Acting out and performing
There are a set of objectives in strand 4 which involve children presenting ideas theatrically. Material for performance is based on known stories, or invented narratives developed through improvisation or from scripts. The quality of the performance is improved through the use of dialogue and different conventions to convey ideas dramatically, taking into account the needs of the audience.
Give children opportunities to:
- present drama work, based on material developed from improvisation, known and invented stories and playscripts
- consider how to present and link different drama conventions in ways which are theatrically effective
- develop their skills in using voice, movement and gesture to convey meaning when acting out for an audience
- develop confidence in working in front of an audience
- rehearse, evaluate and improve their work
- work in groups of different sizes and take different roles within the group, e.g. director, actor, stage manager, etc.
- stage work, considering how to use props, background scenery, costume, sound effects, etc. to enhance effects.
Teaching and learning
To develop children’s skills, teachers might:
- enable children to work creatively with others, e.g. by providing engaging starting points which raise problems which can be solved
- help children understand the theatrical potential of different drama strategies
- introduce and use a vocabulary for talking about performances
- model different ways of planning, noting and writing scripts, e.g. storyboards
- create opportunities for children to design sets, costumes and consider staging
- explore how different effects, e.g. lighting, sound, colour, can enhance presentations
- make links between children’s own improvisational work, the performances they see and their own performances for an audience.
At the early stages, children could:
- act out known and invented stories, emphasising the narrative sequence and telling a complete story
- emphasise some key moments in their presentation, e.g. highlighting Jack’s anxiety to hide from the giant by using exaggerated movements when staging a version of the traditional tale
- rehearse aspects of a presentation, e.g. dialogue between characters, so that ideas are clearly conveyed.
As part of a more experienced class/group, children could:
- develop performances for an audience, by e.g. emphasising aspects such as character and theme as well as narrative, highlighting moments of tension and exploring and solving problems
- use different drama conventions to shape short extracts of text for performance
- discuss how to stage performances considering how light, sound, props, etc. can be used to enhance the meaning.
As part of an experienced, confident class/group, children could:
- direct others when rehearsing a performance
- consider alternative approaches to staging ideas or interpreting a script, e.g. using the forum theatre convention to explore alternative interpretations of a character’s motivation
- improve work by evaluating it from the point of view of an audience.
Example of classroom practice
A Year 6 class, who were quite experienced in drama work, worked on a presentation of Berlie Doherty’s Children of Winter. As well as reading the novel and viewing a television production, they acted out a number of key scenes, initially using a freeze-frame technique. A particular difficulty they identified in their early group work was how to suggest the time shift from the present to the past. Different groups represented the shift from the present to the days of the plague by using slow-motion action, a strobe lighting effect, a moment of stillness or the use of sound effects. After some discussion, the class agreed that sound was the most effective way of suggesting the change in the setting. Ultimately a crescendo was developed using drums; the actors playing the children were still until the sound died. This convention was adopted by all the groups and was used in the final presentation of the key scenes from the novel which was performed for parents as part of a ‘leavers’ assembly’.
Units which include performance of scripts and improvised work:
Year 2 Narrative unit 4 Extended stories/Significant authors
Year 4 Narrative unit 5 Plays
Year 5 Additional unit on Street child and transition unit (The Highwayman)
Year 5 Narrative unit 6 Dramatic conventions
Use of resources like storyboards, in both paper and electronic forms, helps children plan their work. Recording extracts, for example by using the recorder tool in interactive whiteboard software, enables evaluation and review which can inform subsequent rehearsal.
Work on staging has many potential links with work across the curriculum including art and design and technology, as well as both reading and writing in English.
Some theatres and companies have education officers who will visit schools to support practical work, particularly when this is linked to plays in production.