Performance & Production

Performance as Assessment


What is involved in different areas of a production?

Productions are great opportunities to learn more about the knowledge, skills and craftsmanship associated with professional theatre activity. Some people prefer not to perform in front of others but relish the opportunity to learn more about the tasks and skills associated with stage management, production management, directing, lighting, scenery, sound or costume design. You will be encouraged to take on roles on and offstage so that you have a chance to learn about all the elements that are involved in a production. However, if you do not wish to perform onstage in front of an audience, there are still many other roles that you can explore.


Would you like to learn more about any of these roles?

Production managers

Production Managers are responsible for managing all the technical aspects of a production.

Someone taking on this role would control the budget for all technical production costs and be responsible for supervising and liasing with all technical staff (including negotiating costs and requirements for specific spaces and venues).


Directors are responsible for stimulating, directing and managing the many creative ideas associated with the production.

Someone taking on this role would need to support and direct the creative responses and interpretations acting and technical staff offer in relation to the scripts used in a production (could be written scripts, choreography, images, music).

Dramaturg (See information about the role of Dramaturgs in section on Dramaturgical Essays)
Stage managers

Stage Managers do what their title suggests: they ‘manage’ the stage.

Someone taking on this role would be responsible for ensuring performances run smoothly. They would attend rehearsals and meetings with directors, production managers and technicians and they would create a prompt copy of the script used in a production that includes all acting and technical cues.

Lighting designers

Lighting designers are responsible for designing and executing the lighting design.

Someone taking on this role would create a plan that details what lights will be used where (usually outlined on the lighting grid) with an explanation of the colours and features of each sequence and an outline of where lights are located on the dimmer board (a device that is controlled from a Lighting Desk that controls the amount of electricity/intensity passed through lamps)

Sound designers

Sound designers are sometimes in charge of designing and executing sound effects that are used in a production but sometimes sound effects may be executed by Technical Directors (who are primarily responsible for checking technical equipment during the run of a production)

Someone taking on the role of sound designer would select and construct sound effects and be responsible for organising audio equipment such as microphones that may require the use of a sound control desk called a ‘mixer’ that can mix and adjust sounds from various sources.

Musical Directors

Musical directors are in charge of the musical content of a show.

Someone taking on this role would select and direct all musicians and musical arrangements for a production

Set, scenery and costume designers

Set, Secenery and Costume Designers are responsible for designing the scenery, sets, costumes and sound effects used in a production.

Designers both design and supervise the construction of the areas for which they are responsible while ‘dressers’ help performers change costumes during a performance and ‘set dressers’ ensures that all sets, props etc are in the correct positions on stage for a performance.

Front of House Managers

Front of House Managers are responsible for the needs of the audience and ensuring that all Front of House facilities are in good working order.

Areas associated with Front of House include ticketing boxes, areas where programs are sold, areas where food and drink are served.


Learn more about the roles and language of theatre productions:

Being involved in Drama productions introduces you to a range of different roles and words you may come across in professional theatre environments. For example, would you know what you were taking on if someone asked you to be a “production manager” or would you end up suffering from “the old complaint?” What would you do if someone wanted you to rearrange the “French flat” and would you know where to go if someone told you to sit in the “prompt corner”? Or, would you know if you were covered by insurance if someone asked you to “slowly bring up the fresnel on the apron at rise and to check if the gobo was still on the spot”? For students who wish to prepare themselves for production or who simply want to be more familiar with tasks and terms associated with the production of theatre, have a look through the following sites:


Australian site with a useful glossary of terms used in theatre production:

Do your own search through the site offered by the Drama Department at the University of Exeter:


What contribution would you like to make?

When you are considering what contribution you would like to make to a production, you may be faced with some hard choices. Should you do what you know you can contribute or should you aim to contribute something that you would like to learn but are unsure whether you have the time to develop the skills required? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. However, when you are making such choices, you should consider the amount of time you have available that you know you can commit to the production. At the beginning of a production, you will be given a schedule that outlines periods of time when you MUST be available for rehearsal. In addition to these times, you will need to work out how much time you have and how much time you will need to develop the skills, designs or knowledge required for tasks you may wish to perform and possibly learn. Since you may need to juggle commitments to family, friends, other studies and other students to accommodate the duties and times you have accepted in a production, you must be very clear on the time you will need to perform your tasks well.


Note 1. If you are unsure of the kinds of tasks associated with technical aspects of production, be sure to look at the jobs involved with different areas before you volunteer to carry out a task and put strategies in place to organise your time effectively.


Note 2. If you decide to perform as an actor, then you MUST be available for all rehearsals when you are called. Sometimes rehearsal periods focus more intensely on small elements within one scene or aspects of another person’s performance and may be easy to feel like your presence is not really required. However, during such times your focused attention is even more important since it will convey your support to other cast members and demonstrate your interest in developing the entire performance rather than just your role.


The myth of talent

The Ancient Greeks created a lot of stories that we have inherited in various forms. A very influential story is the one that suggests ‘good’ performers are inspired by gods and muses whose spirits infuse and animate great actors (Discussed in some detail in Plato’s dialogue Ion). While this story is a dramatic one, it also suggests that only a few ‘gifted’ people are naturally predisposed to performing while the rest are ‘uninspired’. While it may be true that some people seem to have more confidence and charisma than others, good performances still require dedicated study, sustained effort and persistence if natural abilities are to be developed to a level of excellence. Dedication is required to identify and develop aptitudes, polish skills and learn knowledge that will enhance your understanding of drama, theatre and performance. People who have not developed these abilities may still attract attention in professional environments that evaluate performers for their value as commodities to sell. However, success at university requires much more than a winning smile, a good profile or a famous partner. No matter how talented or inspired individuals and their friends believe they may be students will always be expected to address all the criteria being evaluated in performances and other forms of assessment.


How are marks for performance presentations allocated?

Below, you will find an outline of the criteria used to grade performances devised for assessment. As you will see, there are four major areas that are evaluated but NONE focus exclusively on acting skills or technical expertise. Since this course is not a vocational training course, you are NOT assessed for your improvement as an actor or technician. What you are expected to do is to use the skills you are learning and developing to create an intelligent and creative performance that demonstrates your understanding and knowledge of the elements that are used to stage a dramatic play. Consideration is given to the way your audience responds to your production, how you utilise and combine technical and design elements, the degree of rehearsal and confidence evident in a presentation and your understanding and development of themes, structures and images within the texts you are performing.


Examples of criteria that are often used to assess your performances:


1.Criteria used to assess a performance’s Overall Effectiveness

(General ability to engage or impact upon an audience)






High Distinction

Not really able to sustain the audience’s attention

General coverage of the topic which offers a useful introduction to the scene

Good performance which is interesting for the audiences

Very good performance which communicates the material in an interesting way

Dynamic performance which presents the material creatively and in a way that arouses the audience’s interest


2. Criteria used to assess performance Presentation

(Note: Performances that run under the set time limit automatically fail this part of the assessment)





High Distinction

Under time

Correct time

No rehearsal

Little evidence of rehearsal

Performance piece has obviously been rehearsed


Evidence of much rehearsal

Limited preparation

Small amount of preparation

Appropriate preparation

Solid preparation and research which influenced the interpretation of the scene

Excellent preparation which and research which influenced the interpretation of the scene

Very rough performance

Awkward performance

Confident Performance

Good performance which communicates the material in an appropriate manner

Polished performance which communicates the material with stylistic flair


3. Criteria used to assess a performance’s Technical and Creative Design

(Note: performances that do not use technical equipment will be expected to explore other creative design features such as use of space, set and costuming)





High Distinction

No use of Stage Lighting

Very basic use of lighting

Uses lighting to support important dramatic action

Good use of stage lighting to illustrate the key dramatic moments of the performance

Excellent use of lighting which illustrates the key dramatic moments of the performance and offers an insightful support to the action

No use of Music or Sound Effects

Performance incorporates music and sound

Good use of music and sound

Appropriate use of music and sound to highlight key dramatic moments

Innovative use of music and sound to highlight key dramatic moments

Limited effort put into set design

Very basic set design which does not add symbolic weight to the performance

Uses set design in a functional way

Uses set design to help reinforce the dramatic action

Set design appropriately underpins the dramatic action and adds an important dimension to the performance

Limited effort put into costume design

Very basic costume design which does not add symbolic weight to the performance

Uses costume design in a functional way

Uses costume design to help reinforce the dramatic action

Costume design appropriately underpins the dramatic action and adds an important dimension to the characters in the performance


4. Criteria used to assess a performance’s Dramatic Considerations (Connections made between staging of text and actions)





High Distinction

Inappropriate choice of material

Poor choice of scene

Good choice of scene

Excellent Choice of Scene

Inappropriate method of theatrical production

Attempts to use appropriate performance style

Effectively uses appropriate performance style

Uses appropriate performance style with flair

Outstanding delivery which includes appropriate use of the body, tone of voice, and performance style

Performance does not attempt to interpret the material

Performance presents a predictable interpretation of the material

Performance explores the scene in an interesting manner

Performance shows that attention has been paid to exploring new ways of interpreting the scene

Performance demonstrates the subtleties of the scene in an insightful way and it pushes the boundaries of possibilities for theatrical production


Please click here for a comprehensive description of what would be required to achieve a High Distinction grade when the marks are allocated to an Individual or to a Group.

Assessment Links on this Site:



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