The Elements of Drama Compared


One of the most popular posts on The Drama Teacher (currently with about 40,000 shares) is where I list and define the elements of drama. Originally, this particular list came about because they were prescribed (but at the time, not defined) in the senior curriculum I teach here in Melbourne, Australia – the Victorian Certificate of Education. Reader comments below that post discussed the different elements of drama being taught in various curricula across Australia and elsewhere. Hence, there really is no consistent list of the elements of drama.

So I thought I’d do a little digging to show readers of The Drama Teacher how four states in Australia have different ideas on what exactly are the elements of drama in their syllabi? The states analysed here are Victoria (VIC), New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD) and Western Australia (WA). For the purposes of this exercise, the syllabi used is senior studies curriculum (Years 11 and/or 12).

Elements of drama are discrete but interrelated. Dramatic action and meaning are created when these elements are integrated and applied to a specific context. (Source: Queensland Studies Authority)

The Elements of Drama in Four States of Australia (Senior Studies)

Climax: VIC only.

Conflict: VIC only.

Contrast: VIC & QLD.

Mood: VIC, NSW, QLD & WA.

Atmosphere: NSW & WA.

Rhythm: VIC & NSW.

Sound: VIC & NSW.

Space: VIC, NSW, QLD & WA.

Symbol: VIC, NSW, QLD & WA.

Metaphor: WA only.

Tension: VIC, NSW, QLD & WA.

(Dramatic) Focus: NSW (moved in VIC from an element of drama to a ‘performance skill’).

Movement: NSW & WA (‘expressive skill’ in VIC).

Time: NSW, QLD & WA.

Place: QLD only.

Pace: NSW only.

Pause: NSW only.

Role and/or Character: NSW, QLD & WA.

Character Relationships: QLD & WA.

Actor/Audience Relationship/s: NSW & WA (‘performance skill’ in VIC).

Language: QLD & WA (recently dumped in VIC).

Situation: QLD & WA.

Movement: NSW, QLD & WA (‘expressive skill’ in VIC).

Voice: WA only (‘expressive skill’ in VIC).

Texts: WA only.

3 Responses

  1. Valerie says:

    Thank you for this. I have moved from NSW where I taught Drama for over 10 years to QLD and I am now in my second year in a QLD school. All I can say that it takes time to adjust.

  2. Darryn says:

    I think that it is also worth noting that the Qld Syllabus acknowledges the lack of consistency regarding what constitutes an ‘element’ by prefacing the list in the syllabus with:

    “Elements of drama can include but are not restricted to the following:”

    In this way, there is a real value placed on the context in which you are putting a dramatic work together (or pulling it apart) and the elements you may be working with.

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