspectives, motivations, and methodologies.
Not every theater student at Co-Op wants to pursue acting as a career. Nor do those uninterested in acting necessarily want to pursue a career in the theater industry. Fortunately, their studying of acting prepares them for just about any profession. As mentioned above in the section on objectives, many academic and work skills naturally develop. The students can immediately apply all of the skills cultivated in the study of theater to related areas including philosophy, psychology, communications, journalism, foreign languages, any visual art history or production, and education. The systematic approach to studying theater also lends itself to studies and careers in computer science, social work, business and law.
Theater brings together individuals in a group who work together to establish and achieve goals, through problem solving. Each theater class is a "collective." Any and all experience gained while working in a theater-type collective can be directly applied to our lives in today's global community.
The primary objective of this unit is to create an effective group dynamic. The intended resulting dynamic emphasizes group utilization of each individual's strengths and weaknesses in an environment based on support, trust, respect, cooperation, and creative expression. Many other academic and work skill objectives abound and receive attention in this unit. Almost a dozen achievement standards as dictated by the Federal government's National Standards for Theatre are addressed on the level of ninth and tenth grade proficiency.
Each student who participates in this unit develops their skills of concentration, independent thinking and critical analysis through the exploration of the medicine cabinet, play, improvisation exercises, and handouts of materials. Analysis skills will be extensively utilized through the cultivation of the physical, emotional and social dimensions of the characters found in the play and improvisations. Students will identify authors' and artists' premises in the context of cultural and historical perspectives, and compare these perspectives to each other and to their own. Small work groups will provide diversity in the comparison of how similar themes are treated by various cultures, and to evaluate the current validity and practicality of the treatments. From this, they can construct social meanings from other cultures that relate to their current personal, national and international issues.
As young actors, each student develops their creativity, resourcefulness and originality as they participate in the games, play reading, and improvisational exercises. The small work groups of no more than five students will collaboratively design and produce a mini play, or skit, by first conceptualizing and realizing their own artistic interpretation of what they have studied, and what it means to them. Then as they collaborate to write the skit, they will practice oral and written communication, and learn new approaches to group problem solving. The latter flexes their ability to give and take direction, and how to respectfully disagree with a directive. The students must employ increased self-discipline and self-control, resulting in a professional demeanor. Perhaps most importantly of all, the students who participate will gain insight into their own character. Consideration of their own character will hopefully lead them to more constructive than destructive criticism.
As the improvisations are developed, each group will use initiative to identify and develop strategies to define their objectives and to reach their goals. They will produce a coherent scene with a beginning, middle, and end, which uses all of the performance elements they have already been introduced to effectively convey their opinions. The students will have to accept personal responsibility for their statements and actions.