Theatre History Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Walk your students through the history of theatre with this lesson plan. Students start by viewing a lesson outlining the history of theatre, then apply learning with an activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • list the major points of theatre's history
  • discuss attributes of the periods of theatre history
  • use vocabulary correctly as related to theatre history
  • discuss how theatre has changed and remained the same


  • 1 - 1.5 hours


  • Paper
  • Pencils, colored pencils
  • Poster board
  • Images of play posters

Key Vocabulary

  • Greeks
  • Chorus
  • Middle Ages
  • Mystery play
  • Miracle play
  • Allegory
  • Morality play
  • Renaissance
  • Molière
  • Christopher Marlowe
  • Ben Johnson
  • William Shakespeare
  • Romanticism
  • Melodrama
  • Realism
  • Absurdism
  • Theatre of the Absurd
  • Minority theatre
  • Modern theatre

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5

Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).


  • Engage students with the topic by asking them to share experiences at the theatre with a partner, then as a group.
  • Tell students that knowing about the history of theatre can help them understand aspects of performances. Preview vocabulary and share prior knowledge.
  • Prepare students for taking notes by having them divide their notebooks into six sections and label:
    • Primitive Theatre
    • Greek Theatre
    • The Middle Ages
    • The Renaissance
    • Romanticism & Realism
    • Modern Theatre
  • Instruct students to take notes about each category as the lesson plays.
  • Start the lesson video History of Drama: Dramatic Movements and Time Periods.
  • Pause after each section to allow students to complete notes and discuss main aspects and attributes. See 'Discussion Questions' for guidance.
  • Play the Lesson Summary and answer any questions.

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