Jesus Christ Superstar Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn about the Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar. They will analyze a scene through performance, and discuss the playwright's choices.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the major characters and plot points of Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Debate the artistic choices of Webber and Rice
  • Critically analyze, through performance, a scene from the play

Length

2-3 class periods

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.9

Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.6

Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 9-10 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

Materials

  • Copies of Lesson Quiz
  • Scripts of scenes from Jesus Christ Superstar

Instructions

  • Ask your students to take a moment to think about live theater. Ask them to shout out some of the common themes that come to mind.
    • What do important plays tend to be about? What sort of emotions do they make you feel? What are common struggles, themes, or issues you've seen in plays?
    • What do playwrights tend to use as source material? Why do you think playwrights draw from history or popular culture?
  • Begin video lesson Jesus Christ Superstar: Summary & Characters. Pause video at 3:47 and discuss.
    • What is the source material that influenced Jesus Christ Superstar? What role has the Christian Bible played in Western cultures and art?
    • Who are the characters in Jesus Christ Superstar? Why are each of these characters significant?
    • Why do you think Webber and Rice chose to focus on the relationship between Christ and Judas? Why do you think they chose to tell this story from Judas' perspective?
    • Is the story of the Crucifixion generally told with Judas as a tragic hero, or as a villain?
  • Resume lesson. Pause at 5:23 and discuss.
    • What happens in Act One? What role have the major characters played so far?
    • Why do you think Webber and Rice focus on these aspects of this story? How do you think this is setting up things to come?
  • Resume and complete video.
    • How does to story unfold? How do Webber and Rice present each of the major characters?
    • What are Judas' motivations?
    • Now that we know how the play ends, has it changed your opinion on why Webber and Rice decided to make Judas the main character? What has been achieved in this?
  • You may test student understanding with Lesson Quiz.

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