HSC Drama Prescriptions 2015-2017

Keep Calm and Get Excited

Get excited people! The new prescriptions are here! At first glance there has been a fair amount of reshuffle. New stimulus words for the Group Performance and Ruby Moon is gone from Contemporary Australian Theatre Practice (although I will still post my lesson ideas because we could use them in Year 11!). Still Angela and A Beautiful Life  have also gone (only Stolen remains). Irish and American Drama, Brecht, Site Specific and Event Theatre are gone, replaced by Multi-Discipline Theatre, Japanese Traditional and Contemporary Theatre, Verbatim Theatre in Australia (not just Verbatim Theatre) and Significant Plays of the 20th Century.

So, what do you think? I am sure everyone is going to have lots of fun planning great new units and purchasing resources with our budgets.

These changes are effective for Year 12 students beginning the HSC at the end of 2014 and finishing it in 2015. These texts can all change or in part every three years.

You can find the PDF document from the NSW Board of Studies here. Happy reading!

Image Credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-get-excited-52/


Attempting a Director’s Concept

The other week I posted a writing scaffold for writing a Director’s Concept. I mentioned that I had learnt a lot more about this area from having completed a Directing for the Stage course at NIDA. I wanted to share with you some of the photos of my concept that I had to pitch to the class for the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.

It was a tricky play to come up with a concept for because there is the element of fate and whether or not everything that happened in the play was determined by it or not. We needed to each decide what our view was on that. With the added pressure of working full time there was little time to give the piece much thought. So it forced me to trust my gut.

I went with the idea of using ice throughout the set (we had an unlimited budget). I was working from the idea that we needed tangible verbs to explain our concept. I looked at what ice symbolised and how I could link it to the concept. I then had to build a set model. It was interesting to see how people interpreted my idea because what I was thinking in my head is not what people saw! Suffice to say, my tutor made some “edits” to the concept and what I ended up with was the last picture. A white box. Representing a block of ice that melts as the show progresses.

The lesson I took from devising my own concept was to move away from using symbol and instead find a metaphor. The tension that would be created through the use of the block of ice would be far more engaging than what I had originally which was rather dream like and fantastical. April 2013 057

April 2013 058

April 2013 059

April 2013 060

April 2013 061

April 2013 062

April 2013 063

April 2013 064

April 2013 065

Daring to Share Our Dramatics Online

I’ve blogged about my foray into student blogging before (here and here). It was a mild success for me last year with more than half the class creating their own personal online logbooks or “blogbooks” as I now call them. They weren’t diligently maintained however. Nor was the class blog that was linked to them.

With a little reflection and a redefined direction I am relaunching the class blog this term with a new plan of attack for how to post on the class blog and the expectations for the student blogs.

The class blog will be simplified. I think initially I had huge, grandiose ideas in my head thinking that there would be a mammoth amount of work required to maintain it. In reality though, blogs grow naturally, so however small or simply they begin, they will flourish and change with time. So in the end, it really doesn’t matter what I start with. It’s a blank canvas that needs paintaing.

I knew that it was about sharing our work in drama class with the intention of connecting with other classes. That is what I have done. Both Year 10 and Year 12 are in the process of devising their Group Performance. We will share photos and stories from our lessons. The school community have been informed about it through our school newsletter and I will let them know through our school Facebook page as well. I will also encourage my own Twitter followers to head on over, have a look and comment.

The individual blogbooks will represent each individual’s participation in the group project. What scenes and ideas they have had, what problems they have encountered and how they solved them, all the while thinking about their digital citizenship and their need to remember that their blog is public and has the intention of informing and assisting others with their understanding of Drama.

So. Drumroll please. May I present…

St Clair High Drama: Daring to Share Our Dramatics Online

Head on over and write us a welcome comment!

Image Credit: The Endeavour Lifts Off, Stuck in Customs, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

10 Textbooks No Drama Teacher Should Be Without

I was having a moment the other day. One of those out of body experiences where you watch the chaos around you in the classroom and think to yourself, “How crazy is this?”, “Is this for real?” and “What the hell is little Johnny doing?”, “What the hell am I doing?” I have them occasionally and it just reminds me how incredible teachers are. We seem to battle on through amidst the seeming chaos.

I guess those experiences also remind me how far I’ve come in my five years of teaching. That ability to watch what is happening in front of me and laugh and know that it’s not the end of the world and if I had to tell new, beginning teacher’s what to expect and how to react, reacting the way I did the other day (watching everything happen in slow motion and as though it’s something out of a B Grade movie), is perfectly healthy and necessary at times.

I would also tell my beginning Drama teacher’s: don’t ever be stuck for resources. Utilise your school library and make sure it stocks not only the best plays and resource material for student’s but also resource material for yourself. Make friends with your librarian 🙂

Utilise every possible Professional Development day you can. Work towards some goals. Be realistic about those goals and know that it’s not possible to achieve everything you want to in your first year and that in every school you work at for your entire career the goals and expectations you have will be different because every school is different. Perhaps in your first year your goal will be about managing behaviour. The following year it might be how you teach a particular theatrical style or play. By having a goal to work towards it will make it easier to choose a course to take for Professional Development.

Over the years I have made sure my library is up to date with all the play scripts that are on the prescribed text list and added a few extra text books just for extra reference for myself and the student’s. I like walking into the library and going over to the theatre section a lot. It inspires me. I don’t even have to open any of the books. It just telepathically fills me with ideas. It’s funny like that.

Here are my ten text books that I cannot live without:

1. Acting in Person and In Style Australia by Carol Wimmer – I use this book a lot when I am teaching monologues, duologues, acting skills (voice workshops). It is also brilliant for teaching a range of performance styles.

2. Dramawise by Brad Haseman – The bible full of exercises for explicitly teaching the elements of drama. I highly recommend this book as a starting point for beginning teachers.

3. You’re On by Rob Galbraith – Another fantastic text with exercises to teach students about performance elements as well as the roles of people behind the scenes. 

4. Living Drama by Bruce Burton – This is actually part of a three part series (Making Drama and Creating Drama are his titles for lower secondary drama students) and is best used with senior students. It looks at aspects of drama in a slightly more sophisticated way which is applicable to senior students and their essays.

5. Navigating Drama by Richard Baines and Mike O’Brien – A great text for students in Year 9-10 Drama. Some of the particularly helpful sections include the playbuiding chapter and the commedia dell arte chapter.

6. Navigating Senior Drama by Richard Baines and Mike O’Brien – I like this senior text because of its focus on the NSW Drama Syllabus. It has focus chapters on Australian Drama and Theatre which forms part of the theory component of the course as well as a section specifically devoted to some of the Studies in Drama and Theatre topics (Brecht, Greek Theatre and American Drama). It also has good chapters on the Group and Individual Performance units.

7. Centre Stage by Matthew Clausen –  Great teaching suggestions plus some really great templates for teaching the elements of production including costume design and lighting and sound plotting.

8. Lighting and Sound by Neil Fraser – everything you need to know about lighting and sound in a simple easy to understand way. Absolute gold.

9. Stage Design and Props by Michael Holt – As above. An absolute gem of a book if you want to learn about set design and making.

10. Costume and Make-Up by Michael Holt Ditto as above.

Oh, and if I haven’t mentioned it before Improvisation: A Guide by Lyn Pierse. Absolutely excellent for anything Theatre Sports or improvisation related. Oh, oh, oh and if you’re teaching Publicity and Program Design try Stage Management and Theatre Administration by Pauline Menear and Terry Hawkins.

Have you got a text book that you swear by? Share it with us in the comments.

Image Credits: T’aiuto io, tassomanAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)