Theatre Studies at A-Level is certainly not for the faint hearted. Similar to English Literature, you need to present your ideas in a coherent structure and are required to analyse language. However, you have to go one step further; you must bring 2-D characters from the plays’ pages alive and make them realistic and engaging for the examiner marking your essay. Can you imagine reading your own essay over 100 times? …Imagine how the examiner feels. With the competitive nature of exams it is imperative to stand out from the crowd. By following the tips below you are sure to make a lasting impression.
For more A-Level theatre studies revision tips, speak to one of our fantastic tutors at Tavistock Tutors.
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Be sure to re-read the plays you were assigned at least one more time before going into the exam. Even if you feel like you know it back to front there may be new things you pick up on each time.
Know your Practitioner:
Whether it is Brecht or Pinter it is essential you understand the playwright’s style. Create a table with the terminology used by the playwright and an example from the play where it is used. Add another column where you can describe how you will include their style in your individual performance. (A great way to make your essay unique.)
Try to find out about the events surrounding the playwright’s life or social context of when the play was written. You only need a few points – this will show the examiner you have taken initiative to do further studies beyond your course.
Your play in action:
See if the play you are studying is being performed anywhere, adapted into a film or voice recorded online. Watching or hearing the script can help bring the play to life.
Making your characters realistic and believable makes your essay enjoyable and engaging for the examiner to read. Here’s how:
Who am I? –
When taking on a new role as an actor, knowing your character’s journey is crucial. Write the top ten key moments your character experiences. This will help highlight what your super-objective is; understanding what motivates your character underpins and decides how you will play them.
Try standing as the character. Are they hunched over or bolt upright? Is their gait (how they move) rigid and stiff or graceful and light? Using adjectives is key to emphasise the natural physicality of the character. An extra tip is to describe how your breathing would help your performance.
Whether you are an actor or not, no one always sounds the same. Make a list of how you could change your tone of voice to convey different emotions. Consider how the volume would change the audience’s experience of your performance. Whispering is an effective device on stage and often overlooked. Could you include this for a moment on stage to entice the audience to empathise with your character?
We are only as real as the world we live, so is your character. If you are going to modernise your play make sure you explain why it is relevant and what it adds to your performance; consider the effects of different technologies. If you are keeping the original era, research the furniture or wall designs that are relevant and think of how they relate and enhance your performance. Why not try creating your set online with a free room design website so you can have a visual representation.
Whilst you might think the exam will be easy if you can take in notes (depending on which board you are taking) it is essential your notes are clear and concise so that they are easily to follow. Make bullet points of what you need to include in your introduction. Use different colours for different themes. Have the terms you will use with their definitions in case you forget. In large font or bright colours write useful words such as: Tone, Pitch, Posture, Gait and Movement to remind yourself of the types of description you need to include.
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