Throughout the ages, theater has been used to record history, depict religious stories, spread information and even propaganda. Theater began in 500 B.C. in Greece. Today, Broadway shows alone sell over $1 billion worth in tickets and support 85,000 jobs – everyone from the playwright, to the sound technician, to the set designer. When visiting the theater, discuss what jobs people can have at the theater and the process of producing a stage play. Ask if the show offers Q&A or behind the scene opportunities.
BEFORE YOU GO
- Review relevant vocabulary and key terms: script, playwright, playbill, stage directions, act, scene
- Contact the theater company and inquire about backstage tours and/or meetings with the cast and crew after the performance.
- Before attending the performance, guide students through a performance of their own in the classroom. In groups, have them write and perform skits. Following their hard work and performances, encourage the students to reflect on the experience. What tasks were the most difficult? Was the task easier or harder than you expected? Why? Prompt students to remember their in class performances while they watch the professional performance in the theater.
Students investigate the multi-faceted world of the theater and the employment opportunities it provides.
WHAT TO WONDER
Ask: Who directs a play and ensures it runs smoothly? What occurs backstage? How are the stage and costumes changed so quickly?
Describe how you feel when the curtain rises. The music starts. The crowd applauds.
Observe the people working (orchestra, lighting, ushers, etc.). What are they doing? Notice the décor, the lighting, and the curtains.
Opinion: Which job do you think is the toughest? Why?
Compare the duties and responsibilities of the cast versus the duties and responsibilities of the crew.
Challenge: List all of the tasks and jobs you see being done throughout the performance. Predict and infer what jobs are being done behind the scenes.
Discuss how the people, carrying out different jobs, must work together to ensure a successful performance.
Project: Write a script and perform a play.
Research how the theater and theatrical performances have evolved over time.
Social Impact: Research plays that highlight social issues. Brainstorm current social issues you think could be emphasized by a theatrical performance.