Drama resources

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) drama page contains the syllabus and support materials including the course prescriptions, a sample assessment schedule, HSC exam specifications, advice for HSC performances, marking guidelines for practical tasks, standards materials and past papers.

Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) presents school productions, teacher training and workshops for secondary and primary students as well as drama, English and entertainment teachers.

The English National Theatre provides resource packs of current and past productions as well as a virtual tour of the venue.

The NSW Arts unit offers professional learning workshops and opportunities for teachers of the arts, including drama.

Sample assessment task

The following sample assessment task is for a study of Thornton Wilder's play, Our Town.

There are two parts to this task.

  • Part A – performance essay (20 marks)
  • Part B – two extended responses of between 400 and 600 words each (10 marks each)

Outcomes

A student:

H1.2 uses performance skills to interpret and perform other scripted material
H2.2 uses dramatic and theatrical elements effectively to engage an audience
H2.3 demonstrates directorial skills for theatre and other media
H2.4 appreciates the dynamics of drama as a performing art
H3.1 critically applies understanding of the cultural, historical and political contexts that have influenced specific drama and theatre practitioners, styles and movements
H3.2 analyses, synthesises and organises knowledge, information and opinion in coherent, informed oral and written responses
H3.3 demonstrates understanding of the actor-audience relationship in various dramatic and theatrical styles and movements.

© Board of Studies, Drama Stage 6 Syllabus, 2009

Task description

PART A (20 Marks) – performance essay – in groups of 1–3 present a performance essay for the following question.

How are the elements of drama manipulated to engage the audience in the two plays you have studied?

Each person in the group is to consider one element of drama. Each person’s section of the performance essay must be submitted in writing. Each person has a performance time limit of 3–5 minutes.

PART B (20 Marks) – extended response questions

  1. To what extent are the plays you have studied a reflection of Australian society? Your answer should consider the views of the playwrights, and the social, historical and cultural references the plays make in regards to Australian society.
  2. How do the plays you have studied accept or reject the conventions of traditional Australian drama? Your answer should show an appreciation of how the style of realism is manipulated in both plays.

Write 400–600 words for each response.

Performance essay

A performance essay is a moved presentation of the theoretical information inside an essay. It is usually done in documentary style with a narrator moving in, out, and around selected scene extracts – explaining their relevance to the question. The key to a good performance essay is to ensure the information is informative and engaging.

The following example is an extract from a performance essay showing how the dramatic element of tension is manipulated in Act III of the Thornton Wilder play, Our Town. The text is read aloud by a narrator while the extracts from the play are performed by both the narrator and another actor.

Following the funeral of Emily we see an attempt by her to return to the world of the living. This ultimately, unsuccessful attempt, creates tension between the two worlds of ‘life’ and ‘death’.

[The actors playing Emily and Mrs Webb begin to act out the scene. They freeze at the point where Emily tries to tell her mother she is dead.]

You will have noticed the characters seem unwilling to look at each other. By employing this simple technique of movement, in this case no eye contact between the characters, significant tension is created. As an audience we are longing for Emily’s mother to acknowledge her daughter, but we know this cannot happen.

[The actors continue to act out the scene until Emily is 'ready to go back'.]

Emily's final departure presents an unresolved climax. She has died and there is no chance for her to gain closure with what she acknowledges is a lacklustre past. There is also significant dramatic irony within the scene as we, the audience, know that Emily is dead, whereas Mrs Gibbs is unaware of this fact. This creates a sense of dread, in that we know there is much sadness ahead for the family.

Marking guidelines – Part A

These guidelines are used to mark the collaborative task.

MarksCriteria
17–20
  • Demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of both plays in relation to the chosen elements of drama.
  • Presents relevant examples in a highly engaging and sophisticated manner on stage.
  • Answers the question in a cohesive and coherent manner.
13–16
  • Demonstrates a thorough understanding of both plays in relation to the chosen elements of drama.
  • Presents relevant examples in an engaging and considered manner on stage.
  • Answers the question in a cohesive and coherent manner.
9–12
  • Demonstrates a sound understanding of both plays in relation to the chosen elements of drama, one play may be dealt with in more detail than the other.
  • Presents examples in a somewhat engaging and generally cohesive manner on stage manner on stage.
  • Answers the question in a coherent manner.
5–8
  • Demonstrates a basic understanding of both plays in relation to elements of drama.
  • Presents examples which are inconsistent with the chosen element/s of drama with limited consideration of staging.
  • Attempts to answer the question in a somewhat coherent manner.
1–4
  • Demonstrates limited understanding of the play/s in relation to elements of drama.
  • Examples do not reflect chosen element of drama.
  • Limited response.

Marking guidelines – Part B

Each of the two responses is marked separately.

MarksCriteria
9–10
  • Demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of both plays in relation to the question.
  • Demonstrates exemplary knowledge of the content and theatrical techniques of both plays in relation to the question.
  • Answers the question in a cohesive and coherent manner.
7–8
  • Demonstrates a thorough understanding of both plays in relation to the question.
  • Demonstrates thorough knowledge of the content and theatrical techniques of both plays in relation to the question.
  • Answers the question in a cohesive and coherent manner.
5–6
  • Demonstrates a sound understanding of both plays in relation to the question, one play may be discussed in more detail than the other.
  • Demonstrates sound knowledge of the content and theatrical techniques of both plays in relation to the question.
  • Answers the question in a coherent manner.
3–4
  • Demonstrates basic understanding of the play/s in relation to the question.
  • Demonstrates basic knowledge of the content and theatrical techniques of the play/s in relation to the question.
  • Attempts to answer the question in a somewhat coherent manner.
1–2
  • Demonstrates limited knowledge or understanding of the play/s or the theatrical techniques.
  • Presents limited response.

The Logbook checklist (DOCX 44.2KB) provides teachers with a straightforward guide for suggested logbook inclusions. By following this list, teachers can monitor their student's process through the individual project/group performance through a rich investigative procedure.

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