Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Examiner's Visit

Before the examiner's visit, ensure that the correct paperwork is completed and sent in good time prior to the exam- ideally at least 7 days before. Your centre won't be the only centre they are visiting and they need to check the paperwork/ mark written elements of it before the visit. When arranging the actual visit from an examiner, remember- they must be provided with a room to mark in after each performance. Preferably they should be near to the examining/ performing space which will help ensure the smooth running of the day. They should not be escorted between the performance space to the examining/ marking room by students as this goes against the examining body's child protection policy. Use a TA or second member of the department if possible. Put clear signs on the door to tell students and other members of staff that this room is out of bounds for the day. Other staff must not go into a room where notes may be kept during other performances. Announce this in staff briefing/ in a staff bulletin to ensure this message is received. The examiner does have to write a report on each centre visit and details such as these are included in it. Examiners may be full or part time teachers, they may be a freelance drama practitioner or work in another area of the arts. They are trained, employed and contracted to an exam board for the duration of the exam season. Don't ask them all about themselves on the visit. They are there to do a job and will be polite and professional. They are your examiner, not your new best friend. They understand the process that your students are going through, but must mark what they see on the day. If something goes wrong- e.g. illness, it is your responsibility to contact the exam board, not the examiner. THEY HAVE TO MARK WHAT THEY SEE ON THE DAY.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Exam Tip- Performance Support Students

If you have a student/s taking the technical option on an exam e.g. lighting/ sound/ costume etc, make sure they say in their 5 minute presentation about what they did using the word 'I', not 'we'. Get them to include their research in their portfolio and outline the decisions they made and why they made them. Get them to discuss the decisions that they made when in consultation with the group. What do they hope to achieve in the performance? Photographs/ sketches/ models of the process help. Go through the criteria carefully for each discipline and check their portfolio- e.g. if it says include a lighting grid and a cue sheet with at least 6 lighting states, make sure they have included these for their groups performance. 

Even if a group doesn't have a lighting or sound design support student working with them, leave time to consider lighting and SFX as it helps create the atmosphere for the audience but also helps the performers stay in role and believe it themselves. This isn't compulsory though and they should plan to finish polishing their piece above and before putting lighting and sound in as it is the performance they are getting marked for. If a group does have a technical design student working with them then it is essential that plenty of time is scheduled in for the rigging/ focusing/ plotting/ tech rehearsals for all of the students involved with that piece.

If using costume and props, make sure the day of the performance isn't the first time you have ever used them. Things will go wrong!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Getting Started on the Exam Performance- Script Ideas for GCSE & AS Level plus Suggested Stimuli for Devised Work

Looking for suitable texts to use with GCSE students? Here are some of the more popular ones- 'Too Much Punch For Judy', 'Blood Brothers', 'Bouncers', 'Shakers', 'Road', 'Two', 'A Talk in the Park', 'Blue Remembered Hills'.

Thinking of doing devised work for GCSE exam performances and need a stimulus? Poetry or monologues from existing texts are always interesting; an item of costume or shoes; a piece of music with an interesting/ provoking set of lyrics e.g. Elvis Costelloe's 'Let Him Hang' or Billy Holliday's 'Strange Fruit' or to interpret the mood and introduce themes of war/ loss/ devastation and rebuilding of life, try Penderecki's 'Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima'; a photograph or article from a newspaper, whether local, national or global; explore an issue affecting your school/ local community/ national or on a global topic; an advert for a charity..... anything that provokes the students to use their imagination.

Looking for suitable texts for the AS Level Paper 2 Drama teacher directed performance exam? Here are some of the more popular ones- 'Our Country's Good', 'Too Much Punch for Judy', 'Vinegar Tom', 'Cider With Rosie',  'The Crucible', 'Easter', 'Find Me', 'Dr Faustus'.