My ideal drama qualification

I was thinking on the way home from work this week about what I would do if I had a group of students, perhaps a small group of between 10 and 20 students, who could opt to take an imaginary qualification that would be equivalent to 4 GCSE’s.

I was involved in the development of the Diplomas in the mid 2000’s but I wasn’t in a school that delivered them. At the time, I was working freelance and worked on writing delivery bids and making negotiations with partner schools, but by the time I returned to teach full time the idea of diplomas and all the hard work that went into them had already gone! However, if you remember the diplomas (perhaps you even did one) then I’m thinking of a qualification similar, focus ing purely on Drama and Theatre Studies.

If I had that opportunity I’d develop a course that would be split into four interlinking areas of curriculum:

  • Knowledge and understanding of theatre history from Greek Theatre to today.
  • Within which the students are also expected to create a text based performance in that genre, style or historical period.
  • From which students are required to create their own manifesto for theatre, which at predetermined moments during the course, they need to demonstrate through the creation of a performance.
  • In addition to watching live theatre at regular intervals that, as all students will learn about all forms of theatre in depth, students will be able to make connections with and use to inform their own manifestos for theatre.

The course would be driven by the in depth study of theatre but taken in the direction the student wishes through their own devised work which demonstrates their manifestos for theatre.

Component 1 – theatre genres and styles: 35% of the course

The students would have to be required to identify, understand and know a range of details with regard to the genres, styles and historical periods – such as acting style, key works, key authors, key historical, cultural, social and political influences on the form and key practitioners or theorists.

The assessment of this component would be through the following:

  • 10% of the marks awarded for this component will come from the performances in Component 2 for demonstrating students understanding of the genre through practical work (more on that later).
  • Written exam that requires students to compare and contrast theatre genres and styles as they write about the history of theatre. This could be a huge exam so I’d limit it to a series of five  one hour exams taken at moments in the course that are equally spread over the span of the course.

Component 2 – Performing scripts pieces: 15% of the course

The students would be required to understand the play, how it fits into the genre, it’s writer, the influences on the text from historical events, the society, Cohen culture and the politics of the time the play was written and how to use acting skills to create a performance that recaptures that genre or style in performance.

The assessment of this component would be through the following:

  • Teacher assessment of all the performances, of which the best 8 performances go towards the final grade. These performances will be moderated by an external moderator.
  • Marks are also awarded for the demonstration of students understanding of the theatres genre and style through their performance which goes towards component 1.

Component 3 – creating a manifesto for theatre: 35% of the course.

Through reflection on component 1 and 2 and experimental devising work throughout the course students will need to create their own manifesto for theatre.

The assessment of this component would be through the following:

  • A piece of coursework, limited to a maximum of 5000 words, that covers the following three areas:
    1. Their thoughts and opinions on the different genres and styles of theatre.
    2. How they have used these different genres and styles of theatre over the course to experiment with and create new theatre.
    3. Their manifesto for theatre, as informed by their practical experimental work with defence to a final performance that he students create to demonstrate their manifesto.

Component 4 – Live theatre: 15% of the course.

In this part of the course students will need to see live theatre, evaluate it and consider its influence on their own practice as theatre makers.

The assessment of this component would be through the following:

  • A 2000 word piece of coursework that will be handed in at the end of the course alongside the evidence for Component 3 which is 70% evaluation of the piece of theatre seen and 30% reflection on how it has influenced the students theatre practice.

Remember that this is a fictional course and one that would take up 4 option blocks at GCSE, which if that was in my school would account to 780 teaching hours over a year.

photo credit: reds on tour <a href=”″>The Crucible – Minack Theatre</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

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