Advanced Higher Drama

"You may play well or you may play badly; the important thing is that you should play truly" Mikhail Shchepkin

Course and Assessment Description

Advanced Higher Drama is an exciting, interesting and demanding subject, which requires self-motivated study from the students. The course is taught in more of a 'university/drama school' style with lectures, tutorials and practical workshop-type study. This means that considerable background reading is required for students to be prepared for both the theoretical and practical aspects to the work. The course is thus a valuable one for those seeking to develop independent learning skills and smooth transition to higher education.

The course consists of two component units and the Course Assessment.

Drama Skills: This unit offers each Advanced Higher student the reward of their own individual moment of self-expression, where they will write and direct others in the performance of their own unique piece of theatre. The unit will focus on students developing their knowledge of methodologies, theatre practices and texts to progress their devising, directing and performing skills. Their knowledge and skills will be informed by the work of Konstantin Stanislavski and Bertolt Brecht. They will explore the role and craft of the actor, director, and designer through devised activities. They will independently create a devised drama production, using their dramatic interpretation of source materials. This will explore how meaning can be communicated to an audience through the practical realisation of their own theatrical concepts. Students will also evaluate the effectiveness of their concepts.

Drama: Production Skills: In this Unit, students will focus on a study of at least one key theatre practitioner, and explore in depth the influences on the theory and practice of their chosen practitioner. They will explore and analyse their practitioner's key productions that reflect their acting or directing or design methodologies and draw comparisons with current practice through both research and live theatrical performance (this will include relevant theatre visits and live digital screenings by arrangement with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Old Vic).

Home Study and Research
A considerable amount of independent home study and a wide range of personal reading and research will be required for this course. This will include the detailed academic investigation of a topic of their choosing which will ultimately be presented in dissertation form. The investigative element of the course will be guided, but will require a high degree of self-organisation and motivation.

Course Assessment
For the final course assessment, students will draw on, extend and apply the skills they have learned during their learning. This will be assessed through a performance and a project (dissertation). The performance will involve the advanced interpretation and presentation of a classic text. The project (dissertation) will require demonstration of a depth of knowledge and understanding of a topic and theatrical practitioner of the student's own selection.

Project (dissertation)
In this assessment, students will produce a dissertation of between 2,500 and 3,000 words on a performance issue of their choice. This word length is appropriate to the complexity of the task, and will allow them to conduct an in depth study of their chosen issue.

The performance has two sections: a performance and a short essay detailing the preparatory process.

Section A, titled ‘Preparation for Performance’.
Students will have selected a text to explore in depth from the perspective of an actor or director or designer. The short essay will include research on the chosen text (texts for actors) and the processes used to reach their acting or directing or design concept for the performance.

Section B, titled ‘Performance’.
Actors — Actors should prepare two contrasting roles. One role must involve interaction with at least one other actor and the other role must be a monologue. The total time for both acting roles will be approximately 20 minutes, with the monologue lasting approximately 3 minutes.
Directors — The director will prepare to direct a substantial extract of their chosen text (i.e. an act). For their performance assessment, they will conduct a rehearsal with actors from a textual extract of approximately 3 pages selected by the Visiting Assessor. The rehearsal should last approximately 40 minutes.
Designers — Students will design a set for their chosen text and choose two other related production roles. They will demonstrate their design concept for the play (this may be through the production of plans, drawings, designs, plot sheets, mood boards etc.); produce a scale set model and designs/drawings/cue sheets for the two additional production roles (props and set dressing, costume, make-up and hair, lighting, sound and/or media design). They will be given the opportunity to present their work to the Visiting Assessor, and this should last approximately 20 minutes.