Home > Drama > HSC Course > Individual Project > Performance > Checkpoints, tips, pitfalls
Year 11. terms one two, and three: During this period you
should begin working with short performance pieces that may or may not relate to
your individual performance. Ensure that you know as soon as you begin what the
I.P project performance demands.
Year 11 term four: Look for scripts that will suit your needs.
You may find scripts in complete plays in monologue books or you may wish to
develop your own script. If you develop your own script ensure that the script
is “a complete theatrical statement”. The exam report from 1999 said:
Individual performances need to be a self-contained piece of
theatre. There has been an increase in candidates presenting monologues,
audition pieces or work sourced from the Internet. When approaching such
material, candidates should keep dramatic context and theatricality in mind.
Although there was evidence of outstanding self-devised work, candidates not
proficient in dramatic writing tended to lack theatricality in their
performances. Candidates who choose to write original pieces should be aware of
the need to achieve a high standard of theatricality in their work.
Christmas holidays plus Year 12 term one: Begin performance
practice, before an audience, with a short dramatic work. This may be the piece
you are presenting for the HSC or something else.
Year 12 term two: decide on your piece and perform it within
the set time, remembering you will be stopped if you go overtime.
Year 12 Term 3: Polish your piece and make it performance ready.
- Do I understand the requirements of the project?
- Do I know the type of performance I want to present?
- Have I looked through a large number of scripts?
- Is the text I’m studying being studied by me in any other part of the HSC? (You cannot perform a play you are studying anywhere else in the HSC)
- Have I performed for an audience?
- Have I checked the timing of my performance?
- Have I organised my costume and props?
- Does my performance display strong characterisation?
- Is my performance coherent?
- Do I know my lines?
- see plenty of performances
- get some performance practice
- read past exam reports
- don’t forget it is a performance and not just a speech
- know how to use your voice
- use minimal props
- don’t rush your performance
- ensure you have an appropriate relationship with the audience
- don’t rely heavily on recorded sound
- know your lines
- know your performance space and use it well
A list of pitfalls:
Students fall into these traps:
- thinking they have plenty of time and failing to complete the performance project
- not knowing the lines
- not working with an audience during the development of the performance.
- leaving all your performance until the last moment
- relying too heavily on props, costume or sound during the performance.
- going overtime
- going undertime
Possible themes, situations, characters, settings, performance styles and other material that interests the student.
Students should select material which interests them and has possibilities.
Collect newspaper and magazine articles, samples of scripts, extracts from plays, poems, monologues, short stories, pictures,
song lyrics, letters, scenarios or advertisements.
Trial some of the material by reading, dramatising
and improvising dialogue, movement and theatrical styles. (This could be done with partners).
Shape and analyse your material
Select, write, redraft, adapt and edit while focussing on the idea of a one-person performance. At this point
a concept should begin to emerge from the material.
The performance at this stage may be a work
in progress which will eventually evolve into a full performance.
Staging the material
Consider the material in terms of a whole integrated
theatrical performance. There needs to be a sense of a beginning, middle
and end within the performance. It is not simply an audition piece. The
following questions need to be considered:
- What is engaging about the performance? How can the engaging elements be emphasised?
- Is it clear what the performance is about?
- What are the key moments? How do the staging andbtheatrical techniques heighten these moments?
- How are setting, mood, situation and character established?
- Is there enough variety, i.e light and shade ?
- Does the blocking keep the audience interested?
- Are there any transitional moments? How do these add to the performance rather than detract from it?
- How does the character develop within the piece?
- Is the stage space used effectively, maintaining a clear actor audience relationship?
Creating the character
Students should have developed reasonable skills
and resources for creating and developing a character in the preliminary
course. These skills should be used as the basis for character development.
The following strategies will help students create a character;
- Develop a character profile.
- Analyse the character's motivation and subtext.
- Exercises in physicalising the character: stance, movement, gestures and facial expression.
- Develop the character's voice, focusing on key words, expression, timing, etc.
- Create a sense of the character's development from start to finish.
- Incorporate business (attributes and actions) that reflects the character and his or her emotional state.
- Include essential props and costumes.
- Hotseat and use other belief building exercises that involve the rest of the class.
Adding production elements
Students need to approach this area with caution.
An over reliance on production effects can detract from an effective performance.
The rule of thumb is that the focus should always remain on the performer
and production effects should be minimal and limited to those essential
to the work's meaning (Creative Arts KLA Handbook. Page 69).
- Setting: use only what is required on stage to suggest the setting, or what is actually used by the performer.
- Costumes: costumes should complement and enhance the character. Remember that performers in dark colours can be lost against a dark background.
- Sound: often provides an effective introduction to the mood and location. It may also give a performance a sense of completion
or provide a heightened effect to a dramatic moment. Ensure you obtain
a good quality recording.
- Lighting: should be kept simple and not used to solve
staging problems. It is usually best to use the lights up at the start
and lights down at the end approach. Avoid a blackout during an individual
Rehearsing the performance
The following steps can be used by students to bring the performance to its final stage:
- Book the performance space early and organise for
the technician, partner or teacher to sit in with a stopwatch. Seat your
partner with the stopwatch in the centre of the audience and organise the
performance space appropriately.
- Ensure that the technician has a clear running script with sound and lighting cues clearly marked.
- Do a technical run to clarify cue moments for the technician.
- Perform the whole piece without stopping, even if
- Check your time at the end of the performance and evaluate with your partner the strengths and weaknesses of the performance.
Remember your partner is not the director.
- Reflect in your logbook, and plan modifications to your project.
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