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How to improve in Year 8 Drama
Help for students and parents
We encourage all our students to reflect on their learning in lessons and use feedback from their teachers to help them improve. Below, you will find the ‘statements for improvement’ that summarise the feedback students are given.
These statements will be used on the termly reports sent to parents and students and parents are asked to look at the further guidance below to help clarify the statements on the reports.
1. Show a better understanding of theme by including more context in your drama work.
Theme is the topic that the drama is based on, i.e. ‘friendship’, ‘careers’, ‘dreams’
Context refers to the specific circumstances of the drama. We often use the 5 Ws to help: Who? What? Where? When? Why?
By building up a detailed context for the drama, informed by your own research, the theme will be explored in a more interesting and engaging way.
2. Improve your characterisation by focusing on emotion.
Emotion is one of the three ‘Essences of Drama’ that we use to define what drama is. Emotion does not mean you have to cry all of the time! An actor uses their GEMS performance skills to communicate the emotions of the character. In performance, you should consider:
In contrast to your year 7 work, the emotions of your character should develop during the piece. Consider not only when you characters emotions change, but why they change.
i.e. a policeman may be mean, but becomes sympathetic therefore making the audience like the policeman because of the change in emotion.
3. Develop your vocal skills by considering the tone and pace of your speech.
The tone of your voice goes a long way to communicate the emotions of your character and ensure audience engagement. Think carefully about how you use tone of voice. Practice with different tones during rehearsal to find one that best fits.
The pace of your speech is very important to ensure the audience are following the narrative effectively. Remember that your audience has not seen the performance before. Do not speak too quickly, take your time and be heard.
4. Develop your physical skills by using controlled and carefully chosen movements.
Physical skills refer to the use of our bodies to express character to the audience. Physical skills include mime, gesture, body language, facial expressions, movement and posture. You need to make movements that are suited to the style of performance. For example, if you are performing drama that is realistic, you might use subtle gestures. You should aim to be fully controlled in performance, which means practising these skills in rehearsal.
5. Develop your use of space by reflecting on the audience’s view.
Space refers to the stage area. The audience will be sat in a specific position to watch the drama and you need to ensure that you stand on stage in a position that the audience will see you clearly. Sight lines are very important to ensure that the audience can see the action. We use terms to help us understand where to stand on stage, for example: Centre Stage, Upstage, Downstage, Stage Left and Stage Right.
6. Try to show more confidence when working practically with other students.
In Drama, we usually work in groups. This involves cooperating and sharing ideas. All students are expected to contribute to practical work, but sometimes you can feel nervous that you will say or do the wrong thing. Confidence is not about being bossy. Confidence in Drama is about being willing to share your ideas and respond to others when they make suggestions. Confidence is about working towards a clear goal, so set yourself a goal to complete in each lesson. Confidence is also about exploring character without worrying about what others might think. Speak to your teacher or a friend in the class if you are nervous and want to check your ideas before telling your group.
7. Develop your drama work by using conventions that are appropriate to the drama you are creating.
Conventions are the tools that are used to give drama shape and form. They are the building blocks of creativity. For example, by adding the convention of a Thought Aloud (speaking aloud the thoughts of the character) you can reveal the hidden feelings of your character, which gives more detail to the audience about your character. Some conventions are realistic, such as Overheard Conversation, whereas others are non-naturalistic, such as Captions.
8. Reflect more thoughtfully on your creative decisions and the audience response.
A theatre director needs to reflect thoughtfully on the decisions they make in rehearsal to ensure that their ideas are clearly communicated to the audience. So, by reflecting on your ideas you need to ask the questions:
- What does the audience see?
- What does the audience think?
- How does the audience feel?
These questions should be asked during rehearsals as a way of improving the drama before performance.
9. Reflect more thoughtfully to reflect on successes and improvements.
Successes describe the aspects of drama that are working effectively. Improvements describe the aspects of the drama that could be made better. Both are important to consider, both during rehearsal and after a performance. By identifying What Works Well (WWW) and Even Better If (EBI) you will reflect on the aspects of drama you want to keep doing as well as the aspects you’d like to change.
By year 8 we are expecting you to explain why your successes communicate effectively and why your improvements would communicate better.
10. Be more willing to cooperate with others in the creative process.
Drama is a social art form, which means that to have a successful outcome you need to communicate and cooperate with other people. The other people involved may be other students, working as actors or directors, or your teacher, who will be setting you tasks and giving you feedback. Being willing to cooperate means listening to ideas and advice, sharing ideas and giving feedback, and putting effort into making the drama effective.