The ancient Greeks were one of the most powerful and influential civilisations in history. For students learning about ancient Greece, theatre activities are an innovative way to teach children about this significant civilisation. Give students creative Greek theatre activities for the classroom and make a lesson in history enjoyable and memorable.
Greek Tragedy Dramatization
Use this activity as a creative addition to a lesson on Greek tragedies. Divide the class into groups of three to five students and ask them to re-enact the Greek tragedy of their choice. For example, a group of students may choose to re-enact the Greek myth of Medusa or Pandora's Box. Ask them to write a simplified version of the tragedy and act it out for the class. Instruct every student to play a part in the play as a narrator or actor.
Teach students about the importance of expression and exaggeration in ancient Greek theatre with a mask-making project. Begin the lesson by discussing characteristics of ancient Greek theatre, emphasising the use of masks. Ask each student to decide what emotion he wishes to portray in his mask such as anger, sadness or happiness. Give the students time to sketch what the masks will look like before creating them. Students can use paper maché and paint to create the masks and make the represented emotion obvious.
Students can use their imaginations and pretend that they are exploring ancient Greece with this activity. Instruct the students to act as if they have all travelled through time to ancient Greece to attend the Dionysia. Ask them to research this important festival, focusing on the theatrical performances of tragedies and comedies. Instruct the students to write firsthand accounts of what they saw and experienced during the festival: Which famous tragedies or comedies were performed? What did the amphitheatre look like? How were the actors dressed? Divide the class into small groups and ask the students to share what they wrote with their classmates.
Students can practice their creative writing skills by writing their own Greek play. Begin the lesson by explaining key terms and concepts of ancient Greek theatre such as hubris, tragic hero, Greek chorus and catharsis. Instruct the students to adapt a modern-day story or invent their own and write a play according to the ancient Greek style. Ask the students to pick at least one element of ancient Greek theatre to include in their play. This project can be completed individually or in a small group. If the project is done in small groups, the students can perform their plays for the class when they are completed.