To evaluate something is to measure its worth. It demands considered judgement and analysis. To evaluate drama and theatre you must be able to recognise what was and wasn’t successful onstage and recognise all the elements that contribute to the impact of a production. If you’re writing about theatre it may be to evaluate your own work or that of others in a production you’ve seen. A written account of the strengths and weaknesses of a show is called a review.
If you’re writing about a live theatre production or submitting a review, you need to understand what this means. It’s an opinion and its job is to advise others about how good (or bad) something is.
Renowned theatre critic, Kenneth Tynan with actor, Laurence Olivier, 1975
People all have different tastes so opinions must always be justified. This means backed up with a clear example to support every argument. You must say why you did or didn’t like a particular aspect of the work. If you just give your opinion without a good reason others might not trust it. You would also need a thorough knowledge of drama elements, the drama medium and explorative strategies so you can note how they’re used in the work you’re writing about.
Even professional reviewers of theatre (called theatre critics) rarely write wholly negative reviews. If they slated a production, (called a ‘hatchet job’), without evidence that they’ve searched for some positives, the reader might feel less inclined to believe them. Their review would then lack authority.
Steer clear of phrases like ‘I thought it was terrible’ or ‘I found it boring’. Not only will you sound unintelligent but arrogant too. Remember that you’re writing about the work of professionals who may have much more experience and understanding of theatre than you do.
The practical work on the drama stimuli you're using will form the basis of your Documentary Response. This is where you show how you've worked on the text during your course. You can find out how to make a good Documentary Response in the Further Development section.
What do I need to do?
For your Drama coursework you'll be writing two Documentary Responses - the first based on Unit 1 Drama Exploration which will not exceed 2,000 words.
The second will be based on Unit 2 Exploring Play Texts which will not exceed 1,000 words.
In addition and as part of Unit 2 you will write a Documentary Response to live theatre which will not exceed 2,000 words.
When will I write these?
You will be directed to write these in school while your teacher is supervising you during and/or after the practical workshop is completed.
Will I have chance to prepare for writing them?
After each workshop you need to write some notes about what you did (including what drama strategies, drama medium and elements of drama you used during the session). This task may be set as homework.
If photographs were taken during the session you can bring these with you to use in your Documentary Response. If you created any diagrams or drawings these can be brought in too… along with the collection of notes that you made during and/or after each workshop.
How long will I have to write it up?
Your teacher will work out how long you will need to complete the Documentary Response and will allocate time in school for its completion. The notes that you have made after each workshop will be used during this period and then will be kept in school.
What's a drama exploration workshop?
A drama exploration workshop usually takes place during drama lessons, and may continue over a number of weeks. However, your teacher may make arrangements to do the complete workshop in one complete day. It is as a result of the workshop(s) and what you have done practically that will form the content of your Documentary Response.
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