Tutorial Activities

The Importance of Tutorials

You are expected to attend ALL tutorials organised for the unit and to have READ SET TEXTS.

If, for some unforeseen reason you cannot attend a tutorial, you MUST advise your tutor and ensure you find out what notes/activities have been undertaken during the session. Make sure you alert a friend in the class to your absence and ask him or her what you missed.

Since you will be physically active in these sessions, it is important that you WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING that allows you to move without feeling restricted. Avoid wearing clothing that might make you feel self-conscious of your movement eg. short skirts or tank tops.

The information provided in a drama tutorial is essential for you to EXPERIENCE because:

Tutorials provide you with opportunities to discuss complex themes, structures, languages and questions and to gain a deeper understanding of the literary, dramatic and performed texts you are studying and/or producing.

Tutorials provide you with opportunities to explore and experiment with elements of performance like acting, directing, lighting, sound and set design.

Tutorials provide you with opportunities to learn skills and practical knowledge that you will need to complete assessment items that require the analysis or production of a performance/s.

Tutorials provide you with opportunities to get to know your classmates and to learn about their performance strengths, interests and abilities. Since you will be expected to create performances with fellow students, this information is very useful.

From listening to the comments and suggestions made by your tutor and other students and by observing the performances devised by others, you will increasingly learn how to construct powerful and effective performances.

Remember: All students pay dearly for a university education so respect everyone’s investment by keeping conversations that are not related to your tutorial outside class.


Activities that will enhance your learning and enjoyment of tutorials:


Activities that you can expect to encounter during a drama tutorial:

1. Warm up exercises:

These exercises are designed to do what they say: ‘warm you up’. However, there are many different reasons you may be asked to warm up in a tutorial and a variety of different warm up exercises. For example:


2. Discussions of texts:

Most tutorials allow some time for discussing the variety of meanings that are contained in set texts. Since every person who reads a text is likely to focus on different ideas, themes and performance possibilities, individual interpretations of texts are important for the group to consider. These discussions open doorways to further our understanding of texts in many different ways.

For example:


3. Reading/performance of texts:

Warm up activities and discussions are aimed at generating energy and ideas that can be used in a rehearsed reading or performance of set texts. Tutorials usually designate a good proportion of the session to performing particular scenes or sections of a set text because a major part of studying drama is deciding how to take written instructions and languages and make them a powerful living reality on stage. Your discussions and exercises will have suggested many meanings and possibilities for you to explore in performance. However, you will also need to make definite choices in order to convey the meanings you want an audience to receive. The choices you make will be based on your understanding of stagecraft, your audience, your resources, your abilities and your understanding of the abilities of those with whom you are performing.

Here are some examples of the things you might have to make decisions about when you perform texts:


Your tutor’s dream…


I walked into the spacious, temperature-controlled room dedicated to drama activities and noted that all the students in the tutorial had already arrived. They were all dressed in comfortable, clean clothing and were enthusiastic and ready to begin the day’s activities. Some were already actively discussing the various meanings that could be recognised in the set text for the week and a small group of students were exploring the performance possibilities in one of the scenes of the text. We all greeted each other warmly and, as soon as I had organised my notes and turned to address the group, the students stopped what they were doing and focused completely on what I was about to say. Since the set text for this week was Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the main character of this play is troubled by the appearance of his father’s ghost, the tutorial activities were designed to explore how ‘supernatural’ energy could be represented in a theatrical performance. As per usual, we started the session with some warm up exercises to loosen up the bodies, voices and energy of all the students in the room. Considering the theme of this week’s session, a particular focus of these exercises was to heighten awareness of sensory perceptions so we played games that required students to explore their responses to imaginary images, temperatures, smells and sounds. While the students displayed different abilities and flexibilities during these exercises, they were all completely focused on each task and each person participated to their full capacity. After the warm up exercises were completed, I directed the students to gather in a circle to discuss some of the connections that could be made between the activities they had just explored and the text they had read for the session. Each of the students offered wonderfully insightful observations that incorporated their responses to the exercises and it was clear that they had all read Hamlet repeatedly and were familiar with issues and information relating to the play and various productions of the play. As some of the students had also attended a local production of Hamlet, they offered observations about the production that were related to the ideas being discussed by other students. Of course, each of the students listened carefully to others during discussions and showed the utmost respect for the views expressed by their classmates and their tutor. They were also a good-humoured and good-natured group of students since they supported each other when needed and looked for ways to help each other articulate their ideas. Their intelligent decisions and encouragement for each other’s work was again evident when I split the class up into groups to work on particular sections of the text. Walking around the room and checking on each of the groups, I could see that all members were experimenting with creative ideas and they were challenging themselves physically and mentally to perform to the best of their ability. While they were clearly mindful of safety issues at all times, they also respected each other’s space and disposed of any rubbish they encountered. As we all watched and discussed the carefully constructed and innovative pieces they presented for each other, I watched the students applaud and express their support for each performed piece and thought: “This has been a very good tutorial.”



Further Reading

Auslander, Philip. From Acting to Performance: Essays in Modernism and Postmodernism. New York; London: Routledge. 1997.

Barker, Clive. Theatre Games: A New Approach to Drama Teaching. London: Eyre Methuen, 1977.

Boal, Augusto. Games for Actors and Non-Actors. Trans. Adrian Jackson. New York; London: Routledge, 1992.

Boal, Augusto. Legislative Theatre: Using Performance to Make Politics. Trans. Adrian Jackson. New York; London: Routledge, 1998.

Fox, Jonathan. Acts of Service: Spontaneity, Commitment, Tradition in the Non-Scripted Theatre. New Paltz, NY: Tusitala Publishers, 1994.

Johnson, Keith. Impro for Storytellers: Theatresports and the Art of Making Things Happen. London: Faber, 1999.

Lamden, Gill. Devising: A Handbook for Drama and Theatre Students. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

O’Toole, John. Theatre in Education: New Objectives for Theatre, New Techniques in Education. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976.

Rudlin, John, and Olly Crick. Commedia Dell’Arte: A Handbook for Troupes. London; New York: Routledge, 2001.

Spolin, Viola. Improvisation for the Theater: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1963.



©2005 Australian Catholic University