Each year I post the characters my Year 12 drama students create for a short solo performance in class. Although the task directly relates to their course content in VCE Drama Unit 4, it is broad enough to be used or adapted by teachers elsewhere.
Requirements of the task
- students must write a statement that describes the non-naturalistic qualities of their performance and how they used the stimulus material provided by the teacher to achieve this
- deliver this statement to the class as an introduction to their performance
- act a performance of 1-3 minutes duration that shows evidence of transformation of character, time, place and object
My stimulus (in conjunction with the above)
The subculture character
The Internet, movies and literature in which the chosen subculture is represented and/or documented.
Briefly research a character belonging to a subculture of your choice. In your performance
- demonstrate examples of typical language and behaviour
- briefly portray one minor secondary character
My eleven students this year decided to perform a character belonging to the following subcultures:
- LARP (Live Action Role Playing gamer)
- Chavette (female Chav)
- Aussie Rapper (underground)
- Vampire Lifestyle
- Whovian (sub of Fandom)
- Adrenaline Junkie
Only one object is needed in these performances. Even in a three-minute performance, this object can be transformed from its original status into a number of other objects. These can be found objects (dinner plate, chair, piano stool), made objects, or even items traditionally known as costume (scarves, hats). In the students’ course of study, this activity is a scaffolding task, leading in to several weeks of class rehearsal resulting in an external seven-minute solo performance examination. If treated as a micro-version of the upcoming bigger, more complex task, it works well. Here, the students learn to use words, space, movement and gesture to transform characters and time. Even the academic statement forces students to think carefully about how they have crafted their work in response to stimulus material, performance style and conventions. This is intended to be a straightforward and simple task with minimal research, undertaken in just two weeks of class time. The focus should be on quality, not quantity.