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Lesson Plans Library 6-8 > Fine Arts
Careers On Stage and On Air
Careers On Stage and On Air
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Fine Arts Duration: 3 class periods

lesson plan support
Student Objectives
  • Identify careers in the theater and understand their primary responsibilities.
  • Describe tasks and challenges involved in a career by performing that role in a classroom play.
  • Careers On Stage and On Airvideo
  • Computer with Internet access
  1. Ask students if they've ever been part of a play or theatrical production. What role did they have? Talk about how, although the actors are the most visible participants in a play, many people behind the scenes are involved. These roles are also careers for people who love the theater. In fact, actors may choose a related career later on. Discuss the following roles, noting that these are just a few of the many people involved in putting on a production:
    • Director: Interprets the script and sets the vision of the play. Directs actors as to how to perform their roles, providing instructions regarding their movement and body language, tone, and expressions to clearly convey the work to the audience.
    • Playwright: Writes the script for the play, including stage directions and dialogue.
    • Actor: Performs a role in a play using the words of the playwright, as well as specific movements, tones, and expressions.
    • Set designer: Designs the scenery of the production, such as props and backdrops, to convey a setting and mood for the play.
    • Costume designer: Designs costumes worn by the actors that will help convey their role, as well as the time and place of the play.
    • Stage manager: Supervises all backstage activities, making sure actors and others work together and know their cues; makes sure that the set and props are on stage at the correct time.
    • Sound technician: In charge of the audio, including the voices of the actors, live sound effects, and prerecorded sound effects or musical recordings.
    • Lighting technician: Designs and carries out the lighting for the play; uses light to define the setting and mood of the play.
  2. Tell students that they'll take on some of these roles. Their assignment will be to work in groups to produce and perform a simple play: a single scene from a well-known fairy tale. Within each group, students will select one role. For the rest of this period, they will select a scene, choose roles, and write the scene. During the next period, they'll rehearse and develop a simple set and costumes. During the third period, they'll perform their scene for the other group.
  3. Have each group choose a fairy tale and a scene. To save time, you may want to make suggestions:
    • Goldilocks and the Three Bears:When the three bears come home and Goldilocks sleeping in baby bear's bed.
    • Three Little Pigs:When the wolf tries to blow down the third pig's house, which is made of bricks.
    • Little Red Riding Hood:When the little girl reaches her grandmother's house and finds the wolf dressed up like her grandmother.
    • Cinderella:When the prince goes to Cinderella's house looking for the girl whose foot will fit inside the glass slipper.
    • The Tortoise and the Hare:When the hare crosses the finish line first.
    • Hansel and Gretel:When the witch tries to lure Gretel into the oven, but the little girl tricks the witch into getting into the oven herself.
  4. Once students have selected a scene, have them select the tasks each one will perform in the production. (Depending on the size of the group, some students may need to take on more than one role, or more than one student can take on a single role, such as playwright or set designer.) Encourage students to help each other, no matter their roles. (For example, the playwright has responsibility for the script and the final dialogue, so he or she should work closely with the group. Have them review what happens in the scene to help the playwright create a general outline of stage directions and dialogue. As the group is discussing the play, remind students to note what kinds of props, costumes, set design, lighting, and sounds will be needed.)
  5. Give each group a box of simple materials for the set, props, costumes, lighting, and sound. Encourage them to think about how they might use these materials and anything else they might need to bring in the next day. Remind them to keep it simple. Here are a few suggestions for materials you could provide:
    • Set and props: posterboard, markers, paint, old sheet, streamers, empty paper towel rolls
    • Costumes: paper bag, markers, a few pieces of fabric, ribbons
    • Lighting: flashlight and several pieces of color cellophane or tissue paper
    • Sound: coffee can, sand paper, "play" megaphone, balloons
  6. During the next period, have the group rehearse the play. At the same time, the set designer and costume designer should be working on their tasks. Have the groups come together for a quick dress rehearsal at the end of the period.
  7. During the final period, have the groups perform their scenes. Then ask them to talk about the importance of each role. What would the play have been like without a set designer, playwright, or director? What did students enjoy most about their roles? What did they find most challenging?
  8. Conclude by discussing other theater careers: producers, makeup artists, hairdressers, understudies, producers, fight directors, choreographers, casting directors, dialect coaches, musicians, and theatrical carpenters. In addition, many careers related to the theater may not be in the productions, such as theater critics, theater historians, publicity teams, publication editors, agents, acting coaches, theater managers, and box office managers.
  9. The following sites provide more information about careers in the theater:

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • 3 points: Students identified several careers in the theater; showed a strong understanding of the primary responsibilities of each career; worked well within their groups to carry out one role in a classroom production.
  • 2 points: Students identified a few careers in the theater; showed a satisfactory understanding of the primary responsibilities of each career; worked well within their groups to carry out one role in a classroom production.
  • 1 point: Students identified few or no careers in the theater; showed a weak understanding of the primary responsibilities of each career; had difficulty working in their groups to carry out one role in a classroom production.

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fight director
Definition:Someone who choreographs the movement of actors to portray a fight or struggle in a performance; coaches actors performing those movement.
Context:Fight directors assist performers with everything from a slap in the face to an all-out brawl.

Definition:With a limited ability to hear
Context:Michelle was deeply moved by Helen Keller's story, and she decided to help hearing-impaired children learn to communicate.

radio personality
Definition:Someone who hosts a radio show
Context:Radio personalities impress us with their voices and their ability to speak.

technical director
Definition:Someone who coordinates activities such as taping, editing, and engineering to produce radio program
Context:Stephanie works with a technical director who operates the recording and editing equipment.

voice coach
Definition:Someone who helps performers improve the volume, tone, expression, and quality of their singing or speaking voices
Context:Someone who helps performers improve the volume, tone, expression, and quality of their singing or speaking voices

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Academic Standards
Consortium of National Arts Education Associations
The Consortium of National Arts Education Associations has developed national guidelines for what students should know and be able to do in the arts. To view the standards online, go
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Theater: Script writing by the creation of improvisations and scripted scenes based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history
  • Theater: Acting by developing basic acting skills to portray characters who interact in improvised and scripted scenes
  • Theater: Designing by developing environments for improvised and scripted scenes
  • Theater: Directing by organizing rehearsals for improvised and scripted scenes

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