Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2), Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, Theater
Time Required: Long–Term Unit
Six 30-minute class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Performing Arts in Art

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Lesson Plans
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Glossary (RTF, 255KB)
Print and Web Resources (RTF, 247KB)
National and California State Standards (PDF, 826KB)

Lesson Overview

Students will examine and discuss an ancient Greek statuette depicting a comic actor and an ancient Roman lamp decorated with a comic theater mask. Students will learn about stock characters and create comic masks for characters. They will work in teams to pantomime a short scene while wearing their masks.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• describe how stock characters have been portrayed in theater and works of art.
• identify lines and shapes in a work of art.
• create a comic theater mask.
• pantomime short scenes.


• Reproduction of Statuette of a Comic Actor by an unknown Greek artist
• Reproduction of Lamp in the Shape of a Comic Mask by an unknown Roman artist
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about the statuette and lamp
• Student Handout: "Emotion Cards"
• Internet access
• A figurine of a comic actor or cartoon character (i.e., Jim Carrey doll, Toy Story figurine) or an object that displays a comic actor or cartoon character (i.e., SpongeBob SquarePants pencil holder, Shrek drinking glass)
• Information and activities in the “Understanding Formal Analysis” section on the Getty website (optional)
• Projector
• Dry-erase markers
• Student Handout: "Who, What, and Where?"
• Student Handout: "The Shapes of Characters"
• Paper
• Pencils
Art Activity: "Paper Theater Masks" (PDF, 505KB, 3 pp.)
• 8½ x 11 inch paper cut into approximately eight 1 x 11 inch strips (one strip per student)
• Heavy sheets of paper (i.e., construction paper or cut sides of brown paper bags)
• Scissors
• Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
• Hole punches
• Elastic or yarn
• Glue or tape
• Assorted decorative materials, such as foil, recycled fabric, scrap construction paper, raffia, and yarn (optional)

Lesson Steps

Download the complete lesson by clicking on the "download this lesson" icon above.

Glossary Terms:
Words in bold on these pages and in the lesson are defined in the glossary for this curriculum (see "Performing Arts in Art Contents" links above).

Statuette of a Comic Actor / Greek
Statuette of a Comic Actor, unknown Greek artist, 325–275 B.C.