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  1. Hi Justin,
    I love this idea! I can’t find the PDF you refer to. Is it possible to reattach it to your post? Thanks

    1. Hi Sonja,

      I notice you are from a US school. This is the suggested assessment criteria we use for this task here in Victoria, Australia. Four criteria x 20 marks each. Total marks = 80. Mark range with descriptors, below. Copy and paste (or adapt) and create a rubric from this for your own task, if you wish. – Justin.

      MARK RANGE DESCRIPTOR: typical performance in each range

      64–80 marks
      Use of play-making techniques to explore stimulus material for a devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Outstanding contribution to the construction of an ensemble performance. Sophisticated use of play-making techniques to explore the dramatic potential of stimulus material.

      Use of non-naturalistic performance styles to create a devised ensemble performance: Highly effective use of play-making techniques to create a complex non-naturalistic ensemble performance. Inventive and insightful use of techniques and conventions used by specified drama practitioners to devise a non-naturalistic ensemble performance.

      Realisation of characters within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Sophisticated and refined portrayal of characters and roles is sustained consistently and synchronised with other members of the ensemble. Highly sustained focus is maintained throughout the performance. A very wide range of expressive skills and performance skills are used effectively to engage the audience’s interest in characters and subject matter.

      Use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Sophisticated understanding, use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft to communicate meaning and transform character, time, place and object to enhance the ensemble performance.

      48–63 marks
      Use of play-making techniques to explore stimulus material for a devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Effective contribution to the construction of an ensemble performance through informed use of play-making techniques to explore the dramatic potential of stimulus material.

      Use of non-naturalistic performance styles to create a devised ensemble performance: Proficient use of play-making techniques to create an effective dramatic form for the ensemble performance. Confident use of techniques and conventions used by specified drama practitioners to devise a non-naturalistic ensemble performance.

      Realisation of characters within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Effective portrayal of characters and roles is sustained consistently and synchronised with other members of the ensemble. Sustained focus is maintained through most of the performance. A wide range of expressive skills and performance skills are used effectively to engage the audience’s interest in characters and subject matter.

      Use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Strong understanding, use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft to communicate meaning and transform character, time, place and object to enhance the ensemble performance.

      32–47 marks
      Use of play-making techniques to explore stimulus material for a devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Adequate contribution to the construction of an ensemble performance. Satisfactory use of play-making techniques to explore the dramatic potential of stimulus material.

      Use of non-naturalistic performance styles to create a devised ensemble performance: Mostly effective use of play-making techniques to create dramatic form for the ensemble performance. Satisfactory use of techniques and conventions used by specified drama practitioners to devise a non-naturalistic ensemble performance.

      Realisation of characters within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Portrayal of characters and roles that is generally sustained and/or synchronised with other members of the ensemble. Some sustained focus is maintained through the performance. A satisfactory range of expressive skills and performance skills are used to engage the audience’s interest in characters and subject matter.

      Use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Satisfactory understanding, use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft to communicate meaning and transform character, time, place and object is evident in the ensemble performance.

      16–31 marks
      Use of play-making techniques to explore stimulus material for a devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Limited contribution to the construction of an ensemble performance. Some play-making techniques to explore aspects of the dramatic potential of stimulus material.

      Use of non-naturalistic performance styles to create a devised ensemble performance: Some use of play-making techniques to create dramatic form for the ensemble performance with limited effectiveness. Limited use of techniques and conventions used by specified drama practitioners to devise ensemble performances.

      Realisation of characters within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Inconsistent portrayal of characters and roles and limited synchronisation with other members of the ensemble. Limited focus is maintained through the performance. A limited range of expressive skills and performance skills are used to engage the audience’s interest in characters and subject matter.

      Use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Some understanding, use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft to communicate meaning and transform character, time, place and object is evident in the ensemble performance.

      1–15 marks
      Use of play-making techniques to explore stimulus material for a devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Very limited contribution to the construction of an ensemble performance. Limited use of a small number of play-making techniques to explore some aspects of the dramatic potential of stimulus material.

      Use of non-naturalistic performance styles to create a devised ensemble performance: Very limited use of play-making techniques to create dramatic form for the non-naturalistic ensemble performance. Very limited use of techniques and conventions used by specified drama practitioners to devise the ensemble performances.

      Realisation of characters within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Inconsistent portrayal of characters and roles that are not sustained or synchronised with other members of the ensemble. Very limited focus and a very limited range of expressive skills and performance skills are used to engage the audience’s interest in characters and subject matter.

      Use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft within the devised non-naturalistic ensemble performance: Limited understanding, use and manipulation of selected dramatic elements, conventions and stagecraft to communicate meaning and transform character, time, place and object is evident in the ensemble performance.

      Source: Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Assessment Handbook. VCE Drama.

  2. This topic looks great, Justin, well done! What time limit are you setting your students? I know at the conference last year most people are sticking to the unwritten aim of 5-7 minutes, but there isn’t a specified time by VCAA.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Angie. If my memory serves me right, the time limits were deleted from the last version of the Drama Study Design (2007-13). It used to be 8 minutes of primary focus per student in the group:

      groups of three – up to 24 minutes duration
      groups of four – up to 32 minutes duration
      groups of five – up to 40 minutes duration
      groups of six – up to 48 minutes duration

      This was a hangover from the 1990s when the Drama ensemble performance was actually an externally assessed exam in Unit 4, much like what the solo is now. It was never suggested a group of students should extend their performance just to meet the time limit, nor was ‘8 minutes of primary focus’ suggesting a monologue in the middle of an ensemble. However, when the ensemble was an exam, these were the maximum times prescribed (like 7 minutes is the maximum time limit for today’s solo exam). I actually had a group of six girls in the mid-90s perform a 48 minute performance! Those poor assessors who had to sit through that one!

      Personally, my students usually find the above time guidelines a little daunting, so I adjust them a little without being too prescriptive. This year I have three groups of four students, each. With four students, I don’t expect the ensemble performance to be 32 minutes long, but I am expecting it to be around the 25 minute-mark, as any less would probably be incomplete.

      Some of us forget there are also no group sizes listed / suggested / mandated anymore. A group will technically need to be at least 2 students, but can be as large as you like, In 2010, I had a class of ten students in a single group. It was magic and mayhem all at the same time!