Watching actively and making notes

Watching actively

Vicky illustrates how you can evaluate an actor's physical and vocal performance in live theatre

When evaluating a live performance, specific points need to be made to ensure that the watching and listening were done actively - the show needs to be thought about while being enjoyed. As well as watching performers, attention should also be paid to the design elements:

In theatre, everything seen or heard is there for a reason and is intended to convey meaning to the audience. Examples of questions that can be asked of these elements include:

  • Why has the lighting designer used that colour of light?
  • Why did the performer increase their volume in that part of the scene?
  • Why did the costume designer put the lead actor in a different costume?
  • Why did the sound designer use sad string music during a performer’s monologue?

Making notes

Making notes while actually watching a performance should be avoided, as important moments can be missed and it can be distracting for the performers. However, notes should be made as soon as possible after watching the show to avoid forgetting things that happen. The notes should include detailed observations and personal opinions on aspects of the show that were effective or not. They might also include knowledge about the key aspects of the play, eg the design, characters and context.

There are lots of different ways to make notes, for example:

A mind map of different elements of live theatre evaluation - performer, set design, costume design, lighting design and sound design.An example mind map

Notes can be separated by a scene or section of the play, or by different categories, eg costume design, sound design, etc. These notes can then be used as a revision tool to remember the production. The more that can be remembered in the exam, the easier it should be to answer the questions.