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2020 CAS - Family and Community Guide for High School Drama and Theatre Arts

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for students studying high school drama and theatre arts. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

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Drama and Theatre Arts

The drama and theatre arts standards in the high school years focus on specific drama knowledge and skills and theatre elements to develop a solid foundation for specialized theatrical study (acting/character and script analysis, playwriting, technical theatre such as lights/sound/set and costume design, directing, and film studies). Through a variety of specialized theatre courses, students research, investigate, and perform numerous dramatic techniques and theatrical genres, such as scripted and improvisational works. They also examine character development and a variety of setting scenarios, develop ideas as playwrights, directors, designers, and technicians, describe their own personal preferences for drama and theatre works, and respectfully critique themselves and the performances of others.

Expectations for Students in the Fundamental Pathway:

  • Create: Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental vocal and movement techniques; demonstrate knowledge of a character and employ several strategies to understand the goals of a particular character; demonstrate fundamental knowledge of design and technology in all areas of technical theatre (lights/sound/set and costume design).
  • Perform: Rehearse and perform an original or scripted scene, play, or monologue; use previously acquired skills to demonstrate the ability to rehearse and exhibit fundamental vocal and purposeful movement techniques; participate as a member of a technical crew (lights/sound/set design/props) and management team and contribute ideas to the design of a production; demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship among the technical aspects of production, onstage performers, and audiences.
  • Critically Respond: Research the ways in which artists have used self-reflection to document and refine their work; identify and describe the influence of other artists on the development of their own artistic work; critique and evaluate artistic choices and personal reactions to dramatic presentations using guidelines for evaluating a theatrical production; demonstrate objectivity in assessing one’s personal abilities in creative endeavors and an ability to receive and act upon coaching feedback and constructive criticism.

Throughout the Fundamental Pathway, You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing character to help understand human behavior; researching numerous historical and inventive aspects of technical theatre to obtain a deeper understanding of the field; using design and technology to recreate environment, enhance a production, and bring a creative work to life.
  • Demonstrating the ability to create a believable dramatic portrayal as a performer and/or technician; participating as a member of a technical crew or management team.
  • Exploring how the production process impacts the final product; communicating effectively one's point of view regarding a character; discovering how theatre etiquette and ethics enhance the theatrical experience.


Expectations for Students in the Advanced Pathway:

  • Create (Create): Demonstrate knowledge of more advanced vocal and movement techniques; demonstrate strong knowledge and understanding of character qualities and points of view; employ strategies to discover the goals/intentions of a particular character, ways to overcome obstacles in the plot, and tactics to achieve the goals of a particular character; analyze, research, and design for technical theatre (lights/sound/set and costume design); employ a variety of performance techniques to create dramatic meaning.
  • Perform (Perform/Present): Portray a believable character in situations from scripted works; demonstrate the ability to rehearse and exhibit more advanced vocal and movement forms and skills; lead a technical crew in a production; implement a major design element (lights/sound/set and costume design) to enhance theatrical productions; apply knowledge of safety procedures and practices in the use of theatre equipment, tools, and raw materials.
  • Critically Respond (Know/Comprehend and Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Use problem-solving techniques to determine if another actor’s or one’s own performance is believable and truthful; make an informed decision about the quality of a theatrical production; reflect and revise critical choices pertaining to dramatic texts and performances while incorporating personal decisions/preferences; document and reflect on one’s own work, and identify successful approaches that could be applied in the development of future work.

Throughout the Advanced Pathway, You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing the script and making annotations to enhance character development; exploring alternative choices in technology to help convey a production concept; creating a promptbook (a master copy of the script containing details for the entire production such as actor and technical cues) and researching the background of a play to enhance the overall product.
  • Adjusting to other actors' decisions within a performance; assuming responsibility for the coordination of all aspects of a production by stage managing a theatrical event; writing a one-act play that includes fully developed characters, believable dialogue, and logical plot outcomes.
  • Making artistic choices based on research; devising specific methods for documenting and assessing one's own artistic development throughout participation in a drama or theatre project as a performer or technician; exploring quality scripted works to inform one's own playwriting.


Expectations for Students in the Professional Pathway:

  • Create: Apply and create vocal and movement techniques; portray character qualities and points of view; employ and refine strategies to discover the goals/intentions of a particular character, ways to overcome obstacles in the plot, and tactics to achieve the goals of a particular character; analyze, research, and design for technical theatre (lights/sound/set and costume design) for a production.
  • Perform: Portray a believable character from contemporary and classical scripted works; lead a technical crew in a production; implement a major design element (lights/sound/set and costume design) that aesthetically and conceptually elevates a theatrical production; apply knowledge of safety procedures and practices in the use of theatre equipment, tools, and raw materials.
  • Critically Respond: Use problem solving and communication techniques to determine if another actor’s or one’s own performance is believable and truthful; make an informed decision about the quality of a theatrical production based on social, cultural, and historical understandings; reflect and revise critical choices pertaining to dramatic texts and performances while incorporating personal decisions/preferences in connection to issues that may impact audiences; document and reflect on one’s own work, and incorporate successful approaches that could be applied in the development of future work.

Throughout the Professional Pathway, You May Find Students:

  • Leading peers in the implementation of interesting choices that enhance character development; committing to professionalism in rehearsal process; exploring alternative staging and design conventions to support a production concept; creating support materials that show in-depth process work, and researching the background of a play to enhance the overall product.
  • Seamlessly adjusting to other actors' decisions within a performance; assuming responsibility for the coordination of all design and technical aspects of a production; writing or directing a play that includes fully developed characters, believable dialogue, and logical plot outcomes.
  • Examining how the production process impacts the final product (through Socratic seminar, portfolio presentations, or audience feedback); communicating and connecting different points of view regarding a character and production concept.