Pages  Advice for teachers - Drama (2023)

A course outlines the nature and sequence of teaching and learning necessary for students to demonstrate achievement of the set of outcomes for a unit. The areas of study broadly describe the learning context and the knowledge required for the demonstration of each outcome. Outcomes are introduced by summary statements and are followed by the key knowledge and key skills which relate to the outcomes.

Teachers must develop courses that include appropriate learning activities to enable students to develop the key knowledge and key skills identified in the outcome statements in each unit.

Courses must be developed within the framework of the study design: the areas of study, outcome statements, and key knowledge and key skills.

For Units 1 and 2, teachers must select assessment tasks from the list provided. A variety of tasks should be provided and the mix of tasks should reflect the fact that different types of tasks suit different knowledge and skills and different learning styles. Tasks do not have to be lengthy in order for a teacher to make a decision about student demonstration of achievement of an outcome.

In Units 3 and 4, assessment is more structured. For Unit 3, Outcomes 1, 2 and 3, and Unit 4, Outcomes 1 and 3, the assessment tasks for School-assessed Coursework are prescribed. The contribution that each outcome makes to the total score for School-assessed Coursework is also stipulated.

Teachers must develop courses that include appropriate learning activities to enable students to develop the knowledge and skills identified in the outcome statements in each unit.

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In developing courses for VCE Drama, it is important to interweave the theoretical with the practical application of theories and experiences. The following information outlines factors that teachers need to consider when developing their program and provides examples of possible approaches.

Devised Drama

In VCE Drama, all performance work is created and developed by the students. Drama students are play-makers and actors who create and present original performances that do not seek to re-create real life as it is lived. Each devised work has a creative process that encompasses a range of play-making techniques. Teachers should develop a course that introduces students to different ways of exploring the dramatic potential of stimulus material. Students use creative processes that draw from the work of drama practitioners and make decisions about how to shape and define their performances using relevant performance styles, often to create eclectic theatre.

In VCE Drama, stimulus material is used as the starting point of the play-making process. Teachers provide stimulus material for all devised work except the solo performance for Unit 4, Outcome 2 (end-of-year performance examination). The VCAA publishes the stimulus material for that examination annually.

In each unit, students should be provided with stimulus material in a range of forms that are appropriate to the task. A range of stimuli is suggested in the VCE Drama Study Design on page 12.

When developing a course, teachers need to structure stimulus material so that it is associated with a comprehensive and prescribed task. Students need to have sufficient stimulus material and information in order to begin and complete the devising process. Learning activities should enable students to develop an understanding of the ways in which stimulus material can be used to devise drama in such a way that it does not seek to re-create real life as it is lived. This is a requirement across all four units. This process may include structuring stimulus material to introduce students to a particular performance style. Stimulus material may also be tailored to specific areas of the course, such as conventions, dramatic elements or play-making techniques.

Play-making techniques

In response to stimulus material (docx - 54.64kb), students use play-making techniques as a set of tools that underpin the creative process. Each of the techniques should be used and each one may be revisited throughout the devising process.

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Play-making technique ​Ideas


​Use the stimulus provided to collect further material and information about stories, people, cultures, facts, opinions, statistics. This may include poems, cartoons, song lyrics, pictures, photographs.


​Place the research findings in any order in an electronic or paper journal, or on a sheet of butchers paper, or a white board. Consider ideas suggested by the material. Make links between the ideas. Diagrammatically, or visually, represent the ideas through the use of charts, mind maps, or in a cartoon format.

Explore and document potential characters, settings, themes, dramatic moments, production areas, dramatic elements, performance styles, conventions.


​Role-play to explore an idea for a scene, or a dramatic moment, or potential threads in the story or narrative.

Experiment with different ways of presenting a scene, such as: using only words, only mime or gesture, a symbolic representation, or just using sounds and movement.

Physically explore different ways of ordering the material: to create meaning, to consider the intended dramatic effect, to manipulate dramatic elements of rhythm, tension, contrast and climax.

Experiment with:

  • different performance styles and ways of using conventions
  • hot-seating to explore aspects and back stories of characters
  • personification (docx - 53.16kb) (physicalising objects or locations to create characters).


​Develop a working script that documents ideas, dramatic moments, scenes etc. as a record of what has been accomplished. The script may or may not have dialogue, but should include the key ideas being explored and the intended shape of the drama.


Review material developed through improvisation and scripting. Order and develop scenes/moments to build the dramatic form and shape of the narrative. Condense ideas to intensify the narrative through action rather than dialogue. Consider and include specific performance styles or conventions. Transition from one scene to another and transition between characters, time and place. Ensure application of symbol.


​Block and run the work. Trial ways of applying expressive and performance skills to effectively and meaningfully present and communicate characters and ideas. Use production areas (props, sets, costumes, etc.). Establish an actor-audience relationship. Build confidence as an actor.


​Seek and implement feedback. Ensure the performance meets requirements such as a time limit, transformations and symbol, dramatic elements, performance styles and conventions that do not re-create real life as it is lived. Deepen communication of ideas by exaggerating aspects of the performance; for example, using heightened language or extending the use of symbol, gesture or movement.


In VCE Drama, students use creative processes to devise original drama work and are not required to read or interpret pre-existing scripts (docx - 56.85kb)by other drama practitioners.

Scripts created by other drama practitioners

If available, scripts by other drama practitioners may be used to prepare for Unit 1, Outcome 4 (analysing a professional drama performance), Unit 2, Outcome 4 (analysing an Australian drama performance) and Unit 3, Outcome 3 (analysing and evaluating a professional drama performance).

Using scripts created by other drama practitioners in different learning activities

Scripts created by other drama practitioners may be used as stimulus material or as further reading to guide and focus the development of devised solo and ensemble performances across Units 1 to 4. Drama script excerpts may be used in learning activities with a specific focus on areas of terminology such as: performance styles, manipulation of dramatic elements, play-making techniques.

Eclectic theatre

Eclectic theatre juxtaposes the conventions of a combination of performance styles to make dramatic statements and performances that go beyond the reality of life as it is lived. Eclectic theatre contains a variety of forms and is innovative, transformational and creative. Generally, it should be possible to identify at least three performance styles in students’ play-making; two of which may be obvious and the third may be visible in one aspect of the performance. For example: storytelling illustrated by the use of physical theatre and Grotowski’s use of object transformation, with comments by a Greek chorus.

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Across Units 1 to 4, students should be exposed to learning activities that build their knowledge and skill in applying a range of performance styles (docx - 54.16kb) to create eclectic theatre by experimenting with:

  • use of conventions including application of symbol and transformation of character and/or time and/or place
  • expressive skills and performance skills
  • use of dramatic elements
  • use of production areas.


In VCE Drama, students study the conventions associated with selected performance styles. Across Units 1 to 4 they also study the conventions of application of symbol and transformation of character, time and place to be used in devised performances.

Students need to develop skills in transforming character, time and place. These transformations (docx - 53.39kb) should be consistently integrated into all of their devised performance work. The process of changing or transforming seamlessly is a feature of devised performance work. This may be explored through workshops and using stimulus material to specifically target transformation techniques (such as using an action, gesture or heightened language). Examples of transformation techniques include: snapping, morphing/melding, giving and taking, action and reaction, use of production areas, use of a sound/word, use of an action or gesture, use of heightened language and repetition. Actors may also explore the speed of the transition; for example, slow motion, fast-forward or reverse. Application of symbol may assist with transformation.

Application of symbol

Application of symbol is used to create broader meaning that is not the literal suggestion. It heightens and reinforces themes, or offers a deeper interpretation of an idea or concept. Application of symbol (docx - 54.34kb)allows actors to communicate ideas and themes through use of language (poetic and exaggerated, repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance) action, gesture, heightened movement (may be overstated or exaggerated) vocal or facial expression (vocal sounds, nonverbal communication of emotion or meaning through facial expressions), production areas (props, costume, sound design, make-up, lighting, set pieces, puppetry, mask, theatre technologies). Application of symbol may assist transformations.

Expressive skills

In VCE Drama, students use the expressive skills of voice, movement, gesture and facial expression to express and realise a character. Across Units 1 to 4 students should explore ways of using the expressive skills to construct characters and to communicate stories.

Students may perform a scene using only movement and gesture and seek feedback from an audience about the clarity of their meaning. Students may also experiment with use of expressive skills to explore specific techniques, such as those associated with a performance style. For example: Artaud’s dreamscape through synchronised movement; clowning communicated through gesture and facial expression.

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As students develop their ability to apply expressive skills, they should also discuss their work and the work of others, to build their capacity and vocabulary to analyse an actor’s use of expressive skills. The following are suggested ways for teachers to assist students in developing their expressive skills.

  • Voice – workshops or exercises focusing on three main areas: resonance, muscularity (articulation) and diction. Explore finding the need to speak: what do we want our audience and the student actor to do, feel, think or understand in each moment? Create images for the text: picturing what you say as you are saying it. Develop a phono-aesthetic awareness: explore the beauty of sound, which may include use of rhythm and patterns such as alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, consonance, long-short vowels, etc.
  • Movement – workshops based on Laban techniques, exploring the ways actors move through space to communicate characters. Explore mime and the use of movement to convey meaning without words. For example, students use mime to improvise a scene in a restaurant where things go progressively wrong (food poisoning, excessive alcohol consumption, dancing on a table, an unrequited love interest, an allergic reaction, a theft, no money to pay the bill, etc.).
  • Gesture – using the body or body parts, usually the hands, to create symbols and meaning. Gestures may be partial or full body and may be exaggerated and abstract. For example, Pina Bausch or Brecht’s use of gestures.
  • Facial expression – exercises focusing on miming reactions to words, moments or feelings. Use exaggerated expressions to communicate emotions, reactions and meaning. Focus on specific areas of the face so the eyebrows or nose are leading, etc. For example: students bring their awareness to their lips. The bottom lip protrudes and they observe what other physical and vocal mannerisms might appear in response to this pout. Characters and emotional states will emerge by working from the outside in. The physical leads to the emotional.
    Note: This may be used with other expressive skills.

Performance skills

The performance skills of timing, energy, focus and actor-audience relationship should be explored through practical workshops, the devising process and an analysis of other actors’ work. As with expressive skills, performance skills may be used individually and in combination with each other. Students should develop an awareness of particular ways that performance skills are used effectively, for example:

  • energy to create tension
  • focus to establish an implied person
  • actor–audience relationship to manipulate emotions through direct audience address.

Performance skills may also be linked to performance styles; for example, by exploring use of timing to create comedy in slapstick or clowning.

See Terms used in this study (pdf - 239.47kb) in the VCE Drama Study Design page 9.

Production areas

In VCE Drama, production areas (docx - 52.36kb) encompass the technical elements that are used within a performance. They work together to establish the place, time and characters. They contribute to the mood of the piece and have a direct link to the selected performance style/s. For the purposes of VCE Drama, the production areas will be used to support a range of performance styles and will not seek to re-create real life as it is lived. They may be used symbolically, tokenisitically, partially or minimally. The production areas are designed to help realise the dramatic potential of the stimulus material. They do not drive the process, they support the realisation of the performance.

A list of suitable resources for this study has been compiled and is available via the Drama study page on the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority website.

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What are the 4 expressive skills in drama? ›

Expressive skills are used to express and realise a character. Expressive skills may be used in different ways in different performance styles. The Study Design for VCE Drama describes four expressive skills: voice; movement; gesture; and facial expression.

What are VCE drama conventions? ›

The dramatic elements for VCE Drama are climax, conflict, contrast, mood, rhythm, sound, space and tension.

What are the three defining conventions of eclectic Theatre? ›

Eclectic theatre contains a variety of forms and is innovative, transformational and creative.

What are the playmaking techniques in VCE drama? ›

There are many play-making techniques. For the purposes of this study, play-making techniques are: researching • brainstorming • improvising • scripting • editing • rehearsing • refining.

What are the 5 C's in drama? ›

Pupils are taught 'the 5C's of Drama' Cooperation, Confidence, Communication, Concentration and Commitment, these life skills alongside Stanislavski's 6 core skills of an actor; facial expression, body language, gestures, movement, space, voice/tone are the basis for the first three years of study.

What are the 6 C's in drama? ›

Pupils learn the 6 'Cs' of Drama: Communication, Courage, Consideration, Commitment, Co-operation and Concentration – these skills are the foundation to success in Drama and Theatre.

What are the 3 categories of the elements of drama? ›

Elements of Drama: The elements of drama can be categorized into three major areas: literary elements, technical elements, and performance elements.

What are drama techniques? ›

Drama techniques include voice, body, movement, and use of space. Voice includes: pitch, pace, pause, projection, tone, volume. Body includes: posture, gesture, facial expressions, eye-contact. Movement includes: pace, weight, energy, direction, pathways.

What are drama conventions 3 examples? ›

A drama convention is where the actions of an actor/actress are decided by the writer or director and are done so to have dramatic, or desired effects. I want to focus in on three conventions, improvisation, mime, and soliloquy.

What are the 6 elements of theatre? ›

The 6 Aristotelean elements are plot, character, thought, diction, spectacle, and song. Below are the definitions I utilize to better understand the way in which each element helps me build a play.

What are the 5 theatre elements? ›

Plot, character, tension, language and spectacle are evident in all of the best plays, TV shows and films. These elements form the basis of any great drama and it is interesting to see how different artists use them to tell a story.

What are poor Theatre techniques? ›

Grotowski coined the term 'poor theatre', defining a performance style that rid itself of the excesses of theatre, such as lavish costumes and detailed sets (hence 'poor'). Poor Theatre pieces centre on the actor's skill and are often performed with only a handful of props.

What are the 7 devising skills in drama? ›

  • What is devising?
  • Choosing a stimulus.
  • Researching the stimulus.
  • Establishing aims and objectives.
  • Practical exploration.
  • Discovering genre, style and form.
  • Developing structure.
  • Refining the performance.

What are the 7 elements of drama? ›

  • Elements of Drama.
  • The Seven Elements of Drama-Characters-Plot-Theme-Dialogue-Convention-Genre-Audience.
  • Characters-a person in a novel, play, or movie;played by an actor.
  • Plot-the events that make up a story, or themain part of a story.
  • -The subject or main idea of a play,novel, or movieTheme.

What are the four structures of drama? ›

Dramatic structure
  • exposition - introduces background events and characters.
  • rising action - a series of events that create suspense in the narrative.
  • climax - the part of the story where the suspense reaches its highest part.
  • falling action - the main conflict starts to resolve.

What are the four ingredients in a good drama? ›

A play has four narrative essentials: exposition, plot, characters, and theme.

What are the 4 elements of drama? ›

Plot, character, tension, language and spectacle are evident in all of the best plays, TV shows and films. These elements form the basis of any great drama and it is interesting to see how different artists use them to tell a story.

What are the expressive skills? ›

Speaking, gesturing (waving, pointing), writing (texting, emailing), facial expressions (crying, smiling), and vocalizations (crying, yelling) are all variations of expressive language. Children with poor expressive language skills may become frustrated when they cannot communicate their wants and needs.

What are the 4 types of stages in drama? ›

The four main types of stages are:
  • Found stages.
  • Proscenium stages.
  • Thrust stages.
  • Arena stages.
Jan 29, 2021

What are the 4 functions of drama? ›

  • Instructive Functions.
  • Educative Functions.
  • Informative Functions.
  • Entertainment Functions.
  • Therapeutic Functions.


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