Student interviews

The videos below explore a series of approaches and insights into the group performance processes and the various individual project options for the HSC drama course.

These interviews are one component derived from our online professional learning module titled 'Stage 6 Drama - Inside the projects' (RG14249).


The individual project videos.

Watch the director's portfolio video (08:20).

Angela Wang discusses her IP titled 'When the rain stops falling'.

[Music playing]

Angela wang

My name is Angela Wang, and for the HSC drama, I completed a director's folio in the individual projects section. What I found with the director's folio was that my experiences throughout stages five and six helped inform how I would produce a director's folio, but more specifically, within year 11, we were able to practice using our metalanguage to talk about theater, and not only the techniques within theater pieces, but also what it made us feel.

And so from there, we approached it with our emotions, and then through this exercise of writing and reflecting, we were able to sort of see how this piece informed us, or how this piece evoked these emotions within us. So I was able to bring that ability of transforming the emotion into concepts and techniques on stage in my folio through the skills of year 11.

Another piece of the year 11 syllabus that we explored was a play. And with that play, we were required to direct pieces from that play and bring it to life with our own vision. So with that, that gave me firsthand experiences in being a director and putting scenes on as a director, which further informs how I would approach a director's folio, as I was able to understand things not only from an actor's perspective, but also from a director, and, consequently, from an audience perspective as well, as we watched other people's performances.

So initially, I wasn't too sure about choosing director's folio as my individual project. And the reason why I did choose it in the end was that the scope and the opportunities that the director folio gave for me really allowed me to challenge myself creatively. I looked at the other projects, and really were interested by what was required, such as the costume and set design, but I felt that the ideas that were coming out of me weren't adequately encompassed by that sort of project, and I felt like I needed more outlets and mediums to express the ideas that I had.

So in the end, with the director's folio, I was able to incorporate things such as costume, set design, actor exercises, and that really allowed my idea to really thrive, and I felt that that was the perfect medium or project for that idea.

So the dramatic meaning that I wanted to communicate was the powerlessness felt by the characters in the face of tragedy, and also how those characters, who choose to accept that fate and that fact, were able to then move on and really experience life to its fullest once they had realized mortality, and as well as the fact that they were powerless in the face of tragedy. And from that, when I initially read the play, I had a vision of a wave that constantly reappeared. And from that, I thought of a large, ominous fabric wave to encompass my set, and that will lead into a multisensory experience for the audience, in which that they would also feel powerless in the face of this large, gigantic wave.

I felt that with the play there was also a lesson that we could all learn from, and that was that we can't control our fate, and that once we do accept that fact, we are able to then immerse ourselves into our lives and be in the moment and really enjoy what was given to us for a finite amount of time. My option and text choice did not change over time.

However, initially, I was prepared to change. I really didn't feel like the director's folio, at the start, was for me. So I gave myself adequate time to really push myself and challenge myself as much as I can, within a short amount of time, to see whether it was the right project for me. In the end it was, and I was very happy with my decision that I stayed.

I would just say to students to be very careful with the options you choose, to really dedicate yourself to researching and finding out what play or option fits you best, and also just to know that it's OK to change, and also prepare for that option as well.

The logbook, for me, was a place for me to place my ideas down. I didn't check whether the ideas were something that I'd work with beforehand. It was just any idea that came to mind would be jotted down onto paper. That allowed me to clear my headspace, and also then allowed me to synthesize ideas. And if I needed any ideas from before, I would then be able to drop back to whatever page it was.

Also with that, I used a lot of other resources with the logbook itself. For example, more specifically, I had OneNote, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts for this folio specifically. And within the logbook, I was able to cross-reference what happened within each date, what ideas I had on each date.

And also, the reason why I had these different sort of mediums was that each idea had a form that fitted it the best. And so, from that, for example, if it was an image, or a panoramic shot, that would be best held in the virtual settings, so for example, OneNote or the Tumblr account. And if there was anything that I needed to jot down straight away, it would be most versatile for me to use the logbook. So those were ways in which I approached the different mediums, and with that, they all worked together to allow me to store my ideas, and worked for me to come back to any ideas that I may choose to work on later in the project.

One challenge for me was to write the vision for the director's folio. I had a lot of ideas going on in my head, but when it came time to put something down on paper, I just wasn't able to create a cohesive paragraph, or a paragraph that had clarity within it. And so from there, I asked Amy on help with synthesizing these ideas that were going on in my head. And from there, I basically threw out all these ideas to her, and she came back to me with a interpretation of these ideas in written form.

And so from there, I was able to see how I was able to further project these ideas later on in the folio in a clear and concise manner. And so from there, I was able to then also refine my voice, which helped synthesize ideas and streamline all these different ideas in the different components of the folio.

The structures that helped in making and developing my IP were twofold. So firstly, were the structures set by the teachers. We had several meetings that were on a regular basis, and they were meetings where I would come in with a question or a problem that I managed to come across in my creative process, and then I would tell them all about it. And in response, they would give me micro goals and suggestions on how I could move forward, which was a real confidence boost because I felt like I was making progress.

Secondly, the structure that I imposed for myself-- I didn't really have any set structures. It was more that I enjoyed the process a lot, so to me it didn't feel like school work. I was able to take time away from the other different subjects I was studying for and really find myself enjoying doing the director's folio.

Also, as well in my free time, I do like to search for inspiration. So go on Instagram, or Tumblr, and from that I was also not only having time out from my studies, but also helping progress my director's folio further.

What I've learned is that students taking the director's folio should not live in fear. They should own their creative ideas and have that creative confidence because only when you are able to put those ideas out into the world are you then able to move forward with your project and then further enhance your ideas as well.

Another point that I would like to address is to gain inspiration from your surroundings and to, essentially, take inspiration from your outside world and bring it into the drama room, and use those ideas within your pieces, and choose things that you feel emotionally connected to or are moved by so that you can also work with that emotion in your pieces, and then, also, reflect that emotion among your audiences.

Doing drama for HSC was creatively challenging. I was pushed out of my comfort zone a lot of times, but in the end, it was extremely rewarding, as I was able to be super proud of the work I had produced.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript].

Watch critical analysis – applied research project video (12:30).

Martha Reece discusses her IP titled 'Art vs. Entertainment'.

[Music playing]


So I've actually been studying drama at school since before year 11, but in particular, the kind of emphasis in later high school on analyzing dramatic work and on crafting things in a planned way-- not just putting something there because it looks good or it got a reaction from the audience-- thinking about why things were used in the way that they were and how it all came together was something really important that came through to me during later drama. And I think that was really essential to understand properly when going into the individual project.

[Music playing]

So I did an applied research project for my IP in HSC drama. And this was something that hadn't really been done very often at my school in the past, because there was such a strong focus on excellence in performance at my school. And that was really great for people who were really confident in their performing abilities.

But I always found that while I was well I really enjoyed performing, I was always more confident that I would go well when I was handing in something written or something that I prepared in advance. Whereas, on the day, performances can always go wrong, which some people love. And I enjoyed that aspect of performing.

But for such a big thing, I was someone who felt more confident in knowing that I would be handing in something that I had already perfected and it couldn't go wrong while I was handing it in. So that was one aspect of it.

Another aspect of my choice was that I'd kind of explored research a little bit in history and geography and a little bit in science. But I hadn't had a really strong introduction to research. But the little bits I had I really enjoyed. So I thought trying this project in drama, which was a subject that I really loved, and I haven't really seen any research type projects before, would be an exciting new experience and something I thought I could learn a lot from.

[Music playing]

So my work-- I wouldn't describe it as something that conveyed a lot of dramatic meaning in itself. But rather, I had a strong focus in my work on analyzing dramatic meaning in other people's work. So since it wasn't a performance or a narrative piece in any way, it wasn't focused on creating dramatic meaning.

Although in a way, I think I think I did achieve a sense of dramatic meaning in the kind of journey that was evident throughout my research project, because you saw the beginning with my hypothesis. And then I take you through the steps of how I researched this and what I learned along the way and then come to a conclusion at the end.

And then also through my process, there were various things that changed a lot more. I changed my hypothesis a bit. And so the meaning that comes out at the end is to do with what I learned along the way and what conclusions I managed to draw from the material that I was working with.

[Music playing]

So with regard to my choice of project, I was pretty wary at the beginning going into this, because there wasn't much experience at my school with an applied research project. There was so much performance focus.

So at first, I was actually planning to do a performance IP. But then, as I looked at the other options and started discussing with my teacher, we decided that the applied research project would be a much better fit for me.

So that was kind of that initial decision-making process, which I was a little shaky on whether or not I would be doing this kind of project. But yeah, once I decided, I was pretty set on it.

The thing that did change most over time, I think, was the area that I was looking into. So I was pretty sure that I wanted to look into musical theater, because I had a lot of experience with that. I had a lot of interest in that. I had the relevant background knowledge. But as I did more research, I realized that my original framing of my hypothesis had some really ambiguous terms in it.

And so I went down a path of figuring out why they were ambiguous and started looking more into the kind of specifics of my hypothesis rather than the overall meaning. So yeah, there was definitely some changes in that sense before I came to the conclusion that I did.

[Music playing]

So when I first had to use a logbook in the beginning of high school for drama, I kind of thought it was just this thing you had to do to get the marks-- like it was a requirement, but it wasn't actually that useful.

And in fact, the first few years that I had to use a logbook in drama, I didn't really use it very well. I just would write down what I needed to get the marks. But as I got on towards later years of drama, I think it really becomes a crucial tool in the development of any project. But in particular, the applied research project really, really did use the logbook more than I would have expected even.

So I collected a whole lot of material for this, because it's applied research. I had to get all of these sources, put them together, and look at them, look back through them, analyze them, put it all together. So it really all just happened in my logbook. The entire project lived inside my logbook until the really late stages when I was finishing up drafts of it.

So yeah, the majority of my work happened in my logbook. And all the material that I used in the whole project, all of my thoughts, my ideas, every piece of material went into my logbook for the project.

[Music playing]

So when I went into this applied research project, I didn't know very much about research. And in particular, I didn't really understand what applied research meant. So I kind of went into it looking at bits of material, things that I happened to already know, my own personal opinions, and was kind of just chucking everything together. I came up with this hypothesis. And then I was just kind of doing a bit more of the same-- putting research in, deciding what my conclusions were going to be.

And at some point, my wonderful teacher pointed out to me that an applied research project is really about getting that hypothesis and directing your research around it and towards a conclusion based on that hypothesis. So one big challenge was to do with understanding what kind of work I should be doing and how best to spend my time in getting towards the end.

And I think definitely, with a lot of support from my teacher, I kind of figured out what to put my efforts into and managed to divert my attention away from just what happened to be interesting at the time to what was actually going to be useful for my project.

[Music playing]

When I started out with this applied research project, I really needed some kind of stimulus to get started. I didn't really have any idea what it was meant to look like, where to start. So one of the first really useful things in my process was actually going to see on stage the year of my HSC, because there was works on display, excellent works from the year before. And there was the first two ARPs that I've ever actually seen. I'd never seen one before. And so just having a look through what those people did in theirs was really helpful.

And then, of course, I moved into working on mine and developing mine. And so of course, the biggest thing was teacher feedback, which luckily for me, was pretty constant, pretty readily available. And I was very fortunate in that my teacher had a fair bit of expertise in this kind of project. So yeah, definitely just regular meetings with my teacher were really essential in making sure I was on the right track at all times.

And other helpful things were getting people to read it who didn't really know so much about what I was doing and didn't have any background in the area. Actually, for this project, I was focusing in musical theater. And my teacher had more experience in straight drama without any music involved. And since mine was so music heavy, there was a lot of musical stuff that she hadn't encountered before. And I think it was really useful, actually, to get her outside perspective on that side of things.

So when I went to work on the rest of it, I started getting some feedback from people who didn't even know much about drama and just checking that it made sense all the time. That was one big thing. Yeah, so feedback was probably the most important thing in developing my applied research project.

[Music playing]

So, if I were to encounter students starting out on this project now, I think the biggest tips that I could give would be firstly, make sure you talk to your teacher about it. This is a project that not many teachers have a whole lot of experience with. Mine happened to, which was really useful.

But if your teacher hasn't got experience with this project, it's possibly a good idea to reach out to another teacher or another student who has done an ARP before, because it's going to be useful just to talk to someone, to make sure you actually understand what it is before you start working on it.

Another thing I would suggest is that if you're going to try and get in touch with practitioners, which I really recommend, because that kind of primary source is really good in your report. And it really backs up what you're saying if you can get current practitioners who are agreeing with you or perhaps disagreeing with you.

If you're going to contact practitioners, start doing it early, because I didn't start contacting practitioners until fairly late in the process, which meant that they didn't have much time to get back to me. And so I got a few less than I would have hoped for.

And the other thing I would suggest is probably to get a strong idea in your mind about the subject area that you want to look into before you start developing your hypothesis. So there's this area of study background research that you're supposed to do at the beginning. And that for me kind of consisted of just thinking about what I already knew about. Whereas I think it would have been beneficial if I'd spent more time looking at the information that was out there and what I would be able to find and use my report before I started trying to put it into a hypothesis that I potentially wouldn't be able to answer later on.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]

Watch the design lighting (05:24).

Annesley Wye discusses her IP lighting design for 'Toy Symphony'.

[Music playing]

Annesley Wye

My name is Annesley Wye and I did lighting design for my year 12 drama major work. For my year 11 play, I was in charge of sound and lighting design. Our play was Dags by Debra Oswald and I was in charge of the sound and lighting of the whole show. So I got to in class each week design the lighting and the sound, each scene by scene and the transitions between the scenes.

We had scenes that were indoors. We had scenes that were outdoors, so playing between the lighting between those two. The fact that I was able to light a show and to see people's reaction of it and how well it went, it inspired me to do lighting design for my major work. I chose lighting for my major work because I wasn't 100% super confident on stage to do a monologue and I don't necessarily have many other awesome talents in costume design or things like that.

So I thought lighting was really fun and I enjoyed it for my year 11 play, so why not do it again. For my major work in year 12, I chose the play Toy Symphony by Michael Gow. And I wanted to show the inner turmoil of someone who's really creative and whose creativity is stifled, especially when that school by teachers and trying to fit in with everyone else.

I used shade and color in my major work to show people who were real and people who were not real. So the people who were not real were really bright and colorful. I use lots of shades like greens and purples and bright yellows to show that they were fantastical and very different. I used really dull colors to show the boringness of all the people at school.

I picked two scenes from the play to light on a stage. So I picked one scene from each act and I wanted them to contrast. So I used one from act one and one from act two, and I picked them because they show two different sides of the main character. One where his imagination is stifled and his creativity is being taken down by teachers and the boringness of school and one where his imagination flies free. And there's crazy characters real, not real and it's really interesting to be able to light those and see the difference between those two.

My option choice and text choice, they didn't really change over time. I already had decided that I wanted to do lighting design for my project. And I think when I went through all the plays that were options for what I could do, I decided on Toy Symphony and I was really sure that I wanted to do it because I read through it and it was really cool.

I used my logbook a lot. I used to-- I took it to school to show my teacher every week how I was progressing through my work and I also took it to industry professionals. I was able to visit a theater and sit in the lighting booth and watch a performance and watch the lighting for that, which was super helpful.

And I wrote everything down in my book, and then I was able to take it back to school, take it back to my family who helped me as well, and show them all my ideas and refine them slowly to create the major work. I had a really cool opportunity to spend some time with an ABC lighting director and I was able to show him my work.

And he was able to help me with more of the subtle lighting that you wouldn't necessarily think about, which was super helpful towards the end of my work. There were a lot of little challenges along the way, but the biggest one that I've faced was about two weeks out from when my project was due for marking. It kind of just hit me that it's all due and I thought I had done more than I had.

And I had to really look through all of my things, get everything sorted, get really organized and seek help from others to finish it all in time. Some experiences that I had that helped structure my work were various excursions throughout my time in drama from year 9 to year 12, going to see plays in theaters and seeing how they lit the stage.

I also was able to sit in the lighting booth in my local theater and have a really hands on experience with how to light a show and lighting that. And also, feedback from family, friends and teachers helped me finish it all on time, get different opinions on things, and it helped me change some things and finish my work.

After completing all of this work, I learned that it is not a one man job. This is not something that you can do just by yourself and that you need to ask people for help. I did that through asking my parents, my teacher, lots of different people. I would also advise anyone who is doing a project like this to make sure you've got your time management sorted out.

Start your project early and get all of it done because you'll be busy with other things in year 12 and then you don't want that to come down on you when you're about to sit exams and things like that so start early. If you're considering or thinking about doing lighting design for your major work, I would definitely say go for it. I really enjoyed my experience, even through the challenges. And seeing the work finished, it was so satisfying.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]

Watch the design set​ video (07:23).

Maya Challoner discusses her IP set design for 'Stories in the dark'.

[Music playing]

Maya Challoner

I'm Maya Challoner and for HSC drama 2019, I did set design. A few of the experiences I brought from year 11 would have been the rotational stage that I used, which helped me for my year 12 project as I incorporated it into my set design. I also used techniques such as a multi-level stage.

I used recyclable products, as well as incorporating a really flexible space within a singular level. I thought was really important and I incorporated all of these techniques into my year 12 set design. I chose set design for my IP as I've always really enjoyed creating a 3D visualization.

Every time I go see a play, I'm always more focused on the way that the play is projected through the environment, and the set, and all that instead of the actual play. And I think that I've always really been into model making and architecture. I really enjoy that as well, so it all came together and I really enjoyed it.

I chose Debra Oswald's Stories in the Dark for my set design. I really wanted to incorporate the use of the connection between fantasy and real life, and the impact storytelling and imagination can have on children. Due to this set being set in a war torn country, it's all quite dark and I feel like my imagination is a really key point.

The main meaning of the correlation between fantasy and real life, I use this through a rotation stage and the use of lighting. So when the stage is flipped around to a certain side, it's all quite dark and gloomy and it's all cardboard. It's really bummed out. But when you flip it around, there's a projecting screen on the base and the front panel of the rotational stage and lights come on all around the outside.

So it creates a whole different atmosphere focusing on imagination and storytelling, which I think is really important in this play as it can be a really gloomy and dark. And I think that was one of the main meanings I wanted to show. My option choice never changed as I went into year 12 drama knowing that I wanted to do set design as I loved it in year 11 and year 10.

And my option choice never really changed, but it took me a while to choose what play I really wanted to do. I was stuck on maybe three plays for a long time and I never really had a set play in my mind. So that took a little while for me to choose. I ended up choosing the one that I did choose, Debra Oswald's Stories in the Dark, because I really connected to it.

I really enjoyed the play. I really loved reading it and I think that's really important for me to then go on and build the actual set if I really like the play. The main way I used my IP logbook in developing all my ideas is basically as a diary. I wrote down every single little thing, every picture I took, every step. I wrote it down.

All the mind maps, all the sketches. I think there's like 20 sketches in there just from the beginning. I have everything put in there. Every idea that I had comes to my mind, I quickly jotted down to make sure that everything's in there so I could refer back to it when I started constructing. I think that was really important for me, putting down everything.

It's basically everything that I've ever thought of as in that logbook. So my logbook definitely kept me on track. I was able to flip back and recollect and be like OK. Well now, I've finished this. What do I have to move on? What are the steps that I said in the first few weeks that I needed to do now? And it definitely helped me and showing my ideas to my teachers, and my friends, and my family. And getting their feedback was really important through my log book.

The main challenge I faced when creating my set design IP was definitely time management. So by the beginning of my process in creating my set design, I was focusing a lot of my log book. I was putting down hundreds and hundreds of ideas, and pictures, and sketches, and mind maps and all this. And I never really started my construction process until quite a lot later on. So I think that that was a bit of a challenge for me.

A way that I fixed this challenge was by having a schedule and a really strict layout as to what I was going to complete in different weeks. So I'd be OK. By next Tuesday, I want the base of my set design complete. In three weeks' time, I want to be putting the lights in. I don't want to be still focusing on the little people or anything like that. I think having a really strict schedule to construction was really important for me.

The main structure that helped me in the making and developing of my IP would have been feedback. I think feedback structured the whole process. Feedback from friends, family, teachers-- they can give me positive feedback and I know exactly what I need to keep in it. They give me negative feedback and I can take that on board and tweak a few things.

And I think that really structured my process in developing my IP. Another thing that was really helpful was my logbook. So I could look back and if I wanted to add something, I'd be like oh, I'm not too sure if I should add this. I look back and then I'd be thinking oh, OK. Well I said in April I don't really want this, so maybe I should think about what I'm adding and it was really helpful in structuring my whole set design.

One of the main things I learned was time management and how important time management is, and to have a structure to your construction process. I think that was a really important thing that I learned and I wish I had known sooner. Another thing I learned is to, if you can, really go in and have a look at your stage.

So for me, I went in-- I called up CMO center and I went in and had a look at the Everest stage. And I could see the measurements and the size and all the background stuff, and what was really going to affect my set design. And if you can't do that, you can really research. There's a lot of really good information.

You can get floor plans or you can get feedback from other set designers on what they struggled with or what was really good about the set. And I think that's a really important thing to have a look at. It really helped me. Also, another really good thing is to talk to people at the theater.

So I talked to a guy that works around the theater and he was telling me all the practicalities, and all the measurements, and everything about the Everest Theatre the one that I worked on-- and what's good to know and what's going to be tricky to work around, whether or not it's too high or too low. Even the sight lines from all the different seats, I took pictures from all the different angles of the seats that are really important because you need to use sight lines in your set design. I think that was really important.

So the best point of advice I can give the upcoming year twelves doing set design would be to love what you're doing to create a piece of work that you are really passionate and enthusiastic about. Choose a play that you love. Choose a stage or a set that you love and I think you can go on and create a piece of work that you can be really proud of.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]

Watch the scriptwriting Walama Muru video​ (05:59).

Skye Mortimer discusses her scriptwriting IP titled 'Walama Muru'.

[Music playing]

Skye Mortimer

My name is Skye Mortimer, and I did script writing for my IP. The experiences that I carried across from year 11 into year 12 were the use of production elements such as lighting, stage, sound-- anything like that. That really helped me develop my piece. And I took a lot of inspiration from Australian theatre and the stories of indigenous experiences, so that was a main factor in my IP.

I ended up choosing script writing for my IP just because it was one of my strengths. A lot of the teachers have told me that I have a beautiful writing ability and a great storytelling voice. And so I thought if I want to do well and get an A+-- A+ mark-- then script writing would be the way to go, especially because I was tossing up between performance.

But I wrote a lot of the pros and cons down, just to see what could go wrong on the day. Like I could be sick. I could forget my lines. The nerves could get the better of me. So I wanted to get a good mark, and I wanted to achieve writers on stage. And I was very proud that I did and grateful that I was able to have that opportunity.

I took a lot of my own personal experiences of growing up in foster care as an indigenous kid, and also just a lot of the stories I'd heard from other indigenous kids in care. And so throughout the script, I just wanted to evoke a lot of meaning-- a lot of empathy for the children and how that would affect a young person's identity. I could put a lot of my heart and soul into this piece and give a voice to a lot of people-- a lot of kids that don't have a voice. And the experiences that they go through.

Throughout the whole development of my script writing piece, I started off with so many ideas, and it eventually developed and grew into something else. I originally wanted to have the kids personify a certain emotion or a pain that they were experiencing through foster care. However, it slowly grew into telling my story and the story of a lot of other children growing up with cultural issues and identity issues. And so it allowed me to wrap up and explore my cultural identity issues, along with exploring it for other children going through foster care.

The use of my log book really helped me consolidate a lot of my ideas and a lot of just those one-off memories or moments that I'd have throughout the day where I could be thinking about my script. And so allowing me to get those thoughts and put them onto paper really helped me flesh them out. And I used it to visualize how I would set up the stage, if it was ever to be put on production.

I used it to look into the characters and make character profiles, so I really knew what I was writing and who I was writing the story for. I used a lot of pictures about the park that I set it in or just for the characters with what their props would be used. It was just a way to kind of gather all my research and put down other script ideas that I was thinking or little saying ideas. I really recommend utilizing your log book for your developing process.

A key challenge I face throughout my writing process was the fact that I would get terrible writer's block, and I'd go through moments where I couldn't-- I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn't get it out onto the page. And so I talked with a lot of my teachers and a lot of people outside of the classroom to help me with ideas or even just give me a starting point. And getting that feedback really did set the scene and start the ball rolling, and it helped me move on and finish the script.

Helping me manage my IP it definitely was the log book. That's key in making sure I was on track and hitting all the key points that I wanted to-- I wanted in my piece. My teachers also constantly asked for me to finish a scene or write a little part in the script and send it to them to get feedback, so that helped me keep on track. And a lot of the classwork we did allowed me to spend time to refine pieces--

[Music playing]

--or spend one-on-one on one time with my teachers to get that feedback.

Looking back on my experience, the advice that I would give to current students is utilize your teachers, start thinking about what you want to do and what you want to produce super early in advance. Especially for me, having that trouble with writer's block, having that extra time to get feedback-- to talk to other people-- really helped me produce a piece of work that I really love and something to be proud of.

[End of transcript]

Watch video drama​ (04:55).

Asher Harris-Cohen discusses his IP Video Drama titled 'The Coin Trick'.

[Music playing]

Asher Harris-Cohen

My name's Asher. I did the video project for the HSC in drama.

An important experience I took from year 11 drama was, in the earlier stages of the year, we got an assignment where we had to do a design-based project based on a play that we were studying. And I made a film for that. This gave me a good grounding for my year 12 film project, as I'd already practiced making a film to fit into the drama mold.

I chose to make a film for the individual project as I'd been making films since I was 10 years old. And I saw this as a great opportunity to hone my craft, get more practice with film work.

[Ball thuds]




How long has your cousin been staying with you?


Too long. A week. He's [Inaudible].


Is there something wrong with him?


He's a weeb. He doesn't play soccer. Doesn't play any kind of sports. It's just-- he does magic tricks or something.

Asher Harris-Cohen

I wanted to create a sense of tension and unease in the film to show that, in life, there is no black and white. It follows a typical underdog kind of story. But in this case, we don't know who exactly to root for, as the protagonist who we'd usually be following shows that he has a much uglier, more violent side.

There's not meant to be a hero of the story. There isn't one. I didn't intend to challenge the audience necessarily. I just wanted to tell a story and not a particularly nice one. You're not meant to feel comfortable while watching it.


Yeah. Yeah, it was cool.

Asher Harris-Cohen

My text choice did end up changing as I was initially going to remake an older short film that I'd made. But when I found out that I couldn't do that, I had another idea that I'd been wanting to make for some time. And this was the opportunity to do it.

My IP logbook wasn't necessarily key in developing or refining my ideas as I really had the film planned out in my head and in the script and storyboard. However, I did write down my ideas as I went along. And this contributes to your final mark. And it's still a great habit to have in the industry in general as you need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly to other people involved in any project you're going to be working on.

A challenge I faced while making this project was one of the two principal actors dropped out a week in advance as did a grip who didn't give any notice, unfortunately. Luckily, I was able to get another actor involved who very kindly helped out with the project. And I ended up having to do the lighting work myself.

It's really important to organize everything at least a month in advance, because it's very likely with volunteer actors that something's going to come up. Someone might not be able to make it. So you've always got to have a contingency plan for this.

Another important thing is take care of your actors. Make sure they're comfortable, happy, because they're working for free. And you want them to potentially work with you again in future projects.




Say it.

Asher Harris-Cohen

For me, the two most important structures when preparing for my IP were the storyboard and the script. It's impossible to make a film without these two things.

It's also important to plan heavily and be economical with your time on set. On independent projects, especially, people tend to relax, just hang out with their friends. But at the end of the day, if you're not careful, the film ends up not getting made.

Looking back on my HSC video drama, my number one piece of advice if I had to narrow it down is plan ahead. The thing is you can wing it. But at the end of the day, you'll run out of inspiration. You'll run out of energy. And without that script and storyboard, you're not going to be able to conjure a film out of thin air.

Another important thing is in term 4, year 11, make a decision what you're going to do for the project, because you're going to want as much time as possible to devote to planning ahead for the film or whatever you choose to make.

[Music playing]

So I've been making films since I was the age of 10. And I really enjoyed honing my skills throughout high school. And I'm fortunate enough now to be studying film at a tertiary level. And I'm very excited about what the future may hold in the film industry.

[End of transcript]

Watch the portfolio of theatre criticism video (05:03).

Jason Marchant discusses his IP titled 'The Highs and Lows of Australian Theatre in 2018'.

[Music playing]

Jason Marchant

My name is Jason Marchant. And for my HSC, I undertook a portfolio of theater criticism. There was definitely a few experiences from year 11 which I brought into my HSC. The first was really the curriculum focusing on the elements of production and how a piece of theater uses all the elements-- so lighting, sound, acting, set design-- to really create a work of art.

Another thing I brought from year 11 was we did an assessment at the beginning of the year, which we got to review a piece of theater which we viewed in Brisbane. And it was a really good experience for me to actually have a go at reviewing a piece of theater. And that made me realize that-- actually analyzing how the production elements of the piece of theater all came together off to create dramatic meaning on stage.

I do have a love for writing and analyzing texts, whether it be a book, a film, or a piece of theater. So naturally, that is what I gravitated most towards when picking my individual project in year 12. It also gave me the opportunity to travel to other metropolitan areas, such as Sydney and Brisbane, to view different kinds of theater I wouldn't be able to usually see in my small rural town.

What I really wanted to communicate to my audience was that a piece of theater isn't really just about the acting or the set design or the performance in general. It's, I think, that every piece of theater has a statement to make. And what I really wanted to do is see how well the acting, the lighting, and the set came together to create that statement.

My option for the individual project pretty much stayed as theater reviews for the entire year. I was, early on, thinking of doing performance. However, my strengths were analysis and writing. And that's why I was keen to continue developing my theater reviews.

With my logbook, before I saw each production, I would jot down anything I could about the context of the production so I could be on top of all the details that I would need to know before seeing that piece of theater. After each production, I would go home, open up my logbook, and jot down every single detail I could recall in case there was any minute detail which would help me later on to flesh out an important idea.

I would also put any drafts of my theater reviews in my logbook, any teacher feedback. And most importantly, I would put any details of online reviews that I would find helpful to develop my own voice as a writer and a reviewer.

One of the main challenges with my IP was getting my ideas onto the page as succinctly and with as much flair as possible. To overcome this, I would receive a lot of teacher feedback. And if he thought a paragraph needed to be reworked or a sentence needed to be reworked, I would go home, fix up the paragraph, and give it back to him until it was absolutely perfect.

There were definitely a few structures which were essential in developing my IP. The first one was that student-teacher collaboration and always and consistently handing drafts to my teacher and him giving me the feedback to keep developing those ideas. The second one was using external-- other people's reviews not necessarily to get ideas about the production but rather to see how other reviewers had their own personal and distinctive voice and how I could develop that myself and use that in my own reviews.

Advice I'd give students starting out now is if you consistently draft, start your project early, and constantly develop your ideas, your writing and analysis will get better. Another thing I would say to students starting the project now is be confident in your own voice and your own opinions.

One of the plays I reviewed, which was An Act of God, I put a negative take on it, which I received controversial feedback from my teacher, for example. However, I stuck with my genuine opinions of the play and developed those opinions into what I think was a good review.

[Music playing]

In my experience with theater reviews, one thing that I think students need to take away is not to look at the reviews as a checklist. Don't think you need to talk about lighting and then set and then acting. Rather, flesh out key moments from the piece and talk about how all those things came together to create meaning onstage.

[End of transcript]

Watch the design – costume video (06:15).

Damian Shahfazli discusses his IP costume design for 'The Visit'.

[Music playing]

Damien Shahfazli

I'm Damien Shahfazli, and for my year 12 HSC major work, I did a costume design for The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt. The experiences I brought from year 11 that helped me develop my project was getting to experience all the different options of drama and the HSC. So I got to do a lighting design, I got to do set design as well and some script writing a bit for the play, Ruby Moon, and with the techniques that I applied from there and also creating my own costume for that design, I managed to apply that to my year 12 major work.

And in year 11, I picked up drama for the first time as a subject, so I got to learn all the different theatrical styles, conventions, and also like just a bit about drama in general and performance so that I could apply that to my year 12 works, and I use absurdism as a main theatrical style, which I use for my drama major work, and I learned about that in year 11 with Ruby Moon and a few other plays that I experienced.

I chose this particular option for the IP, because as previously mentioned, I got to experience the different types of individual projects that I could choose for my year 12 major work in year 11. And when I was doing that, I found that I really resonated with doing a costume design, because I already had some artistic history. I had been doing lots of fashion drawings. It's just been a common interest that I was into, and also after reading the text lists and particularly seeing The Visit, I found that I really connected with that text, and I could already map out a vision of what I wanted to do. So it was pretty easy for me to just connect everything and just go with the costume design, because I was already interested in that field of drama.

The dramatic meaning that I wanted to communicate in my work, which was The Visit was mainly about wealth, power, and greed, and particularly about the social class and the distinction between the rich and the poor in The Visit. So what I did was I chose three characters that were more like upper class and then three characters that were of the poorer people, and I made very little distinct details like, for example, the people who are upper class wearing gloves, the people who weren't, they had very falsified clothes as a way to make themselves look rich but as a fallacy, kind of.

And I did this to communicate how greed can change people, how wealth can change people and make them feel more greedy, and that's basically what The Visit was about. And also, I wanted to incorporate some more contemporary and modern ideas like eco-friendly and sustainable, fashion because it's a growing important issue today, and I thought that it would be good to add that element-- that modern element-- for my project. My option choice or text choice over time didn't really change, but at the beginning, I was thinking of doing a play by Moliere. But after reading through the entire text lists and analyzing them a bit, I felt that I connected more with The Visit and I could do more with it and play on this ideas of greed and wealth and power, whereas with Moliere's play, I felt like I didn't really connect with it and I didn't have much else to go off of it, apart from just doing some historical drawings.

I used my IP logbook in developing, exploring, and refining my ideas by using my logbook almost as if it was a diary. I used it in a way to process my thoughts, so what I'd do was scribble and do some sketches, do some mind maps. Just whatever came to my mind, and then from then on, I'd refine my ideas. I'd also use the internet a lot as a resource and print out many pages, just go through them, highlight what was important, especially with researching different theater styles and how costumes can be portrayed in different ways in theater, and from then on, I just map it all together into a complete vision.

One challenge I faced in making and developing my IP was simply the challenge of time management. As a year 12 student, you can be overwhelmed by the amount of assessments that you get, not just from drama, but from all the different subjects that you will choose. So doing a major work, you often want to push it back to the end. By using my logbook and also keeping in touch with my teacher, I found that I managed to use my time more effectively.

The structures that helped to manage the making and developing my IP was mostly having a weekly class that I could go to one on one with my teacher, and also, using different drama resources, particularly on stage for the year before, when I saw the exhibition, that really helped me think of how I would map out a costume design. Not so much the actual design, but more so putting it altogether on a board. By researching and using other theatrical productions as inspiration for my design, that helped refine my ideas and apply everything in a more practical manner.

[Music playing]

Looking back and reflecting on this experience, I have learned a lot about my organization and how to process that. So that includes managing my time, setting plans, and building up to a bigger picture. So any advice that I give to students starting out now would just to be something that you enjoy. Just choose a text that you enjoy and choose a style of the IP that you enjoy, because in the end, this is something that you've created and something that you can be proud of.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]

Watch the design – promotion and program​ video (06:35).

Jasper Luck-Chee discusses his IP promotion and poster design titled 'Black Diggers'.

[Music playing]


My name's Jasper, and I completed the poster and promotion design for my IP HSE. In year 11, we had done a mock poster and promo design, which gave me an idea of the directorial vision, the rationale, designing a poster-- that became natural to me when completing my real IP. And since I had received a mark that I was satisfied with within year 11, I would then gravitate towards that, naturally, towards my real HSC.

I chose this option because the steps that I'd taken in year 11 became so much fun to do. Playing around on Photoshop, making a rationale, it's really purely imagination. Whilst other IPs you have to physically make, this you can really play around with and make this IP your own.

The dramatic meaning that I really wanted to communicate was the exposure of the Indigenous Australian diggers in World War One. It was just such a shock to me that I had never thought or considered aboriginals fighting alongside our Australian diggers. It became more of a message that I wanted to communicate.

The dramatic meaning was exposing their stories of racism, discrimination, but also being unified through their uniform. Wearing the uniform may have unified them, fighting alongside what we know as Australian diggers, but once they removed that uniform, then they have to consider what was that for? I'm going back to racism. I'm going back to that harsh reality. So I wanted to communicate that delay.

Originally, I had settled with one text, but over time, I needed to communicate a better idea. My first choice was Death and the Maiden, which I didn't feel-- it was a great text, but I felt that I couldn't communicate the ideas that I really wanted to with the text type that I had. Then I had to look at the text list again.

Originally, I had a quick glance at the text list, but really developing ideas through all of them, I settled with Black Diggers, as that was something that I felt that I could communicate, and something to learn from as well, and educate potential onlookers that would see this play. I used my logbook to refine and explore my ideas through logging anything that I considered to be worthy of being in my IP. It was great to go back and look at what ideas I did have and see what worked, and see what I could continue, because it's the ones that I didn't necessarily like that I ended up using. So actually writing down helps because you're going to change your IP or your ideas over time, and having that process-- that granular process of going back, is something to-- is something-- should become natural in the IP.

You're going to be doing that. You're going to take one step forward and two steps back, but in the end, everything does work.

A major challenge that I faced developing my IP was cultural appropriation. I was really, really worried about maybe causing offense, or being quite-- even, in fact, racist with the ideas or images I originally wanted to communicate, such as maybe using symbols. But that could have been taken out of context, or used in a different way that I may have not intended.

So that's why I chose something a bit more broad, something that any public eye could look at and communicate what their expectations of the play may be. And I overcame that through placing my subject in a World War One digger uniform, as that symbolizes not only their involvement in World War One, but the experiences they faced through the facial expression, the barb wire I've incorporated.

Really capturing my idea within one image was pivotal to this whole IP. The structures which assisted in developing my IP was regular IP check-ins, as that gave me an uninfluenced eye in regards to how my IP should look. Because I have my idea of how it should look, but having another person look at it and tell me what they think, or telling me, OK, what works, what doesn't within my piece of writing? Or you didn't communicate this effectively.

I couldn't have done that if I didn't have a structured, regular IP meeting sessions because my IP wouldn't have become what it became if I didn't have people helping me. Because this IP you can't really do alone. You need external support to help you through this because it can be quite tough at times, but overcoming those challenges through the meetings and really motivating yourself through seeing the end of it really can structure your IP in such a way that you will be more than happy with it by the end.

So the ideas I've learnt from my IP is just not to be so fixated on one idea. You're going to choose a text, and then you're going to think, OK this one. I'm really, really going to-- I like. And I'm really going to finish my IP with a high mark.

But then when you look at how your idea really works, or when you start drafting it, and you're thinking, OK, this doesn't work the way that I really wanted it to. So I got to week four and decided Death and the Maiden wasn't-- I couldn't communicate my idea effectively with. I went back four weeks in time to go and choose Black Diggers and really have a look at what themes it presents, and reading the text, and just finding those ideas that I could communicate with, such as the exposure of these stories, which should become public knowledge.

I feel that looking back at that, I feel like I did my job because, not only am I educated, but anyone who reads Tom Wright's play has an idea of what he wanted to communicate, and if anyone hypothetically saw my production, what ideas I wanted to communicate through Tom's work.

Another piece of advice I'd give is to start early, and keep giving drafts in because you need to consider by week six, if you want to go backwards, that's going to be really tough to catch up on because you're going to have other subjects to do. Drama isn't your only subject. Make sure to schedule times with your IP mentor. Make sure to keep up to date with the work. Stay motivated. And, of course, just love drama.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]

Watch the performance video (15:49).

Hamish Lewis discusses his IP performance titled 'Exit the King'.

[Music playing]

Hamish Lewis

I'm Hamish Lewis, and I did an individual performance for my AP in HSC Drama in 2019.

Hamish Lewis (as King Berenger)

You know, I've been told that I'm going to die. I'm dying? Yes, I'll die, all right. In 40, in 50, in 300 years, when I want to, when I've got big time, when I make up my mind.

Hamish Lewis

In year 11, you have a lot of experiences that really act as catalysts for your development as an actor, as a dramaturge, as any of these kind of things. These skills that you need to know for HSC Drama. I think, for me, a lot of that learning happened without me being aware of it. The constant act of workshopping, of rehearsing, of performing, refines and hones your skills to such an extent that you are basically transformed without realizing that you're being transformed.

But personally, the biggest lessons of year 11 drama were lessons in time management, in effort, and in the dedication needed in order to do well. I'm someone who strives to do things well, and that mindset is something that keeps me pushing. But in year 11, I probably did not put in enough work in order to do as well as I could have done.

And what that meant was, because my year 11 individual project was actually in applied research project, I couldn't hide behind any sort of natural ability or dramatic flair, or anything like that. And that scrutiny from markers looking at individual words made me realize that in order to do well, you need to start early, work hard, do extensive research, understand yourself as an actor, your body, but also the field that you wish to perform in. The dramatic style, the form, and the playwright who came up with the play you're deriving your monologue from.

There were kind of two catalytic events that made me realize that I wanted to choose performance as the mode of my IP. The first of which was going to see the previous year's on-stage performances, which I found incredibly inspirational. And the second is kind of related to that, and that's getting to see the performances from my school. Getting to sit-in the audience while they did their marked HSC Drama performances.

And as I was sitting there, I remember thinking I enjoy research, I enjoy doing all of these other things that are options, but there's nothing like that kind of thrill of performing and winning an audience over. So really, for me, you have to think about the skills that you're equipped with. You have to listen to what your teacher thinks you have the skill set for, as well. But in the end, you have to pick whatever it is that makes you think, I could really do something cool that's going to make me-- in six months, in a year's time, I'm still going to think back on that and go, wow, I did something really interesting that I wouldn't have done in any other subject. And that's kind of the wonderful opportunity of doing HSC Drama.

The dramatic meaning of my work is really all about death. I mean, it is derived from an Ionesco play, an absurdist play. And the absurdist playwrights are very zoned in on existential questions. What is human purpose? What happens to us after we die? All of those kinds of questions.

So for me, I wanted to explore death as the only universal human constant. It's the only thing that we can be completely sure of. There's the old saying, we only know that we'll be subjected to death and taxes. And taxes doesn't make a great agency drama performance, but death certainly does.

So for me, I wanted to look at kind of extending the limits of the audience's empathy. There's a character here, King Berenger, who is almost maniacally evil. Machiavellian, even in his outlook.

And yet, because of this experience of death, because of his failure to find a purpose, because of the fact that he resorts to this childlike state when he dies at the end cowering and asking to see his little ginger cat. We are forced to emotionally invest in this character who otherwise is a terrible, pompous, awful human being. And that, I think, is kind of the beauty of absurdist theater, is that we have these situations where things are incredibly outrageous and unbelievable situations that wouldn't normally happen. And certainly, an ancient King dying in a bathtub is not something that-- it's not a scene that most people encounter every day. But in spite of how ridiculous it seems, we can have that really deep, empathetic connection with the character, because we relate to them, because this experience of death is so all-consuming and so universal.

Hamish Lewis (as King Berenger)

Tear down all of the other statues in the public squares and replace them with images of me.

Hamish Lewis

So my option choice didn't really change from the beginning of year 12. I kind of had decided that performance was what I wanted to do. But my text choice took a little bit of time to kind of settle down.

Funnily enough, my teacher had actually given me a stack of plays to look over for inspiration, which included Exit the King. But I have a tendency to be easily distracted, and when I read the first page of that, I was distracted. And I didn't find myself coming back to this play until quite a while later after exploring a couple of different monologues as other possibilities.

So in that sense, it took a moment to kind of settle on my idea, but after that, it happened. After discussing it with a few different teachers, talking about it with a few different friends, the choice became you know really concrete, and I didn't find myself flip-flopping around with what to pick. But I do think that if you're in that position, you shouldn't consider that as some sort of curse. I know plenty of people who took a very long time to settle on the exact dramatic meaning that they wanted to communicate.

It took a very long time to settle on the style, the form, the exact monologue that they wanted to use. And still did extremely well, and succeeded. But realistically, if you're going into HSC Drama, you do need to make sure that, once you find that piece that resonates with you and that makes you think, I could really do something with this, stick with it and really go for as long as you can sustain that energy and that interest.

To be completely honest, the log book is one of the harder requirements of HSC Drama. As creative, people we have a tendency to just work on the fly and develop things extremely quickly, in a flurry of creative activity. But the log book is actually, when used properly, a really effective mechanism of documenting that process and making sure that nothing is overlooked.

So I know, in year 11, I did quite badly in the log book, and I needed to take some of those lessons into year 12 and improve in my dedication to that aspect of my learning. But when it's done right, I think the two most effective ways that the log book can be used in recording research and in recording the opinions of other people who see a monologue. So in regard to research, you really need to understand where the play the character that you are deriving your inspiration from has come from.

What's the context? What was the author concerned with? How is this play constructed? What are the relationships like with other characters within the work, and how can I reinterpret those relationships in the context of a monologue by say, reframing them to the audience? You need to write down all of these fundamental questions, but also, you need to record all of the research that you've done. And that can be a really helpful reference point for when you're a little bit confused as to how to make a creative choice.

And another part of that research is that you also need to do well up a statement of dramatic meaning. If you can express what exactly it is that you want to communicate in kind of 150 to 250 words, and type it out into a paragraph, then you know exactly what your kind of super objective is in performing this scene. So in that sense, research is also going to really inform your dramatic meaning, and the way to do that is through recording it in the log book.

The other way to look at it is, in order to do an effective IP, you will have to perform it about a million times to friends, family, teachers, all of these other people who are going to give you feedback on the work. And where they give you feedback, and sometimes you'll get quite a lot, it's really important to record that feedback so that you don't forget any of it in the heat of the moment. So recording exactly what notes they gave you right down to those very nit-picky, specific things that you'll get towards the end of the process, is really going to help you refine your piece and avoid making the same mistakes each time you perform it.

In a funny way, I think the challenges that I faced were also some of the things that made my piece stronger in the end. And the principal challenge that I had was really dealing with this kind of mindset of seeking perfection. Which is, you know, an incredibly powerful force in terms of getting you up and doing things, but it also can mean that you are attuned to be hypercritical of your own work and your own development.

So for me, letting go of this idea that the work had to be kind of word-perfect, the exact same every time I performed it was quite liberating. And there's this idea that a work of art is not finished, it's abandoned. I think the same principle applies really to individual performances. There'll never be a point in which you feel, I've completely gotten this absolutely perfect in line with my exact vision, in line with what the playwright would have wanted. It's not really possible to achieve in the context that you're doing it.

But you have to remember that what you are doing is enough. That you've worked hard, that you deserve to do as well as you can considering the amount of effort that you've put in and how bold your vision was. So it's about trusting in this process of integrity and of creative courage, really, and knowing that-- having faith that that will be reward enough in the end, in spite of the fact that you may not feel completely that it is perfect.

And in a way, similar to how the logbook impacted me, just in general realizing that the expectation of workload in this subject is quite high. It has a very deceiving reputation, drama, for being an easy subject, but what you'll find when you actually do it is that it is both the most challenging and rewarding of all of the kind of opportunities that the HSC can offer you. So don't go into it feeling as though it's going to be easy, because it probably will not be. But it equally will also be some of the most interesting work that you will produce in your time in high school.

Hamish Lewis (as King Berenger)

Selfish, the lot of them. They only care about their own little lives, their own skins. Never mine.

Hamish Lewis

I owe a lot of credit to my teachers for kind of developing a lot of structures that I found really helpful throughout the formation of my IP. Being able to fairly constantly check in with them in lunchtimes and recesses almost once a week, and being able to perform for them, I owe great credit to the feedback that they gave me during that time and for providing me with so many opportunities in order to showcase my work and receive feedback on it. I also owe a great debt of gratitude to my peers and my friends whose performance as I watched a million times, to the point where I remembered half of their lines, and they watched my million times to the point where they remembered half of mine.

But having basically a weekly interval where you perform your work for someone new and seek feedback on it is something that I think is basically essential. And absolutely, there will be days where you don't particularly feel like doing your monologue again, but you should, because it will be hugely instrumental in the formation of that piece, and will really help you in the long run. So thinking about it as an objective for your week is to have your monologue, at least in part, performed for someone and seek feedback on the direction. And don't be afraid, during that time, to really switch it up and take risks and present it very differently, or at least sections very differently, in order to see what works for you and what works for the audience. So I think, really, that's the most essential thing, is to document this on a week-by-week basis, and then record that documentation in your logbook through research and through feedback in order to provide this really concrete structure. This is something that I will embed in my weekly routine that's going to really serve you and your interests in HSC Drama.

I think what you learn the most profoundly in HSC Drama is just how far you can really go in terms of your creativity, in terms of your will, as an individual and as part of a group unit in the other aspects of the syllabus. So really, you learn an incredible amount about yourself and about the kinds of things that you can achieve when you just put your mind to it. And I think, realistically, all the advice that your peers give you that people have done this before and give you, and your teachers give you is true. You need to start thinking about it early, you need to work at it regularly, you need to record it in your log book. That's all true.

But the best advice that I can really give people doing it is to stick with it. Because there were times where I found it intensely difficult and intensely challenging and didn't want to do it at all, but the fact that I stuck with it proved to be so incredibly enriching in the end. There's this horrible myth about creative people and about creativity, that they have nothing to contribute to society and that it's not a useful profession or vocation, and it couldn't be further from the truth.

People who think creatively, to do things differently and approach issues from an individual perspective, have the capacity, realistically, to change people's minds through their art. To explore what it means to be a human being for their art. So don't feel discouraged by how difficult this can be at times. Have faith in the fact that you're going to be OK, and you are going to achieve something which you will look back on fondly and say, wow, maybe it was cool that I did a good essay in English or that I learnt a million formulas for maths, but it's way cooler that I was able to achieve this in HSC Drama.

[End of transcript]

Watch the scriptwriting Game night​ video (06:26)

Rosie Hearne discusses her scriptwriting IP titled 'Game Night'.

[Music playing]

Rosie Hearne

My name is Rosie Hearne and I choose scriptwriting as my option for my individual project. So in Year 11 we had a task that was specifically designed to prepare us for our IP in Year 12. So we had to do a sort of mini version of our IP. So it was a scaled-down script that we had to do within a shorter space of time.

And that really helped me learn about the process of scriptwriting, how I would develop that in Year 12. Because I tried script for that, it made it a lot easier for me to continue with that choice in Year 12. And I learned more about the different forms of drama as well as the process of scriptwriting as a whole.

So I just kept writing for a couple of reasons. First of all, my teacher had advised me that I was a stronger writer than I was a performer, which I agreed with. And because I wanted to do something with writing, you know, my options were slightly limited there. And then I chose scriptwriting because I felt like it was a more creative option out of the writing options, and that would make it kind of different from what I was doing in all my other subjects at school. So yeah, I wanted to do scriptwriting because it would allow me to use my writing skills, but also allow me to use my creative muscles.

My script aimed to explore the idea that humans derive enjoyment from watching the suffering of others. So I did this by drawing during a comparison between the versions of that today within things such as reality TV by creating a falsified reality TV set with the audience acting as a studio audience and comparing that to historical versions-- so with executions and torture being public and used for public entertainment. So I wanted to use sort of post-modern elements to make the audience think about how they're complicit in encouraging the suffering of others for their own entertainment.

My option choice didn't change over time. I chose scriptwriting and stuck with it throughout. But I developed. The form of my script changed throughout. So I started thinking slightly more straight absurdist, but I changed to using postmodern elements and using multimedia elements, because I felt like they added to the message of my script that I was trying to convey.

I've used my IP log book in the planning and developing of my ideas by doing a lot of brainstorming. For me, that involved a lot of mind maps, a lot of inspiration collages, a lot of designing characters and designing sets and getting it all in the one place. It helped me to write down things that perhaps wouldn't work, but to track the progress of my IP throughout. And once I started drafting my script, I used it to stick in my drafts, write notes all over them, figure out what needed to change, reflect on feedback, as well as reflecting on where I wanted it to go in the future.

I faced a number of challenges through creating my IP, one of which was I really struggled with finding inspiration and motivation in general when I was starting with my IP. So to sort of try to overcome that, I did a lot of talking to people about my ideas, talking to friends, talking to teachers, getting feedback. And even when I wasn't feeling my most inspired or motivated, I was able to kind of overcome that by setting really specific goals for myself. So that might be going to the library for a couple hours and dedicating myself to finishing one scene within that time, or having a due date that I had to meet and making sure that I had a full draft by then. So it basically involved doing the work, even when you don't feel like it's your best work, but still completing something. And then you're able to improve from there.

We had a number of structures in place that helped me manage my IP's development. So one of these was our IP Fridays. So every Friday, we'd be working specifically on our IP. And that would allow us time to talk with our teacher, to get specific feedback, for her to assess where we were at. We also had assessments that involved submitting drafts for it.

And for me, specifically, I found that probably the most helpful structure was our showcase night, in which we had to have a reading of a part of our script. And that was, like, a week before the final version was due, so that really forced me to create something that I knew I would be happy with other people seeing. Whereas before, I'd maybe created drafts but wouldn't let people look at them, this time, I was absolutely forced to create something that I was going to be happy with my parents and my friends and the staff seeing and judging. So I thought that was really helpful.

Advice I would give to students starting out now would probably be, most obviously, time management and starting early, getting drafts done early, even if they don't seem so good. But also, I think for me specifically, what I wished I had done more in the beginning would be getting feedback from people, being more happy with other people seeing your work, because you have resources around you who are going to help you develop your script. But if you won't use them, then they're not going to help you. But having discussions with other students in your class and getting the feedback from your teachers is really important and will help you have new perspectives on your script as well.

I really enjoyed studying drama in Year 12. And I felt like it really helped me develop my skills, not only as a scriptwriter, but as a performer. It helped me develop my creative skills and also helped me develop an appreciation for theater and for drama in general. I thought it was a really valuable experience, and I'm really glad to have done it.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]


The group performance videos.

Watch the story of a Hat (14:00).

Byron Bay High School students share their experience from developing to performing their Group Performance.

[Music playing]


Hi my name's Anoushka.


I'm Kaia.


And I'm Finn.


And our [INAUDIBLE] advised group performance was Story of a Hat.


So I think one of the main experiences from year 11 that influenced our group project in year 12 was our production at the end of the year.


Working together in a group, we hadn't really done that. We'd done personal IPs, but for the first time really we had to rely on each other and really work together to get a finished production that we could show to an audience.


We learned lots of things from how to convey meaning through dramatic techniques and how to work with each other as an ensemble and improvisation. And how that creates ideas. Studying various types of theater also laid a very important foundation for our group in particular, in respect to the fact that we used different styles of theater like melodrama, theater of cruelty, absurdist theater, and physical theater. We practiced that a lot in year 11.


In year 12 when we did our GP it was imperative that we had that experience. Because without it, I don't think that we would have gotten where we've gotten.


So our ensembles for the GP were chosen mostly by student-- what the students wanted.


So from our production that we had done in year 11, there was definitely connections that were formed between students. For most of us-- for me personally actually-- I didn't know a lot of kids in the production. And we did get to know them because it was such hard work. And then going into year 12 we had that predetermined relationship that it was just kind of natural for us to form a group. And that's kind of just what happened and we were lucky enough to stick that out.


And in our drama classes only two boys. So that was a bit of an argument of like who had the boys on their team or who didn't have the boys on their team. But it actually came together really well because everyone in our class was really good friends, and it was quite easy to sort out.


I feel really lucky because in the end our group kind of got everyone we wanted in it which was very lucky.


We got what we wanted, but the other groups played around with theirs. But essentially we're all very happy with everything.


So our piece is an insider's piece and there's lots of hidden meaning within each scene.


I think while we were making the piece we wanted-- we were stuck on the idea of having this big meaning that was like big message at the end.


Because that's what we thought made good theater. That everything had to have a meaning for it to be intellectual or insightful.


At the end of the creation of it we realized that it's OK for theater to just be a story and not always have a political or really deep meaning at the end.


And so we started just building upon a story and then started weaving in meaning to it. So we looked at the 16 basic human desires on the internet, I found an article. And we started weaving in love into one of our stories, curiosity into another. To be included, to be a part of something. And I think the last one was fear, and we just basically took those basic human desires or premises and weaved them into our story. But saying all that, our story was about having fun. And it was just a telling of something that we made up from nothing, purely just to entertain.


The concept and ideas changed like a million times from the beginning to the end of year 12.


And I think it was good that we weren't afraid to change it. We did push the idea until it couldn't progress anymore. And if we really did feel like it wasn't going anywhere, we weren't scared to kind of just chuck it away and start new. Which was really good. And then as soon as we started new everything just flourished and just flowed out, which was really good.


Yeah so, our piece it rhymes. And at first we didn't do that, and then when we decided that we were going to have interlocking rhythm in our piece, so much changed. we had our script pretty much set and then from then on we had to go back and keep the meaning and keep the idea of it but change all the words. Which was so hard but in the end it was the best that it could have been.


We were doing that all the way up to the day before trials. And then after we got that feedback from trials we kept doing it until [INAUDIBLE]. And we had it probably finished a week before the [INAUDIBLE]. Perfected and everything done.


GP log books were incredibly helpful because I felt like if there was any absence in a class-- like if one student wasn't there, there was always someone that had written something in their log book that was going to help them to pick up what the other students may have talked about in the previous lesson.


My GP log book I found was really helpful for developing ideas and keeping track of everything that we did the time before. It was kind of annoying at the time, but now that I think about it, it was so handy to be able to look back-- like each lesson look back and say, oh yeah, so this is what we talked about.


We used the GP log book to brainstorm ideas, to write out the storyline, to find stimulus. And all these things are really important for the progression and the outcome of the GP.


Also for the script writing it was really helpful because it allowed us heaps of drafts and kind of like perfect it. We tweaked the script in the log book a couple of times. So yeah, I think that really helped.


So a massive challenge for us was in year 11 we'd gotten our relationships forming and then into year 12 we were able to form our GP out of those groups-- out of that group relationship. And we were so lucky that we were able to have the people that we wanted. But yeah, very early into the creation of our GP one of our people left. So we had five, and then we had four.

So we went from having this odd number and ideas for shapes and stage presence and where we were going to be placed here and wherever. Yeah, we lost a person, so we lost all those ideas and had to pretty much restart from the beginning. Which in hindsight ended up working really well for us because our concept that we ended up going with-- with the protagonist and the three guardians-- it really worked super well having the staging for that.


Abundance of ideas-- conflicting ideas, there was just so many of them. And so we couldn't really hook onto one, it took us so long to settle. I think the main problem why that wasn't working is because we were stuck on the idea of finding the idea and then creating a nucleus and then improvising around it. Rather than just improvising around a really simple thing like a word, like most of the other groups did, and then going from that.


Keeping the goal in mind was important because we just used to have fun just making up whatever because we were pretty lost. And it was really good time and it did develop into stuff that we incorporated in our piece, but to always stay on track and keep the goal in mind was important. And that's how we probably finished on time and had an end product. Some important structures that helped in developing slash making out GP were the deadlines that we were given in class.

We would have to perform in front of our peers at least once a week throughout the process. And this also came with the benefit of peer review. Our peers who we trust and we're friends with were able to add anything they thought about what could be improved with our piece. And at the start we didn't have much, we still had to get up on stage and try to do something. But our peers were able to give us some ideas of where we could take our piece. And it really helped in staying positive and reaching that end goal.


So class structure definitely helped for us. We had all our lessons, we had a long lesson and a short lesson, and after our short lesson we actually all had a free period together. Everyone in my group-- yeah, so we basically were lucky enough to have so many structured lessons of drama time that we were just able to work on our piece, which was a bonus because we had basically an extra drama class that not everyone else was lucky enough to have.


Even though we'd talk about going off on our own sides and doing stimulus research and all that, it didn't really go that far when we did that. But it was when we came together in the same room and were able to improvise and write things down together, I think that's when things were actually created. And a long time also, like the long rehearsals in the holidays when we'd rehearse for five hours or four hours, that's when we got so much done.


Reflecting on the experience, I learned a lot about how to work with people. In a drama ensemble you're working really intimately with a group of people. And that's a really different kind of experience. It really taught me to be conscious of people and their ideas.


I also learnt a lot about drama. It changed my idea that it didn't always have to be real serious or really deep or anything like-- something really beautiful about just entertainment.


Don't get too caught up in an idea. If it's not working, it's probably for the best. And I know you might feel like this is the one thing that is going to get you to on stage or to wherever you want to go. If it's not working out with your group sometimes you just need to let it go. And who knows, it might come back around and work for the best.


You want to start early because you can't have too much time-- just the more time you have the better. And also just look around you. What got us started was looking around, being influenced and inspired by other productions that we went and saw. Go see other theater.


Having fun really made the process streamline. It really made the process worthwhile.


Have fun. Have so much fun. I look back on this year and it was one of the best school years of my life. And people talk about it being the most stressful and it definitely was, but I felt like drama was just that one time I could go [EXHALE] and just relax and just have fun with it. Because it is fun and it's very physical and you think about things that you don't get asked to think about in different classes. And I just-- yeah, it was great. So many friends. All it felt like was just a class where I got to create and have fun with my friends, which is the best thing I could have hoped for.

[End of transcript]

Watch the written in the stars video (08:24).

Students from Newtown High School of the Performing Arts share their experience from developing to performing their Group Performance.

[Music playing]


Hi, I'm Grace.

Ella 1

I'm Ella.

Ella 2

I'm also Ella.


I'm Ondine.


And I'm Sophia. Some of the experiences that we brought from year 11 were kind of getting a base understanding of the elements of drama and different theatrical forms, and, you know, physical theater. All of those things that we could bring into our GP.

And we also kind of got an understanding of our class, and who we kind of worked with and who we wanted to work with for our GP. And we'd also kind of done a few, like, group performances for assessments and stuff like that. So we knew the time management and the different, like-- like the way that we kind of need to structure the devising of the performance.


In our class, the groups were chosen sort of because of numbers because we knew that we wanted to have three groups of five. And then we kind of just figured those out by recognizing the people in our class who had similar ideas for the forms and styles they wanted to do. Yeah, and group those together.


Subject 1

Hello, I'm [INAUDIBLE] Good morning!

Subject 2

Guten Morgen! Message from the Fuhrer. Horoscope number--


9909, of the year 1945. [INAUDIBLE].


So we wanted to convey in our group performance our fascination with horoscopes and what is employed within horoscopes, which is the Barnum effect, which is the way that people believe that each-- the way that the horoscopes function to make people believe that each horoscope is specifically for them and personalized, and how that can be kind of used to manipulate people and make them believe anything.

And then we did some research into what was used in World War II, and actually those quite a big-- like, the horoscopes and the occult was a big thing in World War II. And the Nazis actually were really-- like, believed in horoscopes and that type of thing.

So we're really interested in the way that that could translate to a modern context. And if there was like a World War III how the pop culture would play into that. And so we wanted to convey the way that that penetrates into our everyday lives.

Subject 1

The stars aligned? That can't be.

Ella 2

Our idea, script, and concept kind of changed a lot throughout the process. We always knew that we wanted to do our GP on the concept of horoscopes and the Barnum effect. But the way that we framed that concept really changed throughout time.

So we were doing lots of narrative pieces. And we went from an astrology support group to-- and we just really went off track and down a lot of different roads to find our piece in the end. And I don't think it wasn't until after we had performed our GP for a couple of assessments that we really narrowed in on the story that we did.


I was the person out of our GP who was quite crazy about my logbook. Like, I did it pretty often, put in all the ideas of everything. And it really helped, just going back, like, mapping out journey of plotlines, and setting ideas, everything.

Because after a group discussion, we would often voice memo it or something. Then I'd write it down in logbook. And having it in front of you written down was so much help. It was a lot, like, very useful. I would say definitely use your logbook for stuff like that.

So it definitely solidified our ideas to have it concrete in front of us. It was very helpful going back to it.

[Music playing]


So I think with every GP that's made, there are a lot of challenges. And one for us was definitely-- we were all quite busy during year 11, because we did accelerated. So getting us all together at the same time, or we have jobs, like, everyone was just super busy. So getting us all together at the same time was really a challenge. But it was so important, because that's when most of the devising happened. And so it was really important.


And another thing was we all had very different ideas about the level of physicality in the performance. And so we all-- when we were blocking even just one scene, it would take us so long to find one image. Just even like a frozen image. And it took us a long time to confine all of five of our ideas into one.


And also it was hard, because we didn't-- we would block something, and then the next lesson we would have to come back and remember what we blocked. Because you can't just write it down, like. So that's what the logbooks did come in handy. But it was hard to remember what you'd gotten up to and then pick it up exactly where you left off.

Ella 2

And for example, there was a period in the holidays where we were really into the devising of our piece, where I went away for a week. And then I came back and there was so much that I had to learn and fit into during the GP. So that was a bit of a challenge.

Ella 1

And also for the people who were there if Ella was away, because then we would have to make images and scenes with her in them, but she wasn't physically there. So yeah, that was a challenge as well.


When we were kind of creating our GP, it was really a matter of we needed to figure out how to use our time effectively but not go overboard, so that we don't just over-rehearse and kind of just get in our heads. Like we need to figure out a balance between having fun and creating things, but also, you know, knuckling down and writing the script.

So it was kind of-- I guess it was a balance between, like, getting up on our feet and actually doing and creating and doing all this creative stuff, and then writing that down and making sure that we solidified that and moved on. And also, knowing when our assessments were, like, that kind of helped us have goals to work towards. So when we had a time pressure that kind of made us work a little bit harder and kind of stay motivated and stuff like that.

[Music playing]


So, looking back, it was-- like, there was a lot to learn throughout the GP devising and performing experience. And there were a lot of-- like, there's a lot of things I wish I knew. And one of the things that I would say is definitely-- it's going to sound a bit cliche-- but definitely be supportive of your friends in your group.

Like, for example, we all had different assessments going on. And so everyone was understanding if someone had to work on something else, and they had to take a step back from the group for a few days. And then they'd just, yeah, be supportive of that.

Ella 2

And also, I recommend doing other activities with your group that aren't related to the GP. So just fun things like going out to dinner, we did a lot. And that just solidifies that level of friendship that when you go back to the group, it's something that you want to be doing. And there's something fun that you can do with people that you enjoy spending time with.


Yeah. And also, just kind of having fun with actually doing it. Like, it's not just all work. Like, it's kind of fun to create these new things and these new ideas. So it's like, have fun with the group.

Ella 1

So looking back, obviously it is really hard. It's your HSC piece. You have to put heaps of work in, heaps of time, heaps of effort. But at the end of the day, you are creating this, you know, like, really fun piece with all these people who you've known for over three years. Like, you do get a lot out of it. And I think we're all very grateful for the experience.


And our group chat is still going on.




It's true.

Ella 2

To this day.


Honestly, like, we have bonded a lot. It was very difficult in year 11. Like, being accelerated, it was competitive, and it was draining. But it was worth it. Because now we're free of drama, which is--

Ella 1


Ella 2

Yeah. It's sad.


It's tragic. No, but we're-- now we've come out of it. We have a very special bond, our five. And we've created a piece that's out and onstage. We got that. So it was really, it was rewarding.

[Music playing]

[End of transcript]


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Drama Stage 6 Syllabus (2009) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2021.

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