Drama Residency

Theatre as a Gateway to Literacy

The following overview is a comprehensive and sequential theatre residency that meets Visual and Performing Arts standards in Theatre while also addressing specific grade level English-Language Arts standards.

While we are eager to collaborate with teachers to create unique drama curricula, the following blueprint outlines a progressive structure that takes students through a sequential program building dramatic skills from grade to grade. This progression moves from improvisational story dramas into the use of literature-to-life techniques and finally onto the creation of original pieces of theatrical writing by students.

STAGE ONE: Kindergarten & First grades


In this residency students participate in interactive story dramas addressing human, social and curricular issues. Teaching artists work in role with students as characters within a story. As the story unfolds from week to week, students actively influence the outcome of the story as they explore multiple possibilities for resolving conflict. The emphasis of this residency is on community building and critical thinking skills. In addition, students are introduced to a basic vocabulary of theatre and the tools of dramatic play. Through this work students acquire tools to cope with conflict and develop their decision-making abilities while exploring consequences of their actions in a fictional context. This part of our programming is based on the process drama work of The Creative Arts Team in New York City.

STAGE TWO: Second & Third grades


In this residency students are guided through dramatic activities that explore the narrative story elements of setting, character, plot, and theme. Students actively engage with grade level texts, creating original dramatic presentations which bring children’s literature to life. This residency instructs students in essential drama skills such as physicalization, characterization, and improvisation as well as teaching the vocabulary of theatre and basic performance skills. Through the creation of a final presentation, students learn to work together as a supportive and cohesive group while building literacy and theatre skills.

STAGE THREE: Fourth & Fifth grades


In this final phase, students write their own pieces of original theatre. Throughout a series of playwriting exercises, students work on improvisation and character study while creating monologues, dialogues, and finally, short two-character plays. Through the interplay of theatre activities and guided writing exercises students develop their own unique writing styles within a theatrical form. This playwriting method is based on the work of the 52nd Street Project and Daniel Judah Sklar’s book Playmaking: Children Writing and Performing Their Own Plays.