7. History


Perhaps the easiest subject to incorporate theatre into is history and vise versa. In order to understand theatre, it is important to understand the history of theatre. And by extension the history of the world, theatre is a reflection of society so how can I fully understand what theatre of different times was about with out understanding what was going on in the world at that time. Rather than sitting in a dry history class, theatre history teaches how and why theatre was happening at certain times in history. Though plays from that historical age you can see how the people of that time thought and acted. Plays that are performed from certain eras bring light to what was happening at those times in a way that a history book only dreams it could. Reading about theatre history is essential to understand how the art developed and is developing. Why plays are the way they are today, why Shakespeare’s are still studied. Half the standards of learning for the state of Virginia for the Theatre 2 are based in the history of the art. The only way to truly understand they art is to understand history.

It is just as easy to incorporate theatre into the history classroom. The use of drama has been used over the course of history from the time of Aristotle, who believed that theatre provided people a way to release emotions, right to the beginning of the progressive movement in education, where emphasis was placed upon “doing” rather than memorizing. Integrating drama helps children in various ways. Instead of lecturing on a time period you can give students a simple in class project to act it out to teach the rest of the class about their section. The following quote and citation from an education resource called “A Cross-Curricular Exercise”.

“History is drama. It’s full of character and conflict. Have you ever read a chapter from a history textbook that talked about a peaceful group of people who just went about their lives without struggle or conflict or hunger or war for hundreds of years? I haven’t. Portray historical figures from the time period you’re studying. Assign a different historical figure to each student and stage improvised conversations where they meet one another. How would Henry VIII speak to a butcher? What would a Confederate soldier say if he found out his best friend was fighting for the North? Stage an historical event. Write and perform a short scene based on something you’re studying in history. Write and stage a spoof of that event. Find a piece of theatre that was popular during the time period you’re studying. What do we think of this play now? Why was it popular in its day? What types of people would have been at the play? Royalty? Peasants? Both?”[1] This is a wonderful blog that gives many suggestions on how to integrate different curriculum into theatre classes and vice versa. The suggestions for history are particular helpful to get students involved in history. If you can get students up, moving, and involved they respond better to the lessons. This is something that theatre always can give students but it makes a bigger impact when these tactics are employed in classrooms where students do not normally get the chance to get out of their seats. Most effective for the lessons that hold the most weight that have to be built upon so the base knowledge is important. When these tactics and lessons are engaged in these ways they can have the most impact on a students education.

[1] Mason, Craig. “Teach Any Lesson Through Drama.” The Theatrefolk Blog. DISQUS, 27 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.