19th Century Theatre


Students will demonstrate their understanding of 18th and 19th century theatrical practices by creating and performing a commedia dell’arte piece and working on constructing group presentations on 19th century plays and playwrights.to



Materials Needed

see lesson



Related Documents

• 19th Century Worksheet  Lesson9.19thCenturyTheatreWorksheet
• Commedia Characters and Vocab  Lesson9.CommediaCharactersandVocab
• Lecture Notes   Lesson9.LectureNotes



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
Physicalizing Commedia: Have students spread around the class, allowing themselves adequate space.
Using the provided character descriptions, describe the character to the class and ask them to give you an exaggerated pose. Ask them next while still in the pose to talk like the character. Now have them move around as the character. Have them find the character’s pattern which will become a ‘stylized’ walk which will lead to a special ‘signature’ movement that they will use when entering scenes. Remember that we are working on a high level of energy here to be able to do this kind of theatre, even more than you used for your partner pantomimes.




Instruction: Let’s review the elements we said were necessary for performing their pieces: Disgraceful romances that are thwarted by an old father; usually Pantaloni or Arccialetto or a gossipy widow, clever tricks to get money, comment on current society and its problems, the outwitting of some simpleton, improve., a hero mistaken for the villain, plotting maids, long lost children, bragging captains, funny moments, song, dance, juggling, father and son fighting over the same woman, for various reasons, etc. The students are given 10 minutes to meet with their groups and group leaders to review what they have planned for their Commedia dell’arte piece.




Each group will then be given the time to perform for the class on the stage. Each student should have brought a mask of some sort with them. Those students acting as the audience will make note of the different elements of commedia that they saw manifest in the roll.



Checking for Understanding:

After each performance, the class will discuss the notes that they made. The group performing will also talk about the difficulties of doing this type of theatre. What worked, and what didn’t?




While we have talked about the very important movement of commedia that started in Italy and worked its way through to France, England, Spain and other parts of Europe, we have to remember that the 19th century encompassed so much more than just that.



Guided Practice:

Lecture and class discussion taken from the following notes: Timeline Vocabulary: Gaslight, Limelight, melodrama, the method, Dramatic Copyright Act of 1833, star system of the 1840’s, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
See attached lecture notes on 19th century:



Independent Practice:

You should have brought your homework assignments with of the summaries of 19th century playwrights and important works. Each group will pair up, talk about what they learned and share their ideas with the group. Your task is to find a way to present this playwright and his works to us in an interesting way.




Closure and Assessment: Each group needs to complete the worksheet (enclosed) and turn it into the instructor for grading. They need to gather whatever materials are necessary for their group presentations on Tuesday.