History of Theater
Instructor Elizabeth Jewell discusses the history of theater from ancient Greece to the 20th century.
Introduction to Greek Drama
Instructor Elizabeth Jewell explains characteristics of Greek drama, including parts of the stage, the role of the chorus, costumes and set, and the role of drama in Greek life.
Playwriting: Marsha Norman
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman tells how and why she began writing plays and describes advice she received from Actors Theatre of Louisville Producing Director Jon Jory.
The Rehearsal Process: Heartbreak House
Directors and actors discuss and perform scenes from George Bernard Shaw's play Heartbreak House.
On Directing: George C. Wolfe
Actor Patrick Stewart talks about the important contributions a good director makes to a production.
Drama teacher Curt Tofteland leads students in several activities designed to encourage make believe and the flow of creative movement.
Controlling Creative Energy
Drama teacher Curt Tofteland leads students in an exploration of how actors use energy.
Anansi’s Rescue from the River | African/African-American Culture
In this video, storyteller Nana Yaa Asantewaa performs the story “Anansi’s Rescue from the River.” The Anansi tales are told by the Ashanti people of Ghana, West Africa, and have been passed down through the generations by oral tradition.
Bunraku | Japanese Culture
In this excerpt from a documentary on Bunraku, students meet an apprentice studying to be a puppeteer at Bunraku Theater in Osaka.
Greek Theater: Oedipus Rex
This is a reader’s theater performance of a scene from Oedipus Rex, generally regarded as the masterpiece work of the Greek tragedian Sophocles (circa 497-406 BCE).
This is a reader’s theater performance of part of Everyman, the best surviving example of the type of Medieval drama known as the morality play.
Allegory: Mummer’s Play
An allegory is a style of writing a fictional story in which details and characters represent something deeper and more significant. Mumming is an allegorical style that originated in England and traveled to Appalachia as an interlude in the...
Neo-Classicism: Tartuffe Scene 1
Tartuffe is an example of satire. This segment shows two scenes, performed in reader’s theater style, from this 1664 play by Moliere.
Neo-Classicism: Tartuffe Scene 2
Tartuffe is an example of satire. This segment shows two scenes, performed in reader’s theater style, from this 1664 play by Moliere.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin | The Civil War Era
This is a reader’s theater performance of a scene from George Aiken’s 19th-century dramatization of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Realism: A Doll’s House
This reader’s theater performance presents a scene from A Doll’s House, written in 1879. The play, by Henrik Ibsen, is a scathing criticism of the traditional roles of men and women in Victorian marriage.
American Musical Theater: The Glass Christmas Tree
This is a scene from a holiday musical written by Billy Edd Wheeler and Ewel Cornett. In the play, photographer Lewis Hine uses his camera in a glass factory to help the children who work there.
Contemporary American Theater: The Ryan Interview
This is a scene from a television version of The Ryan Interview, a short play by Arthur Miller, one of America’s foremost playwrights of the 20th century.
Contemporary American Theater: Interviews with Arthur Miller, Ashley Judd, and Eddie Bracken
Playwright Arthur Miller, actress Ashley Judd, and actor Eddie Bracken talk about Miller’s play The Ryan Interview.
State of Contemporary American Theater: Interview with Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller, one of the leading American playwrights of the 20th century, discusses the state of contemporary theater in the early 21st century.
State of Contemporary American Theater: The Importance of Regional Theater
This segment profiles the New American Play Festival at Actors Theater of Louisville. The theater’s staff, directors, and actors talk about the importance of regional theater.
Jemima Boone | Drama Based on Historical Characters
In this video, viewers watch a scene from a play about the daughter of famous Kentucky pioneer Daniel Boone.
Staging Historical Drama: As It Is In Heaven
This segment offers a behind-the-scenes look as the University of Kentucky Theatre Department prepares for a production of As It Is in Heaven, a play by Arlene Hutton about Shaker women at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, in the 1830s.
Dramatic Interpretation of Literature: The Tell-Tale Heart
Actor Kevin Hardesty gives a dramatic reading of a passage from the Edgar Allan Poe story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The text is shown on screen alongside his performance.
Bringing a Theatrical Work to Television
This segment shows preparation for a KET taping of a Stage One production of The Wind in the Willows. Included are technical preparations such as stringing cable and setting cameras and interviews with the lighting designer, audio supervisors, and...
A Brand New Circus
This segment is the opening to Liz’s Circus Story, a one-woman play about a young woman’s experiences working for a small traveling circus.
This scene is from a one-woman play called Liz’s Circus Story. The play is based on a young woman’s experience working for a small traveling circus.
Circus of Lost Souls
This is a segment from a one-woman play called Liz’s Circus Story. The story is about a woman’s experience working for a small traveling circus and is based on a true story.
What Is Kabuki? | Japanese Culture
In this video Shozo Sato, a Kabuki master, presents students with an overview of Kabuki, pointing out major characteristics such as male actors, stylized acting, and audience.
Kabuki Actor’s Technique | Japanese Culture
Shozo Sato describes Kabuki acting technique and the training that Kabuki performers, traditionally all male, go through in order to learn how to play male, female, young, and old characters.
Kabuki Makeup | Japanese Culture
In this video, Kabuki master Shozo Sato applies makeup to actor Michael Goldberg as he discusses about how makeup is applied and how colors and lines help suggest character.
Kabuki Fan Symbolism | Japanese Culture
In this video, Kabuki master Shozo Sato discusses the origin of fan use in Kabuki theater and demonstrates the common usage and symbolism of the various fan movements, using the fan to represent a tray, a sunrise, the wind,...
Shakespeare Meets Kabuki: Scene Introduction | Japanese Culture
In this segment Shozo Sato explains why he created "American Kabuki" to help Americans understand and appreciate this art form and why he chose to use Shakespeare to introduce Western audiences to Kabuki theater.
Scene from Macbeth Kabuki-Style | Japanese Culture
In this segment, actors Michael Goldberg and Barbara Robertson perform the scene from Macbeth in which Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plot the murder of Duncan. The text used by the actors in this video was adapted to better suit...
Japanese Aesthetics | Japanese Culture
In this video, Shozo Sato provides a brief overview of Japanese aesthetics and explains the major differences between Western and Japanese aesthetics.
Wind in the Willows: Toad and His Horse
In this excerpt from Stage One’s adaptation of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Toad fantasizes about owning a horse, eliciting a variety of reactions from his forest friends Otter, Mole, and Rat.
Wind in the Willows: The Motor Car
In this excerpt from the Stage One adaptation of the children’s classic The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Toad, Otter, Mole, and Rat go for a picnic at the high road.
J. Daniel Herring of Stage One introduces this scene from the production of Pinocchio, telling viewers to pay particular attention to the costumes. In keeping with commedia dell’arte style, they are stock costumes in black and white with other...
Appleseed John: Ragdoll-Come-to-Life
This segment shows a scene from a play set in the 1820s. The play follows Abby, a young girl growing up in the American frontier. In this scene, Abby and her favorite rag doll meet John Chapman, better known...
The Great Gilly Hopkins
J. Daniel Herring of Stage One sets up two scenes from Stage One’s production of The Great Gilly Hopkins. In addition, he discusses acting and ways in which characters must transform in the course of a play.
J. Daniel Herring of Stage One sets up the closing scene from the Stage One production of Frankenstein with comments on how lighting, set, and sound create important effects in production.
Shakespeare: Scene from Hamlet
Kevin Hardesty performs the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy from Act III, Scene I of the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet.
Shakespeare: Scene from Much Ado About Nothing
The main plot in this Shakespearean comedy revolves around the young lovers Claudio and Hero and the obstacles to their marriage. This scene, however, features the more mature lovers from the play’s sub-plot—Beatrice and Benedick—and their “merry war.”
Written and performed by high school students, this ingenious one-act play shows two teenagers exploring their complicated feelings about each other. The teens explore the confusion they feel about this new development in their relationship.
Words Like Freedom | The Civil War Era
In this video, Dhana Bradley Donaldson and Priscilla Hancock Cooper present a “poetic concert” featuring the words of three African-American writers.
The Two Gals | Kentucky/Appalachian Culture
In this video, storyteller Anndrena Belcher tells the story of two sisters, one kind and compassionate, the other lazy and greedy, and their separate adventures in a land they discover at the bottom of their well.
Little Deer and Mother Earth | Native American Culture
In this video Marilou Awiakta, of Cherokee/Appalachian heritage, tells a traditional Cherokee story in which humans are killing too many of their animal relatives, threatening the delicate balance of nature.
Cat and Rat
In this Appalachian story, the rat loses his tail to the cat in a game of mumblety-peg. Storytellers Tom Bledsoe and Rich Kirby tell the story through the various characters the rat meets as he tries to get his...
The Buzzard and the Monkey
John O’Neal, performing as the legendary character Junebug Jabbo Jones, tells a classic “why” story. This story explains why the buzzard eats only things that are already dead.
Little Jack and Big Jack
Roadside Theater performs a humorous Appalachian tale about Little Jack, who saves his brother, Big Jack, by outwitting the King. This is a classic “Jack Tale” featuring a universal character who can be found in the tales of many...
The Power of Storytelling
Storyteller Anndrena Belcher discusses the relevance of storytelling today. She explains why people should learn their family stories.
Theater Basics: Off the Stage
This collection of videos follows On the Verge’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard from first reading of the script through final dress rehearsal. On the Verge founder Ave Lawyer and members of the cast discuss their process...
This glossary combines with high-quality teaching resources to bring the excitement of the theater into the classroom. Teachers and students can use the definitions and word wall printouts below to better speak the language of the stage.
Creating Props – Lesson Plan
Students create a stick horse and role-play selling it to Toad.
Pantomime – Lesson Plan
Students pantomime a scene from Pinocchio.
Creating Costume Vests – Lesson Plan
Students create paper vests that suit the characters of Mole, Rat, Toad, and Otter. They use science skills to investigate the real-life animals and literary skills to analyze the fictional characters.
Kentuckians in Theater
What kinds of jobs and careers are available in theater, and what does it take to be a theater professional? Check out this resource to get the who, what, when, where, how, and why straight from theater people with...
Tour of the Theater
A photographic tour onstage, backstage, and in the house.
Liz’s Circus Story
An autobiographical one-woman play. Kentuckian Liz Bussey Fentress performs her one-woman play based on her experiences working for a brand-new one-ring circus.
Chain Reactions – Idea File
Using video and stories, students explore how one event may trigger other events, creating a story line.
Creating Characters: Movement – Idea File
Students compare two characters and role-play how they would perform various actions.
Creating Characters: Voice – Idea File
Students compare two characters in a story and say the same phrases while pretending to be the different characters.
Props and Costumes – Idea File
Students explore how props and costumes help tell the story in a dramatic performance.
Observing To Make Meaning – Idea File
After watching without sound, students write a plot summary of the excerpt from Pinocchio. Students then review the video with sound and compare perceptions.
Japanese Theater Traditions – Idea File
Students research styles of Japanese theater and present findings.
Jobs in Theater – Idea File
Students explore various jobs in theater and show what they’ve learned through posters, collages, or PowerPoint® presentations.
In Their Own Words – Idea File
Students research, write, and perform monologues from the point of view of an artist from a period in history.
Reading Dramatic Parts – Lesson Plan
After viewing the story of “The Cat and the Rat,” students will retell the story as a dramatic reading. Students will create characters through vocal expression.
Comparing Technical Elements – Lesson Plan
Students compare two dramatic excerpts and plan a production of a folktale, legend, or fable.
Theater Jobs and Drama Elements – Lesson Plan
Students electronically visit a Kentucky theater company and explore jobs and drama elements.
Characterization and Culture – Lesson Plan
Students analyze a storytelling performance and create their own.
Character – Lesson Plan
Students analyze two scenes from The Great Gilly Hopkins and write their own scripts based on a short scene from the novel.
This collection of video clips on the history of theater, the creative process, and theater production is included in the Drama Arts Toolkit.
Aspects of Drama Part 1: Creative Dramatics
Aspects of Drama included in the Drama Arts Toolkit 2nd Edition contains a diverse array of video clips, from activities to performances and readings. The first pair of videos, taken from KET’s Imagine That series, model creative dramatics exercises...
Aspects of Drama Part 3: Cultures, Periods, and Styles
The videos in this section of the Aspects of Drama include performances, documentary segments, and interviews spotlighting drama from a wide array of cultures, historical time periods, and styles.
Aspects of Drama Part 4: Drama Across the Curriculum
These performance and rehearsal excerpts include examples of historical drama and dramatic interpretation of literature, a segment on developing a theatrical work for television, and a complete 60-minute electronic field trip.
This collection of video clips about the traditions, techniques, and aesthetics of Japanese Kabuki theater is included in the Drama Arts Toolkit.
This collection of video clips from student and professional theatrical productions is included in the Drama Arts Toolkit.
This collection of video clips on storytelling, including examples from master storytellers, is included in the Drama Arts Toolkit.
Acting Exercises and Improv Scenes
Acting exercises including dramatic obstacles, improv exercises, and suggested improv scenes.
Elements of Drama – Lesson Plan
Students explore plot development and rising action, turning point, and falling action by viewing a short play written and performed by high school students.
Comparing Literary Elements of Drama – Lesson Plan
Students watch two video excerpts from dramatic performances and compare character development, plot development, conflict, and resolution in the two pieces.
Performance Spaces and the Production Process – Lesson Plan
Students learn how a performing arts center operates and the process of creating a performance.
Characteristics of Greek Theater – Lesson Plan
Students explore Greek drama, research Greek playwrights and plays, and present scenes from Greek plays.
Character Motivation – Lesson Plan
Students analyze one of Shakespeare’s protagonists/antagonists and present a monologue or video to demonstrate a personal interpretation of character motivation and experience.
Achieving Effects with Set, Lights, and Sound – Lesson Plan
Students analyze the use of set, lights, and sound in a play and create a set, lighting, and sound design to interpret another dramatic work.
Creating a Historical Setting – Lesson Plan
Students analyze and evaluate how production elements can create a historical setting.
Analyzing a Soliloquy – Lesson Plan
Students analyze a famous Shakespearean soliloquy for meaning, language, and context and select and perform a Shakespearean soliloquy.
Exploring Careers in Theater – Lesson Plan
Students discuss lessons learned from the lives of Kentucky playwrights Marsha Norman and George C. Wolfe and, following the playwrights’ advice, draw from their own life experiences to develop short plays.
Exploring History Through Poetry – Lesson Plan
Students research the historical references in “Alabama Centennial” and create an informational presentation explaining the references in the poem.
Exploring Technical Elements – Lesson Plan
Students explore the use of an element of drama in a theatrical production and collaborate to share their findings on a poster.
Electronic Field Trip to the Kentucky Opera
This field trip takes students behind the scenes at an opera to learn a little bit about opera, careers in opera, and how a production comes together.
Attending a live performance is an important and exciting part of learning about the arts. For many students, class field trips may be their first experience in a theater or performance hall. They may not be aware of what...