Drama

Option A

Option A: Practical performance in a scene from a published play

  • Working in a group of between two to five people, you will perform an extract from a published play script [script: The text of a play or drama production - usually the script will give suggestions for the setting of the scene and contain direction for the characters ].
  • The performance should last approximately five to 25 minutes, depending on the size of your group. (Approximately five minutes for each group member eg two people = 10 minutes).
  • You can amend or edit the original script, but essentially you will be using the original material.
  • Your performance will be assessed on the following areas:
  1. Your understanding of the character you are performing.
  2. How you use your voice as your chosen character.
  3. How you move as your chosen character.
  4. How you listen and respond with other members of your group during the performance.
  5. How you engage the audience.

Performance check-list

Before you get stuck into your drama performance, read through the Revision Bite check-list to make sure you know what's important in this part of your course. Also look at the Revision Bite calendar of goals, which will keep you focused in the countdown to the exam.

Check-list

Timing

  • The performance exam will usually take place in April or May.
  • This gives you around 11 weeks to develop and rehearse your exam piece.

Script

  • You will be given a script. Your teacher may give you this around Christmas time of Year 11 or in January.
  • Aim to learn your script or develop your drama as completely as possible with around two weeks to spare.

Casting

  • Your teacher will probably help in choosing your group, and may make suggestions about casting.
  • On the other hand, you and your group may make all the decisions.

Technical Design students

  • You will need to work with your chosen group from the start of the work.
  • You should try to give your ideas as you go along, during the development and rehearsal process.

Costume, set and props

  • These things need to be found quickly, so they can be used during rehearsals, if possible. Charity shops are good sources of costume items. Sometimes Art and CDT departments will help you to make props - if you ask nicely! (Letters of appreciation always go down well afterwards, too.)
  • Why not have props in a named box for each student, so that everyone's responsible for their own things?
  • Placement of props off-stage before the performance should also be each student's responsibility - and same goes for collection afterwards.
  • A list in (or on) the box would help you check everything's there.

Lighting and sound

  • Lights and sound should be prepared during the development period.
  • Lighting/sound plans will need to be made, and put onto cue sheets.
  • Tapes, CDs or other recordings will be needed for music or sound effects, unless you're working with live music and sound.
  • Agree who's responsible for the cue sheets. lighting, sound or CDs etc., if you don't have a performance support student.
  • Make sure that everything is kept secure.

Special FX (Special effects)

  • Think about using any back-projection of images - or maybe video?
  • If you're using them, have them ready around half-way through the process, so that they can be fitted into the rehearsals. This gives time to make alterations.

Development and rehearsal

  • You may just use your normal drama lessons for rehearsals.
  • If you're keen to do well, perhaps ask your teacher for extra sessions as the exam approaches - perhaps at lunchtimes or after school
  • Consider working at the houses of members of the group, perhaps at weekends.

Technical and dress rehearsals

  • This is an important part of the process. Aim to have everything in place for this.
  • Consider inviting another class to watch, perhaps a group from KS3 who are considering Drama as an option.
  • Make a check-list of things that need fixing before the exam performance.

Create a performance calendar

Before you get carried away with your drama work, create a calendar showing what you need to do leading up to the exam.

It'll help all members of your group to know what they're working towards each week.

Your calendar might look something like this.

A sample performance calendar

Week

11

Scripts or stimuli given outGroups formedExploration workCastingJobs allocated in groups: gathering props, making set, costume etc.

10

Trying out ideas - devisingBlocking out sections of scriptsApproaches to script - style, etc.

9

Rehearsals and developmentIdeas for music/sound etc.Starting to find props

8

Rehearsals and development continueMusic sources should be explored and decidedProps should be used as they're found

7

Rehearsals and development continueMusic sources should be explored and decidedProps should be used as they're found

6

Rehearsals and development continueMusic sources should be explored and decidedProps should be used as they're found

5

Rehearsals and development continueMusic sources should be explored and decidedProps should be used as they're found

4

Rehearsals and development continueMusic sources should be explored and decidedProps should be used as they're found

3

Rehearsals and development continueMusic sources should be explored and decidedProps should be used as they're found

2

Rehearsals and development continueMusic CDs etc. need to be finalised and usedProps and costume need to be readyLighting and set needs to be ready

1

Rehearsals and development continueTech and dress rehearsals

0

Performance!

Tips for performing and group work

Performing (acting) is only a very small part of Unit 2 - before you actually get to perform your play in front of the examiner, you have to work in your group to rehearse your performance.

This Revision Bite will help you to get your best out of your rehearsals and performing work.

Energy

Sometimes we don't feel energised at the start of a lesson and it shows!

  • How long do you sit and discuss ideas with your group?
  • Do you spend more time discussing ideas than on your feet and working?

Tip:

Discussion with a group is often more productive when you're already on your feet. It means you can try out an idea easily and quickly.

Have you ever:

  • Sat down too long within a scene?
  • Been half-hearted in your gestures, your use of voice or your movements?
  • Lost concentration in a scene?

If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions - your drama work could be suffering from lack of energy.

Why is energy so important for drama work?

  • Without energy, our drama work communicates sloppiness or half-heartedness to our audience.
  • Your lack of energy might have a knock-on effect in your group. If you don't show enthusiasm, others often lose energy too.
  • Energy can add excitement to a drama - but a lacklustre character will take excitement away.
  • Your drama will be watched by an examiner - they'll be hoping for a good, energetic performance!

How can I gain energy?

  • Do some energy-raising exercises at the start of the session, ask your teacher to teach you some of these.
  • Stay on your feet as long as possible when discussing, devising and developing the work.
  • Remember - most actors are seated for less than 10 per cent of the time they're on stage!

Selfish driver or Sleepy passenger?

  • Is there someone in the group who is full of ideas for the drama work, but so eager to be heard that s/he blocks out other people's suggestions?
  • Do they listen to other people's ideas, but then find a way to make sure that the group only uses theirs?

The selfish driver

The Selfish Driver doesn't see or hear anyone else on the road, and takes more than their share of the space. This sort of behaviour stops others from feeling involved. The others realise their ideas willnot be noticed or used and they stop bothering to think. In this way the group is weakened.

The sleepy passenger

  • Is there someone in the group who doesn't suggest ideas?
  • Do they spend the time not really listening?
  • Do they prefer to be told what to do?
  • The Sleepy Passenger is a different kind of drain. They don't contribute much to the drama process and they have to be toldwhat to do.

What can you do with these types in the group?

  • Encourage the Selfish Drivers to listen to the suggestions of others. Get them to ask each person in the group for their ideas or comments, and as a group make sure those ideas are discussed. Sometimes great ideas come from people who haven't been given the chance to voice them in the past.
  • Be supportive and interested yin the ideas of everyone in the group - this should control the Selfish Driver, and encourage the Sleepy Passenger.
  • Try always to give further suggestions to develop everyone's ideas.
  • Keep the Sleepy Passenger focused by asking one or two members to say why they like certain ideas. Include him or her in this, but don't single them out, as this could send them back into their shell!

Tips for performing and group work

Rehearsals

You will have been given quite a long period of time to prepare for your practical performance from a text so it's important that you use the rehearsals wisely. (could we highlight and explain this?)

Remember:

The examiner is looking for a polished piece of theatre with strong characterisation [characterisation: To portray a role using voice and physical skills ] and this will take time and effort to prepare.

Just as a computer programme has a 'default' state, eg a certain font or setting, some groups never really explore the possibilities for developing their work. They just use the first idea, and keep coming back to it. Some group members always use the same type of gestures, or play the same sort of role time after time. This can be boring!

Getting to know your character!

The main emphasis of the performance is showing an understanding of your character. It’s not just about learning lines (although this is obviously important!) but about presenting a believable character on stage.

Tips for rehearsals

  1. Read the whole play from which your scene is taken. Sounds boring! But remember - characters change and develop and you will find out lots of important information which will really help your understanding.
  2. Develop some improvisations based around your characters eg what will your character be doing in 10 years time? Improvise a scene from when they were younger. Develop an improvisation based around a key moment in the play.
  3. Create a life history for your character using information from the play.

What about me?

Technical candidates often feel left out while their group is rehearsing but you are just as important in that final performance.

  • Work closely with your group in getting to know the play and characters.
  • Even if you don't like performing, take part in some of the improvisations just to get a feel of the play.
  • Watch the actors perform. As an audience you are in an invaluable position to give them feedback.
  • Don't be afraid to give technical ideas that you think are going to improve the final performance.

Remember:

It's a team effort.

Tips for performing and group work

Role on the wall

'role on wall' outline of a person

When you're developing characters, you need as much information as possible about them.

This technique can help you get into your role. It’s also a good technique to use when creating characters for your devised practical work. And it’s an effective rehearsal technique.

In this Revision Bite, you'll learn how to tease out this information, using a role on the wall ['role on the wall': An activity used to develop characters and present information about that character ] diagram.

What's a 'role on the wall' diagram?

A 'role on the wall' diagram is usually just an outline of a person with information written on it - either inside the outline, or round the edge. It represents the character you're exploring.

While your 'role on the wall' diagram isn't likely to be part of your Documentary Response, often the work you do on it leads to good ideas for scenes, so be sure to point this out in your Documentary Response written work.

Tip:

If you're having trouble imagining your character, try hot-seating [hot-seating: To question an individual while they remain in character ] - you'll soon get the ideas flowing!

What to include?

A 'role on the wall' diagram can include:

  • how the character feels about him/herself
  • how the character feels about other people
  • what the character thinks about his/her life and/or events
  • what other people think about the character
  • his/her likes and dislikes
  • his/her history
  • his/her dreams or regrets

This information can be very detailed, or just jottings of single words that describe your character.

Detailed information

Here's an example of detailed 'role on the wall' diagram notes based on a character from a play called Adam Wilson.

Character - Adam Wilson

  • wishes he was as 'cool' as his mates
  • feels jealous of Martin - who's a hit with girls though he's got no respect for them.
  • really likes Emily - but he's too shy to ask her out.
  • some boys tease him about his clothes and his ideas - but use him to get their homework done.
  • most girls think he's a bit 'square', but they like his ready smiles and courtesy. They never think of going out with him.
  • Emily hardly speaks to him - she thinks he's kind, but mostly ignores him because people say he's got no 'street cred'. She's from a different background.
  • wishes his father would ease up on him - always criticising him.
  • good at academic subjects, a good student generally, thoughtful and liked by teachers.
  • his form teacher senses he's unhappy at school at times - but whenever he questions him, Adam says he's fine. Teacher knows this isn't the whole truth, but doesn't want to push.
  • wants to be a nurse - but afraid to say so, and he's going to be choosing his subjects this year.
  • wishes his family had enough money to buy him the sort of clothes and gear the other boys have.
  • loves his family dearly - but also frustrated because they don't seem to understand him. Can't go out with the lads at the weekends, because he has to work on his father's small-holding.

Document

Download completed 'role on the wall' diagram (PDF file 259kb)

Your 'role on the wall' diagram

You don't need to word-process your work but you may wish to use colour coding to make it clearer for your purposes.

Example 1: Alex's 'role on the wall'

There is some useful information here. Further details could include:

  • why does the character, Jo, look up to Shaz?
  • when has the character shown that she likes having power?
  • why is the character scared of Shaz? What has happened in the past?

Further details like this could make a difference to your work by informing your understanding of why the character is like she is. From working on the details alternative scenes may suggest themselves.

Tip:

Ask the questions 'why?', 'what?' or 'when?' as you develop your work. Your answers might surprise you, and give you the details you need!

Example 2: Gemma's 'role on the wall'

This student has shown her information in a different format - which is fine. There are some interesting points here, and they're well balanced. But the table could be more detailed, giving a greater insight into the character, eg:

  • in what way is character shown to be caring?
  • in what ways does character feel helpless?
  • what would character like to be able to do?
  • why do others see character as a cheat?

Tip:

Remember to ask yourself 'why?', 'what?' or 'when?' about some of your statements, to give greater information on the characters

Tips for performing and group work

Hot-seating

Learn about hot-seating in the video!

  • Present the whole scene as a mime to help you concentrate on movement and gesture.
  • Present part of the dialogue as a telephone call. This will help you to concentrate on how you say the dialogue. Does it sound all the same? Where do you need to change expression, volume and pace? Experiment with different ways of saying the lines.
  • When your performance is nearly ready get someone to record it. Watch it back and decide what final improvements you should make.

Tips for performing and group work

Where are you?

It’s important early on in the rehearsal process to decide on the actual space you are going to use. Even if you can't rehearse in the actual space for the whole time, be aware of what set etc is going to be onstage. Draw some diagrams to help you plot your set.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you stuck upstage?
  • Are you masked by others?
  • Are people straining to hear you?
  • Have you got your back to the audience?
  • Do you look as if you're frightened of the audience?

Why?

  • Think about where you are and where others are at all times
  • If you can't see the audience, they can't see you!
  • Unless this is a deliberate strategy, make sure you can be seen and heard at all times.

What can you do to make sure you're seen?

Suggest a new direction to the group, and make sure you explain how you can't be seen or heard - this could be bad for the whole group.

Remember:

If you can't see the audience, they can't see you!

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