Drama – Drama guide and glossary


Drama conventions and terminology


Actor – This word normally describes a person who takes the role of one or more characters in a play to be performed to an audience. In process drama, where there is no outside audience, the word “participant” is normally used to describe the students making drama whether in- or out-of-role, and “actor” is used when they are using theatrical conventions to present images or scenes within the drama to others.

Blocking – In a theatre production, this refers to the plan of movements of the actors on-stage to ensure that the action is visible to the audience, and aesthetically effective. Traditionally, the director decides this, usually in advance. Nowadays, most directors work with actors to decide the blocking during rehearsals, though sometimes special effects and specific scenes have to be decided in advance for the sake of the stage manager or lighting designer. When primary children are performing, it is doubly important to work with the actors so that they can understand the need and motivation for moves, and contribute to the whole production.

Character – This defines a person (or other animated figure) in a dramatic context. It is a synonym for “role”, although sometimes it is used to denote roles of specific individuals (rather than more generic roles such as “journalist” or “scientist”). “Characterisation” refers to fleshing out a role until it is a realistic and believable character.

Chorus – This convention from ancient Greek tragedies can be very useful in performance work with young people as it ensures that all members of the group can play a useful role, and can introduce an element of ritual. The classic chorus uses words recited in unison and group movement in order to comment on the action. The chorus provides a break from the story, and can introduce ironic elements, especially if the chorus members have characters, not just a “shadowy” role (see Role-play - Twilight or Shadowy role). These characters could include, for instance, local townspeople who are implicated in the results of the main dramatic action, yet are powerless to change it.

Collage Theatre – This refers to performance that is constructed from a range of theatrical genres patched together, rather than a straightforward narrative that may or may not include dialogue. Collage theatre usually includes statements and readings, as well as visual and physical symbols.

Community Theatre – This is a generic term that has come to refer to plays and drama work taking place within very specific localities or ethnic groups to highlight their concerns, celebrate their identity, and provide a vehicle through which they can express themselves, occasionally in protest.

Context – In any drama lesson (or any drama event), there are a number of contexts that must be taken into account:    

- the real context, that is, the real world of the participants, their lives, experiences, and relationships that they bring to the drama lesson           
- the dramatic context, namely the fictional world of the drama and its characters.

Between these components is the context of the event (sometimes known as the performance context), which is the organisation of time and space that must take place to turn the classroom into the “special place” or theatre. The dramatic context is then created in this “special place” and the real context is temporarily suspended.

Contrast – This is a very important element of drama, both to keep the children interested and to make the drama powerful. There are some particularly significant dimensions of contrast within drama of which a good teacher will need to make use. These include: sound/silence; light/dark; real/unreal; movement/stillness; big/small movements; quick/slow; direct/indirect; light/heavy; sudden/continuous; smooth/jerky; and so on.

Costumes – Like props, costumes are optional, and should be minimal. They can help both teacher and students to create a more authentic sense of the context and setting; however, they can be a distraction or make the wearer feel more self-conscious and as though they are “acting” rather than experiencing the role. In this drama, costumes were the children’s idea and enhanced the ceremony.

De-roling (debriefing) – This is the process where actors step out of their roles and back to the real context. Children can usually do this more effortlessly than adults, as children do it in their own dramatic play all the time. That said, a general discussion at the end of a drama or a scene where you let the children talk freely is often all that is necessary to release residual tension. A thought-tracking circle (see Thought-tracking) can be a good intermediate step to help those students who are affected by a role longer than others, particularly if there have been emotional issues involved in the drama, such as family relationships or death.

Director – In a theatre production, the director is responsible for what the audience sees on stage; the interpretation of the play; rehearsing the actors and ensuring that their performances fit into the whole; and working with the designer and other experts (such as choreographers and fight arrangers) to create the most effective and powerful result.

Distance – See Framing.

Drama-in-education (DIE) – This term is synonymous with “educational drama” and “drama education” as a generic description. Like TIE (see Theatre-in-education (TIE)), the term was coined in England to narrowly define an approach to classroom drama based on process drama, the central use of role-play and active participation, and, usually, the exploration of social issues through drama.

Dramatic reconstruction - If a particular key moment has some mystery about it, or the stories of different characters contradict each other, you can stop role-playing, and ask the group to become actors in a “docu-drama”. In such situations, the group is given the task of re-constructing a moment based on the information that they have been given. If two or more sub-groups each have to reconstruct the same moment, this makes good discussion material through comparing the reconstructions. This technique was used three times in The Treasure of Trivandrum.

Dramaturge (dramaturgy) – You may occasionally come across this word, which has two alternative definitions in the theatre:

a.)  A playwriting dramaturge helps a playwright to shape and structure his or her dramatic ideas into a theatrical script

b.)  A production dramaturge helps the director to study the playscript, research its background, its context and the playwright’s life, and other productions of the play.

Whether or not you know the term, you will often act as one or other of these kinds of dramaturge in your class.

Dual affect – This phenomenon is an important aspect of the drama experience that the teacher must understand. A child (or any other actor) involved as a character in dramatic play or performance will emotionally exist in two worlds simultaneously:  “inside” the role (identifying and empathising with the character and their situation), and “outside” (enjoying or analysing the sensation). Though sometimes deeply moved and emotional in a role, the normal player in a drama is always distanced enough to come back to real life at any time.

Empathy – This is the emotional quality of identifying with a character and a dramatic situation (or “standing in another’s shoes”), so that the participant feels and acts instinctively and unselfconsciously as that character.

Enrolling (Enrolment) – This is the process of building belief and identification with the role of the character being played. Occasionally it simply consists of giving the players a point of view and a task: “You are journalists about to interview local citizens. What questions might you ask to get a really good story for your program?” If the role demands deep empathy and passion, this must be painstakingly built, perhaps with preliminary exercises, in-role writing, or preparatory role-play in pairs. Whatever the depth, the teacher must always take care of, and allow enough time for, this component of the drama.

Five Ws - A simple schema to help plan the essentials of any new drama: What’s happening? Who is involved? Where and When is it happening? ...and the most important one, What’s at stake? The first four Ws provide the dramatic context, and the last provides the tension to drive the drama.

Focus – When the Five Ws have been decided upon, the drama needs to be focused to find a beginning and a frame for the action, so that the students work in a significant way rather than just enacting a story (see Framing).

Focus Question – This is the question that the drama sets out to answer, and the teacher must decide according to what learning outcomes are desired. In The Treasure of Trivandrum, the focus question was, “Who does the treasure belong to, and how would it best be used?”

Forum Theatre – This technique of participatory theatre was made popular by the Brazilian founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal. Forum theatre involves a group of actors creating a scene that depicts oppression of some kind. The actors enact the scene several times to an audience, some of whom are invited to stop the scene at any point and then intervene as “spect-actors” by stepping into the role of the oppressed protagonist. The intervener tries to lessen or overcome the oppression by acting differently. If the intervention is far-fetched or the spect-actor behaves out of character, the audience is encouraged to shout “Magic!” and the scene starts again from where it was interrupted. Because of its simplicity and its capacity to spark lively discussion, this technique (or variants of it) is often used in the classroom.

Framing – The teacher (like any playwright) has to choose what part of the story or what story line is concentrated on to answer the focus question. This decision is known as framing. Framing provides the perspective through which the context or story is explored; this context is known as distancing. In the case of this pre-text, the teachers started “inside” the dramatic event with the opening of the treasure chamber, but then set most of the drama “on the edge”, enrolling the children and teacher as local Indian television journalists investigating and reporting on the findings and their implications.

Freeze – The word is used for a temporary stop in a drama. The teacher can “freeze” the action in order to add some instruction or negotiate with the participants, or to give the participants the opportunity to find out what is happening all round the room.

Freeze-frame (or Tableau) – This is a moment from a drama that has been created or frozen so that it can be examined closely. A freeze-frame allows the group or sub-groups to create a physical image to illustrate a particularly important moment in the drama that the class can look at, compare, and discuss. A brief time jump is a way of extending this to show what was happening thirty seconds before, and thirty seconds after. In Lesson 1, the first activity following the treasure hunt was to create a freeze-frame (a “news photograph”) of the opening of the temple.

Frozen effigy (sometimes called Living picture) – This useful technique starts with a prepared freeze-frame, which is slowly brought to life in stages, allowing the other participants to reflect on and interrogate the details as they slowly emerge. This technique was used twice, in Lessons 3 and 5, to explore the realities of child labour and to demonstrate what might have been inside the temple’s mysterious “Chamber B”.

Games – Games and other forms of warm-up (see Warm-ups) can be useful to get the students into the right frame of mind or energy for drama, but they are not drama, and they are not essential for a process drama. If a game is used, it should be thematically linked to the subject of the drama to provide a segue into the dramatic context. In an earlier version of this drama, the teachers played two treasure-seeking detective games. Though popular with the students, games can waste a considerable amount of time and, if overused, can eventually encourage students to feel that drama is trivial and merely about “just playing games”. Like props and costumes, games can be distracting. 

Headlines playbuilding technique – This way of starting drama, or playbuilding, with older children quickly evolves from a general idea into a concrete and dramatic situation through the following stages.  

1. Choose a topic with a problem or social issue involved. This involves breaking the class into groups of about 6–8 and asking them to identify an incident that encapsulates the topic, and a single moment from the incident that would be newsworthy. Ask the students to write the first paragraph and headline of a newspaper report of the incident and create the action photograph of the moment, as a freeze-frame (see Freeze-frame (or Tableau)). Be sure to stress that they should not over-think or “flesh out” the incident too much. All actors should be in the “photograph” except for one, who will be the reader/scribe.       
2. Work with each group in turn. Ask the group to assume the freeze-frame and be ready to hold it for a long time. Ask the scribe to read the headline and paragraph, while the audience looks at the “photograph”. Introducing thought-tracking (see Thought-tracking (or Tapping in)) at this point can enrich the experience. Then lead the audience in posing all of the questions that this story and photograph encourage them to ask about the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask the obvious, such as Why was he lying to her?, or What happened next?, and then probe the students to ask more significant questions, such as, What would he go home that night and tell his family?, or Why might somebody be driven to behave so badly?. However, do not let the performing group answer any of the questions, as this will close some useful doors.
3. Give all groups the opportunity to be performers and interrogating audience. Ask students to sit down with their list of questions, each of which could start a play in itself, and choose just one (or at most, two linked questions) that they are all interested in. Then ask the students to identify one character who, if we look more closely at that character, might begin to shed light on that question. Then ask students to identify a scene that incorporates that character, away from the incident, that might shed some light on the question. The character does not have to be one who was featured directly in the first story or freeze-frame. As a result, you have established your Five Ws, your hook, and your focus question!

Hot-seat – This is where players have a need to question or interrogate a character, to find out information, to discover why the character behaved in a certain way, or to offer the character advice. This is a good opportunity for the teacher-in-role, or one of the characters being played by a group member, to be hot-seated. You might combine hot-seating with multiple roles. If you intend to have a scene where a character is hot-seated, make sure the characters asking the questions have a good reason for asking them, a real need to know something, or a desire to help.

Improvisation (improvised drama) – This is the term used for all drama work where the players do not use a script or a given scenario, but make up the words and/or action. It includes most forms of role-play, rehearsal exercises, many theatrical conventions, and exercises, theatresports (see Theatresports), some kinds of stand-up comedy, and performance storytelling. Many scripted plays and genres such as forum theatre (see Forum Theatre) start off as improvisation, where some genres are scripted to incorporate spaces for improvisation, as most famously in the Italian Commedia Dell’Arte.

In-role – This means that the players are acting as characters in the drama, not as themselves.

Mantle of the expert – This technique is central to process drama and involves enrolling the students in roles that demand real expertise (such as scientists, explorers, or in this drama, top investigative reporters), and modelling the rudiments of that expertise.

Master dramatists – Children’s play researcher Barbara Creaser[i] coined this phrase to describe those children who have an instinctively higher and more sophisticated ability to manage and control the elements of dramatic play than other children.

Mime (and occupational mime) – Commonly, this word is used for theatre with no words. However, it is derived from the Greek word mimesis meaning “representation”. Today, mime is used more loosely to refer to using or gesturing with pretend objects rather than real ones, and words may still be involved. When children use make believe to complete a task, such as chopping a tree down, driving a car, or buying from a shop, this is known as occupational mime. Practice in physical precision helps develop skills and build belief.

Mirrors In this famous acting exercise, the class is split into pairs, A and B, and face each other, with room to move between pairs. Starting very slowly, A makes a movement that B must copy exactly, and as close to simultaneously as possible. This is a concentration exercise, and needs to be taken seriously, with the emphasis on exact accuracy and detail, not on competition, nor on tricking the partner or making funny movements. It is meant to be a true mirror image.

Motivation – This word refers to what drives the characters in the drama.

Multi-media performance – This refers to theatrical performance that uses live performance in combination with technological media. These usually include all or some of the following: lighting effects (LFX) and sound effects (SFX) if used beyond functional illumination and amplification; slide projections; computer-generated and projected images; and special effects, such as pyrotechnics or laser beams. If you are embarking on production in schools, tread warily, as multi-media can be enormously extravagant with time and financial resources. Electronic effects are not always reliable, especially on cheap equipment, and live action needs special care in integrating multi-media effects, as the effects can very easily detract from the action.

Multiple role – This very valuable convention places all of the students, or a group of them, in the same role at the same time, where several students playing witness to an event all have to answer questions as that person. This is also a valuable technique to use in combination with “hot-seat” (see Hot-seat), so that all of the students have the opportunity to be jointly enrolled in the drama as, for example, a social worker or journalist. The students must sustain consistency with each other in order to gather the important information. Together, they can be usefully combined with small-group role-play, where the key characters in a conflict scene are simultaneously interviewed by an investigator, which is played by the group as a whole using multiple role.

Multiple role circle - This variant of the above (see Multiple role) is used as a starter to provide a pre-text for a drama. All students stand in a circle, and the teacher or questioner interrogates them one at a time as the same fictional character to establish a dramatic situation. The only rule is that the answers must always be consistent with and not undermine or contradict what has already been established.

Narrative (Plot/story) – Narrative in drama is very different from narrative in a storybook or telling a story. Dramatic narrative works by exploring in depth a series of key moments from a story and explores them in terms of their symbolic meaning, the motivations of the characters involved, and the dramatic tension they generate. We are not primarily interested in the sequence of events, or how the story will conclude (even though this is a secondary factor). The organisation of the story in order to create this sequence of key moments or “scenes” is called a plot.

Performance enactment - After the students have role-played a scene as in real life, it can occasionally be useful to ask groups to demonstrate to the whole class what happened in their role-play. An effective, quick way is to ask them to enact twenty seconds of the scene to capture the essence of their play.

Playmaking (or playbuilding) – This important part of drama education is the creation of a group-devised play for performance, usually by the whole class. Process drama makes an excellent basis for playmaking. However, a process drama cannot be re-enacted on stage as work has still to be done cutting, shaping, and editing so that what is real and powerful for the participants becomes meaningful and powerful to an audience who has not had time to become invested.

Playwright (dramatist) – Traditionally, the playwright is the artist who writes a playscript to be produced and performed. However, the playwright function is one that the teacher (often) and the students (sometimes) need to assume in process drama. When a group is deciding the outcome of a situation, either by discussion or through role-play, they are being playwrights who are engaged in developing both the narrative and the characters, as well as exploring the themes. You will soon identify the “super-dramatists” in your classes who seem to know instinctively how to shape dramatic action for maximum power and dramatic tension.

Postcards – In this well-known “starter exercise”, the class stands in a circle and the leader announces a subject for a three-dimensional picture postcard. One by one, the participants step into the circle and take up a position in the picture, as a person or an object, announcing what the object is as he or she steps into the picture. As the space fills up, the remaining participants must try and make the postcard as visually interesting and aesthetically pleasing as possible. In doing so, students are made to consider the use of space, height and levels, physical position and posture, as well as whatever stories are emerging in the space.

Process Drama – What this ArtsPOP is about! It is a drama with no outside audience, and the participants use a range of types of role-play mixed with theatre techniques to enact, explore, and represent a dramatic situation or story. The central method is usually experiential role-play (see Role-play (experiential)).

Producer – In a major theatre or film production, the Producer is the person in charge of the overall project, getting it started, and overseeing the budget. If the project is big enough to have more than one producer, the boss is known as the Executive Producer.

Production Manager – In a major theatre production, the Production Manager ensures that all of the technical and administrative aspects (such as lighting, sound, design, set-building, front-of-house, bookings, and publicity) are functioning properly.

Props (or, strictly, properties) – These are real-life (that is, not mimed) objects that characters use in a drama (see Costume).

Protagonist – This term derived from classical Greek tragedy refers to the central character in a drama that has the power of action and decision. In a drama based on two-way conflict, the protagonist’s opposite is known as the antagonist.

Puppets – These are immensely valuable and immensely varied in classroom drama. They allow children to project their thoughts and feelings onto “another” in order to articulate them. Puppets can also provide size, tangibility, mystery, and humour to the drama. Puppet genres include shadow puppets, giant puppets, finger puppets, rod puppets, marionettes, and latex puppets, all of which give children lots of imaginative models to work from.

Ritual – This is a very important component of drama, especially in classrooms. Ritual provides opportunities for students to build belief and commit themselves to the drama. The teacher made sure that stepping into the role of India TV reporters was performed seriously each time and in a proper sequence: that is, ritually. Ritual may also provide opportunities for theatre, as with the ceremony in this drama, and can be used to make the most of significant moments, such as swearing an oath of allegiance, holding a procession, or making magical potions.

Role-circle – This is a convention where the whole group assumes different roles as somebody connected with the dramatic situation, and who knows a bit about it, such as neighbours, family, friends, local tradespeople, and workmates. A teacher asks the questions, but does not lead the answers. The rules about consistency are the same as for multiple role (see Multiple Role). This is a good technique to use at the beginning of a drama to give all members of the group the chance to have input in the situation.

Role-on-the-wall[ii] – This is a technique for developing and backgrounding a character by pinning a life-size paper representation of the character on the wall or floor and inviting the participants to write words or longer comments on the image to help to define the character.

Role-play (experiential) – This form of role-play is not for performance, but for participants to identify and empathise with the characters in their dramatic context. In experiential role-play, the participants step into the shoes of other individuals and live out moments of the story, physically and emotionally. It is completely unscripted, but a particular purpose and limits are usually established. In this drama, the students used experiential role-play throughout as India TV reporters, and also when asked to change roles to become the interviewees.

Role-play (performance or shared) – This is where a pair or a group of students is asked to play out their situation in front of the rest of the class, who are given the task of observing and monitoring, and it can be for assessment. Though probably the most common form of role-play in adult training programs, this is less useful in primary drama for several reasons:

- it is difficult for inexperienced actors to concentrate simultaneously on experiencing a situation and showing it to others

- the audience is mostly passive

- some students find this level of formalised performance, without the support of prepared outcomes, quite threatening and exposing, and find it difficult to role-play whole-heartedly
- some cannot resist the temptation to show off to an audience.

It can be useful, however, if a group in a simultaneous role-play, for example, has come to an unusual conclusion, or created a particularly powerful scene, and is then asked to show the whole class for discussion purposes.

Role-play (simultaneous pairs or small-group) - For a family scene or an argument between two people, it is possible to include the whole class by having the students improvise at the same time in small groups. The leader must make sure each group is clearly separate from each other; they have enough personal background to play the characters; they feel that they can believe in the characters; they are clear about the beginning of the scene, and in general terms what will happen.

Role-play (twilight or shadowy role) – This refers to a position “on the edge” of a drama, an unspecified role. The teacher may take shadowy role in first-person narration: “So we journeyed on…”, or the participants may use the shadowy role of unspecified “voices” when interrogating a character in the “hot-seat” (see Hot-seat).

Role-play (whole class) – This important role-play structure is often used throughout a drama, as it was in this drama with the India TV studio. It needs to be set up carefully, with all participants knowing what their part in the scene will be.

Role reversal – This technique involves stopping or freezing a role-play, particularly a situation of conflict or involving polarised points of view, and asking the participants to take the opposite role. This can be achieved effectively with pairs role-playing, in contexts where the class is split into two opposing groups, and in contexts where the whole class has been working together against a common enemy. If the students are empathising strongly with their original roles, they will need some re-enrolment help to re-focus and build belief in the new position.

Scene – Any drama consists of key moments from a story that are fitted together to form a plot. The plot comprises a number of scenes, or moments, that are separated in place or time, or perhaps differ in dramatic convention or style from each other. This also applies to process drama as much it does to theatrical performance (see Narrative). 

Soundscape – This is a series of sound effects that creates a picture in sound of a particular location or dramatic context. This can incorporate percussion instruments, music, or vocalised noises, even words. Soundscapes may be used as a background, and the effects may be symbolic and atmospheric rather than literal. In this drama, the Indian music provided the score for the dance as well as an appropriate atmosphere.

Stage Manager – In a theatrical production, the Stage Manager (and Assistants, or “ASMs”) is responsible for the stage itself, and ensuring that the technical and logistical elements of a production are functional and operate as they should, which may include overseeing constructing and installing the set. The stage manager has two other important connected responsibilities:

a.) Managing the rehearsals so that the director can concentrate on the actors and the aesthetic elements (and can include taking notes for the director on the movement and blocking)
b.) “Calling the show”, which is giving the exact cues for the sound and lighting, the special effects, and most importantly, the actors’ entrances.

Status – This is a key component of relationships within and outside the drama. Drama gives the participants the opportunity to understand, and experiment with, status within the dramatic context. It also helps to suspend the real status relationships in the classroom.

Symbols – Drama in itself is a kind of symbolic re-enactment of real life. However, within every drama there are opportunities for investing moments, words, gestures, or objects with symbolic significance, beyond those things themselves, that leads to deep meaning and understanding. A handkerchief is not very grand or meaningful and it may initially take on an “iconic” symbolic value when it is tied to a stick and made out to be a flag. However, when it is captured in battle and flown defiantly by “the enemy”, re-capturing it becomes a symbolic deed that will restore a nation’s freedom and pride, thereby transforming the handkerchief into something of a holy object. In this drama, the India TV identity cards and notebooks were an important symbol to help the students stay in their roles and take the scenes seriously.

Tableau vivant – This is a series of tableaux (see Freeze-frame) representing actions over time that are animated in some way. The simplest way to achieve this is by the audience closing their eyes between each presented tableau.

Talk chair – The talk chair is an agreed space designated for the students and teacher to meet out of role and reflect on the drama that they have been involved in, to discuss the next stage, or to get together to replan if the current arrangements are not working. It is good practice to start and finish every session with the talk chair. Some teachers prefer to organise the students and themselves to sit in a circle, which is often done in secondary drama classes.

Tapping in – See Thought-tracking.

Teacher-in-role – You can and should take part in the drama yourself, as this will help the students to take the drama seriously; teacher-in-role gives you the opportunity to help control what happens without stopping the drama; and it gives you an unparalleled opportunity to suspend the power and status relationships in the classroom (See accompanying support document: Guide to Teacher-in-role).

Teacher narration – In order to introduce a scene, or a time jump, you can tell a story while the group listens, perhaps describing what happened between the last scene and the one you want them to play next. It helps for the teacher to tell the story as spell-bindingly as possible, perhaps with the children closing their eyes or lying on the floor relaxing. Teacher narration can link freeze-frames or improvised action.

Tempo and Timing – The tempo of drama describes the overall rhythm and pace of a drama. Teachers need to vary the tempo according to the demands of the story and to keep the students engaged and absorbed. Timing refers to the precise use of time from one moment to another. The timing of teachers’ intervention as teacher-in-role, for instance, needs careful consideration.

Tension ­– Dramatic tension is essential to keeping any audience engaged in a drama, and process drama is no exception. Tension is the spring that drives the drama and is derived from the answer to the fifth “W” (see Five Ws). First and foremost, the students need “tension of the task”, where in their roles they have a task that is urgent, purposeful, and that will achieve the characters’ aims. Tension may also be provided by conflict, dilemma, mystery, suspense, or surprise.

Theatre (Theatricality) – This term not only describes the physical building, but the kinds of drama that are based on performance to an audience. Something is theatrical to the extent that the actors, director, etc., concentrate on giving the audience a powerful experience.

Theatre-in-education (TIE) – This phrase, coined in England, is used to refer to plays and other dramatic experiences performed in schools, normally by visiting adults with a specific educational objective, and with elements of active participation by the audience. 

Theatresports – This is a very lively performance convention entirely based on competitive improvisation, originated by Keith Johnstone. Theatresports consists of competitions mainly based on rehearsal exercises. They are a lot of fun and are very useful for developing quick thinking and confidence, as they require participants to take performance risks in public. They should not be over-used (which may be a temptation, as they are so enjoyable), because they can lead to a superficial approach to drama work and they offer limited learning potential, particularly for curricular learning.

Thought-tracking (or Tapping in) – This is a dramatic convention where characters playing roles can be frozen and asked by the teacher or other students (who tap the character on the shoulder to activate the image) to express what is going through their mind at a particular moment in the present or in the future. This technique can be combined with freeze-frames, done in a circle, or used within forum theatre.

Time jump – Between scenes you can time jump, taking the characters backwards to explore how this situation arose, or you can jump the action forwards, perhaps hours or days, to imagine the long-term consequences. In Lesson 5 of this unit, a time jump of five years was used to help the students to reflect within the drama on the implications of their decisions.

Warm-ups – These are like games (and often consist of games), and optional to process drama. The purpose of a warm-up is to focus the participants on the drama lesson and subject matter, and to generate an appropriate energy level. Thus, in some circumstances, warm-ups should be called a “cool-down” if the students have come into the lesson excited or unruly. For this reason, it is not always a good idea to pre-plan a warm-up, although it is useful to have a stock of exercises and games to call on when needed.  

Young People’s Theatre (YPT) or Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) and occasionally, Children’s Theatre – All these phrase denotes the whole range of theatre that is performed with young people in mind, not necessarily with a specific educational context or objective. The phrases are sometimes used interchangeably with theatre-in-education (TIE; see Theatre-in-education), and confusingly, with Youth Theatre (see Youth Theatre), which is an entirely different concept.

Youth Theatre – This is usually defined as plays and performances that are created and/or performed by young people themselves.

1Creaser, B. (1989). An examination of the four-year-old master dramatist.  International Journal of Early Childhood Education, 21, 55-68.
2This technique was named by UK drama educator Jonothan Neelands, (1990). Structuring drama work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.