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:
- Read your unit outline and identify the subject or plays you will be covering during each week’s lecture
- Read set plays, particularly those that are set for the week of your lecture
- Read widely about various acting styles
- Read texts on stage, lighting and sound design
- Go to see performances in many different theatres and identify the restrictions of space and the creative solutions that are evident in the productions you attend
- Find filmed footage or illustrations of theatrical performances of the play that you are studying or photographs of different productions of the play in books or on the web
- Compare the different artistic choices and styles of performance evident in different filmed/photographed or theatre productions and consider why different choices are made
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:
- You may be asked to ‘break the ice’ with new students in a group so warm up exercises may be designed to introduce you to group members and their interests eg. Name games
- You may be asked to engage in exercises that develop warm and supportive working relationships with other members in your class eg. Trust exercises
- You may be asked to warm up to ideas or texts that initially leave you cold by engaging in exercises designed to help you engage with the possibilities contained in texts eg. Games that require you to ‘change’ gender or games that ‘play’ with space and time
- You may be asked to warm up cold muscles in your bodies so that you prevent injuries eg. Stretching exercises and aerobic activity might be required
- You may be asked to stoke the fires of your imagination by exploring new ideas and memories via specific tasks eg. Creative visualisations, emotional memory exercises and historical actions.
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.
- By sharing personal responses and interpretations of the text, you express opinions and possibilities that might not have been recognised by other group members.
- By doing extra preparation for a tutorial and reading widely about the socio-historical conditions surrounding the production of a text, you extend your ability to interpret meanings and values influencing the production and reception of a text
- By having others question or add more information to your observations, feelings and interpretations, you are challenged to adapt your interpretations or find good reasons to support your views and explain your responses.
- When you have to look for good reasons to support your interpretations, you begin to examine the values and theoretical frameworks that you use to interpret information. You therefore begin to exercise your ability to critically analyse texts and performances of all kinds.
- Through this process, you will begin to understand more about yourself, one another, the histories, values and ideas of the world we all live in as well as the texts that you are performing and studying.
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:
- What kind of spatial arrangements (proxemics) are you developing in various scenes and how do different arrangements create different meanings?
- How do the different types of movement (kinesics) that actors are using convey information or meanings to other actors and to an audience?
- Should there be any variations in the lighting design or the sound effects to reinforce particular moods or themes in the texts or the characters?
- Are the changes in costuming and the colour schemes of sets reinforcing the meanings of the play being developed?
- Do the actors need to explore the ‘inner life’ of characters by identifying the intentions and motivations of different characters?
- Where should your audience be seated to maximise their understanding of the choices and meanings you are constructing in your performance?
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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.
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