VCE Drama Unit 3: Ensemble Performance Changes

Local teachers of VCE Drama Unit 3 should be aware of a recent amendment by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in regards to Outcome 1, Ensemble Performance. This change is already in place, effective January 1, 2012.

VCAA. Image: VCAA.

There has been some confusion in the past as to which parts of the ensemble performance assessment criteria in Unit 3 Drama relate to the development of the piece and which parts relate to the actual performance? Furthermore, exactly when do teachers assess the various criteria?

The Drama Study Design and Assessment Handbook have been updated with minor wording changes in order to make the creation and assessment of the Unit 3 ensemble performance clearer.

The Assessment Handbook for Drama now includes a rider statement for the Unit 3 ensemble performance before criteria 1 and 2, and a separate statement before criteria 3 and 4:

Develop characters for a non-naturalistic ensemble performance.

Research and creative processes used in the development of the ensemble performance: An outstanding contribution to the construction of an ensemble performance demonstrating very effective use of a wide range of processes, including researching, improvising, scripting, rehearsing and refining. Excellent use of a wide range of well-chosen play-making techniques to develop engaging and convincing character/s.

Use of non-naturalistic performance styles in the development of the ensemble performance: Highly effective use of a comprehensive range of play-making techniques giving complex dramatic form to the non-naturalistic ensemble performance. Inventive and insightful use of techniques developed by other drama practitioners to create ensemble performances which use non-naturalistic performance style/s.

Presentation of character/s for a non-naturalistic ensemble performance.

Realisation of character/s within the ensemble performance: Sophisticated and refined use of expressive skills is evident in the realisation of character/s within the ensemble performance. Portrayal of characters and roles is sustained consistently and successfully and synchronisation with other members of the ensemble is achieved. Highly sustained focus is maintained throughout the performance. A wide range of performance skills is effectively used to engage the audience’s interest in character/s and subject matter.

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

The important thing to know about the recent change is that the focus of the first two criteria (above) is on the development of the ensemble piece, while the focus of the final two criteria is on the actual performance of the ensemble. The criteria (especially the second) have been reworded to make it clearer which parts of the ensemble they relate to.

So when does a teacher employ the various criteria?

Option A: Assess the first two criteria before the performance and assess the final two criteria during the performance.

Option B: Assess most of the first two criteria before the performance, with a small part of the criteria assessed during the performance as confirmation that the student fulfilled the requirements, and the final two criteria during the performance.

Option C: Assess all four criteria during the performance, but in relation to the first two criteria, you will need to see evidence of these criteria during the development of the piece by observation of them existing during the performance, itself.

I hope that teachers reading this post are not confused (more than before, or for the first time). For the majority of teachers, these changes will probably have no real effect on what they have been doing previously. For others, however, this amendment may confirm for them that what they have been doing in the past is OK, or make it clearer what to do from now on.

The VCAA do not mind which of the three options, above, you employ to assess this task.

Formal VCAA amendment statement.

Revised Drama Study Design (note the table on p.28 will soon be changed to include “Development and presentation of characters within an ensemble performance”.

Revised Drama Assessment Handbook (note changes to Unit 3, Outcome 1 Ensemble Performance assessment criteria, as outlined in this post, above).

If anyone has any comments they wish to share or would like further clarification, add your comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *