Learning Exercise

Arts Education: Radio Drama Assignment

This assignment introduces students to the National Standards for Theater and offers online concrete examples of radio drama for them to discover and use in forming K-12 arts/drama lessons for their own students. The Mercury Theater on the Air provides an historical and cultural context for drama and technology use in 1930s America.
Course: EDCI 312: Arts Integration: EDTE 228A: Arts Methods

This site provides a collection of radio dramas from The Mercury Theater on the Air series in the 1930s. The show... see more


Arts Education: Radio Drama Assignment

Arts Education: Radio Drama Assignment

Featuring The Mercury Theater on the Air

Cris Guenter, Ed.D.

Department of Education

CSU, Chico

1. First visit the National Theatre Standards with related links at:

Reading through the National Theatre Standards will help you realize what is expected and what is appropriate for K-12 students to be learning and doing with drama at particular age levels. Target the grade level(s) for which you are developing lessons. Make written notes on the expectations and ideas that come to mind as you review the standards. Do this task before you do the next one. Knowing the standards will help give you ideas and responses for developing lessons from the radio drama information and examples below.

2. The Mercury Theatre on the Air at:


The finest radio drama of the 1930's was The Mercury Theatre on the Air, a
show featuring the acclaimed New York drama company founded by Orson
Welles and John Houseman. In its brief run, it featured an impressive array of
talents, including Agnes Moorehead, Bernard Herrmann, and George
Coulouris. The show is famous for its notorious War of the Worlds broadcast,
but the other shows in the series are relatively unknown. This site has many
of the surviving shows available in RealAudio format, and will eventually have
all of them. You may want to bookmark this site for future use with your students and family.

To gain an understanding of the historical and cultural context of radio drama and its appeal listen to the Theatre of the Imagination (1988) selection at the bottom of the list on the Mercury Theatre web page. The Theatre of the Imagination is a radio special about the Mercury Theatre on the Air hosted by Leonard Maltin, featuring interviews with the surviving members. It is 39 minutes long. You will discover what was developing with technology and the arts in the 1930s.

You may want to click on the Download Real Audio choice under the Theatre of the Imagination. That choice will download the file all at once to your desk top. Then you can listen to the entire file without having net congestion interuptions. It may take some minutes to download, but it is worth the wait. You can also click on Streaming (Real Audio) to listen to the file or you can select the MP3 option, if you have an MP3 player. The choice is yours.

Once you have reviewed the National Theater Standards and listened to the Theatre of the Imagination selection, share one new thing that you have learned about radio drama and any ideas that came to mind for integrating radio drama in the K-12 classroom. Use the notes you took while reviewing the National Theater Standards to help you. Make written references to particluar comments made in Theatre of the Imagination and the National Theater Standards to support your ideas for an arts or drama lesson. Indicate your target grade level(s). Post your repsonse with at least two thoughtful and reflective paragraphs using a designated bulletin board forum, listserve, or e-mail method established by your instructor. Proper writing and spelling skills are expected.

Your instructor will indicate when this assignment is due.


Technical Notes

This site features several audio files. You will need RealAudio/RealPlayer installed on your computer or an MP3 player to hear these files. You can listen through streaming audio or download the files for RealPlayer or MP3.


Beginning knowledge of lesson planning; awareness of development levels of learning in the K-12 environment


National Theater Standards; The Mercury Theater on the Air; Lesson planning ideas and connections

Learning Objectives

1. Student teachers will identify online National Theater Standards that are relevant to their lesson planning ideas for incorporating radio drama into the K-12 curriculum.
2. Student teachers will listen to a radio special that provides historical and cultural context for radio drama. They will then reflect online what they have learned and discovered from that broadcast.
3. Student teachers will summarize in writing, to a designated online format, ideas for lessons they can develop in classroom using radio drama.