(Notes, Questions, Answers, etc.)

Essential Understandings – Theatre Arts III

TETA Curriculum Committee



Like the ELAR TEKS, the Theatre TEKS build on one another from K-12. The skills and processes become increasingly more complex as students move from grade to grade. When a student graduates from high school having spent several years in a Theatre Arts classroom, they should have conceptualized much of the knowledge and skills into processes and finally, “essential understandings”.  Hopefully, we are teaching skills and knowledge to move students toward independent performance, evaluation, and creation in theatre.


Esteemed curriculum experts have provided definitions for some of these terms:


Skills: The specific competencies required for complex process performance. Skills need to be taught directly and practiced in context.


Processes: Complex performances drawing on a variety of skills. Process abilities develop within the individual and grow in sophistication over time.


(Erikson, H. Lynn. Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction: Teaching Beyond the Facts. Corwin Press, Inc. Thousand Oaks, California. 2002)


Essential Understandings: “… conceptually based statements that teachers invent or borrow and use as a guiding light to design curriculum and instruction that derive from standards. As Wiggins and McTighe (1998) state, ‘Enduring refers to the big ideas, the important understandings, that we want students to ‘get inside of’ and retain after they’ve forgotten many of the details. . . . Enduring understandings go beyond discrete facts or skills to focus on larger concepts, principles, or processes’ (p. 10).”


(Definition is a merger of definitions from several curriculum experts including H.Lynn Erikson [see above] as well as Wiggins and McTighe’s (1998) prominent work Understanding by Design)


As theatre artists and educators, it is imperative that we teach theatre with the “essential understanding” as our goal no matter what level or course we are teaching.  As an artist, what are your essential understandings of theatre?



Find below the “Essentials” for Theatre Arts III as defined by the TETA Curriculum Committee during the Spring and Summer of 2015:













Theatre is a complex art form requiring the development of relationships among its components.

·         Plot and Structure

·        Examination of

Voice and Body preparation

·         Defining the uniqueness of theatre

·        Memorization


1 A-G

Personal and collaborative creativity in theatre is marked by analysis and experimentation.

·         Examine the creative process

·         Character Analysis

·         Creating and writing scripts

·         Integrating art forms

·         Vocal and physical techniques for production and character

·         Apply elements of plot

2 A-F

Creativity in the director requires recognition and understanding of all theatrical components.

·         Analyzing the technical needs of a script.

·         Casting a scene

·         Directing a scene

·         Apply elements of plot


3 A-C

Collaborative problem solving is an element of creativity in theatre.

·         Performing a role/job in a production

·         Developing discipline and creative problem solving in all aspects of theatre

·        Production skills

·        Directorial skills

·         Actor skills

3 D-E

Theatre is an art form that has influenced society and impacted cultural heritage throughout time.

·         Evaluate historical and culture influences on theatre

·         Analyze, apply and evaluate the impact of theatre and other media on society and culture


·         Research skills

·         Identify key figures, contributions and events in theatrical history and significantly in the U.S.

4 A-F

A theatre artist recognizes their own creativity and applies their knowledge to evaluating artistic forms.

·         Evaluate personal creativity

·         Using appropriate vocabulary, evaluate performances

·         Compare the communication methods of art forms

·         Apply audience etiquette

·         Apply theatrical vocabulary

·        Recognition of elements of other artistic forms


5 A-D

Theatre is a vital choice for a lifetime of enriching employment or leisure time.

·         Evaluate careers and opportunities for self

·         Analyze the skills and knowledge needed for future careers and opportunities

·         Connect theatre skills and knowledge to opportunities outside of theatre

·         Using technology to create a resume or portfolio

·         Apply technology skills

·        Recognize and use portfolios, journals and resumes

5 E-H