The TExES Theatre EC – 12 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to teach theatre at any grade level in the Texas public school system. This exam assesses the individual’s knowledge of the skills and techniques required to create, produce, and perform theatrical productions, theatre design techniques, technical theatre techniques, theatre history, theatre culture, methods of analyzing theatre, and other similar topics. This exam is required in order for an individual to become certified as an entry-level theatre teacher in the state of Texas. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Creating, Performing and Producing Theatre (25%)
- Design and Technical Theatre (31%)
- Theatre History and Culture (13%)
- Responding To and Analyzing Theatre (13%)
- Theatre Education (19%)
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The Theatre EC – 12 Exam is offered in a computer-based format and the registration fee for the exam is $131. However, there may be other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry-level theatre teacher within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss aesthetic perception.
Aesthetics is the area of philosophy that studies the nature and expression of beauty and people’s instinctive reaction to the fine arts. In Kantian philosophy, aesthetics is the part of metaphysics that studies the laws of perception. Aesthetic perception is the experience of a beautiful sensation, especially through sight and sound. Perception is knowledge gained through insight and intuition. Aesthetic perception is the ability to appreciate and understand the nature, beauty, and validity of the fine arts, including music, painting, sculpture, theater, drama, comedy and literature. A person who is especially sensitive to beauty, and consistently exhibits good taste as defined by the prevailing concept of the fine arts, is said to have aesthetic perception. The English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead observed, “Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.” Dialogues, June 10, 1943.
2. Discuss creative expression.
Creativity is the ability to produce a work of art (music, painting, sculpture, comedy, drama, literature) that is original and imaginative. To express something is to convey an idea, an emotion, or an opinion, or to create a direct or indirect representation of an idea, emotion or opinion. The representation can be in words, sounds, pictures, gestures, signs and/or symbols. A person with a taste for creative expression has the burning need to bring forth a unique manifestation of his or her understanding and interpretation of mankind’s primal desires. A soaring music score by Beethoven, a memorable scene by Grandma Moses, a gentle poem by Emily Dickinson, and a moving performance by Sir Laurence Olivier are all examples of individual creative expression by artists of uncompromising vision. It should be noted, however, that every person is capable of creative expression.
3. Discuss the four types of theme used in all fine art.
The creative ideas presented in any type of media (visual, oral, or written) can be summarized in four basic types of theme. Through the ages, every tale ever told, written, or sung has dealt with one of these types of themes. The four types of theme are:
- UNIVERSAL THEMES encompass feelings, situations and characters that all people everywhere experience. It doesn’t matter what country, culture or age, every human being understands and relates to these themes.
- TIMELY THEMES are feelings, situations and characters that people have experienced throughout recorded history. Inhabitants of medieval times as well as Elizabethan England, and even the ancient Greek and Roman emperors, would relate just the same as the current population does.
- BROAD THEMES are supported by specific examples of feelings, situations, and characters that affect cultures, countries, and governments.
- SHARED THEMES connect diverse elements into an intricate mosaic that touches people everywhere, in every culture and every age.
4. Discuss the importance of themes in all art forms.
The four themes (universal, timely, broad, and shared) are important in all forms of art. Themes help the artist, musician, writer, sculptor or architect organize ideas and concepts into a coherent whole. They present a perspective beyond the individual and his own cultural experiences, and help him connect with people in other parts of the world who have a different perspective. It encourages understanding of the similarities in the human experience. Themes connect current events to history and enable readers, viewers and listeners to learn from the past. Since art’s function is to communicate, studying earlier works of art along with the history of the era in which they were created helps current society not only to understand past civilizations but to apply lessons learned long ago to contemporary issues.
5. Define theater, drama and comedy.
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines theater as “dramatic or comedic literature or other such material performed by actors impersonating characters through dialogue and action.” Theater is from the Greek theatron, which means “place of seeing.” It is a dynamic, performing art in which men and women use actions and words to tell a story to other people. It is sometimes called “a window into the human condition.” Theater, in one form or another, has existed since man began, because humans like telling stories.
The dictionary defines drama as “verbal literature composed of serious subject matter written specifically to be performed by actors in the theater and on television, radio or film.” It is from a Greek word that means “act” or “deed.” According to Aristotle, drama imitates man’s actions. It often has an unhappy ending. The dictionary defines comedy as “humorous or satirical verbal literature depicting funny themes, situations or characters that is written to be performed by actors in the theater and on television, radio or film.” It provides amusement for the audience and usually has a happy ending.
6. Give a brief history of early theater.
The passion plays performed in Ancient Egypt are the earliest recorded theater productions. They were tied to religious ceremonies and festivals. The Ancient Greeks formalized theatrical performances, introduced criticism, accepted acting as a career and developed theater architecture. Both used mythological creatures to tell their stories. Medieval productions used the vernacular of the country in which they were written and performed. The mystery plays enacted by traveling troubadours continued to have a religious theme. Events began to depict stories of kings and other heroes that provided both entertainment and propaganda.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, authors began writing in iambic pentameter; some of the stories came from Greek and Roman mythology. They celebrated historical figures and some historians believe plays were written to enhance the image of the Tudor monarchy.
Opera began during the Renaissance as a way to revive classic Greek drama. Music and drama were combined and gradually grew into the format still used today. Opera has undergone many changes over the years but is still a powerful performance medium.
7. Give a brief history of Oriental and Indian theater.
Chinese opera dates back to the Tang Dynasty in the eighth century. Emperor Xuanzong founded the first opera group, known as the Pear Garden, whose sole function was to perform for him. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, variety plays (Zaju) began using rhymes and specific roles. The Beijing opera introduced string and percussion instruments, which added a strong beat to the action and dialogue. It is still very popular in China.
Japanese theater combined drama, music and dance. The form developed throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Japanese No drama is serious and was always performed by men. It has official support from the government, and is particularly popular with the military. Kyogen is the comic form. It concentrates on the lyrics and uses less music.
Theater in India can be traced back to the third-century BC. The dramas dealt with human concerns and appeasement of the gods as described in the Rigveda, an ancient collection of Hindu Sanskrit hymns. Kings and villagers attended the performances of the Ramayana and Mahabharata stories, whose plots are still used today.
8. Discuss scenic design.
Scenic design, stage design, set design and production design are terms that mean the same thing: the physical appearance of the stage for a play or the set for a film or television program. It is how the space is used, divided, and decorated. It is a combination of the props, furniture, shapes, colors and placement of the actors. The “stage picture” sets the mood and atmosphere of the production and helps define the show’s overall concept. It can help move the storyline and enhance the plot through the use of background scenery and props reflecting a particular period of time.
Scenic designers are members of the production staff. They work closely with the director, the costumer designer and the lighting designer to ensure that all the critical elements work together and accurately reflect the writer’s message and the director’s interpretation of that message. Scenic designers often build scale models to help the others “see” how the stage will look, so the others can do their jobs more effectively.
9. Discuss costume design.
Costume design encompasses all the elements of the characters’ appearance. It includes clothing, hats, footwear and accessories. It also can entail creating masks, makeup or other special requirements such as the animal suits worn in the stage productions of Cats and The Lion King. The costume designer may supervise a hair/wig master and/or a makeup artist, depending upon the historical era in which the story is set. The costumes sometimes help identify the character and should enhance the overall mood and atmosphere of the production. Costumes must also allow the type of movement reflected in the time period in which the story is set, and not inhibit the way the director wishes to block the scenes. Care and maintenance must be considered, especially if an extended run is expected or the show is on tour.
Costume designers are members of the production staff. They work closely with the director, the scenic designer and the lighting designer to insure that all the critical elements work together and accurately reflect the writer’s message and the director’s interpretation of that message.
10. Discuss lighting design.
Lighting design is an art as well as a flexible tool with several creative uses in theater, film, television, dance and opera. The lighting designer is a member of the production staff and works closely with the director, scenic designer and costume designer to insure that all the critical elements work together and accurately reflect the writer’s message and the director’s interpretation of that message. Lighting enhances the production in many ways. Its functions include:
- ILLUMINATION: the audience needs to be able to see what is happening
- REVELATION OF FORM: can change the perception of the actors and objects in the scene
- FOCUS: directs the audience’s attention toward or away from a spot on the stage or set
- MOOD: sets the tone and atmosphere of a scene
- LOCATION AND TIME OF DAY: sets or alters the scene in time and space
- PROJECTION/STAGE ELEMENTS: portrays scenery
- PLOT: causes or announces an event or advances the action of the story
- COMPOSITION: emphasizes a particular area of the stage or set