Dramatic Arts

This subject is about the history and progress of performance and entertainment from ritual to the modern era.

Beyond the theoretical aspects of the syllabus, including the development of an appreciation for the written word, the subject also explores the development of practical skills of presentation, such as:

  • the enhancement of self-confidence
  • the dynamics of working in a group
  • the encouragement of creative thinking and critical thought.

In Forms 4 to 6 (Grade 10 to 12), the subject involves both theoretical and practical components, which are given equal weight.

What are the aims of the course?

To develop:

  • communication skills, not necessarily to train actors
  • self confidence
  • sensitivity to others and social skills that develop from group work
  • independent, critical thought and creativity
  • an understanding of and respect for different cultures and their dramatic expression

Could you do Dramatic Arts?

  • Yes, no previous experience in Drama is needed to take it as a Matric subject.
  • Your enthusiasm and energy are more important than your “ability to act”.
  • A good Drama student is enthusiastic, creative and willing to try out new things.
  • He need not be loud or out-going.
  • Drama is NOT an easy option. It is time consuming.

What does Dramatic Arts involve?

  • A theory component (50 %)
  • A practical component (50 %)
  • It requires a strong work ethic and commitment to group members.
  • Performance preparation for assessed performances requires at least 45 minutes for practice sessions outside formal lesson time with your group and regular individual practice at home.
  • It is hard work but the thrill of performing before an audience is second to none.

Course Outline

Theory Component (50%) – Grades 10-12

  • Theatre History: A look at trends in the different eras.
  • Plays and Playwrights: Studied in detail with an emphasis on the performance of the text.
  • Principles of Speech: A basic understanding of how to produce a strong, clear and expressive voice.

NB. This is assessed in a 3 hour theory exam in Grades 10-12. The Matric Theory Exam, for 150 marks, includes a compulsory essay writing question, contextual questions and application of personal resources to source-based questions.

Practical Work (50%) – Grades 10-12

  • Focuses on developing skills in characterisation, mime, physical theatre, and creative interpretation of poetry, plays and other forms of literature.
  • Expressed through dramatic mediums of monologues, choral verses, poetry, dramatised prose, scenes and movement pieces.

(NB. The final Matric Practical Exam is a THEME PROGRAMME – 150 marks which you prepare in a group).

Dramatic Arts Assessed Performances:


Mini Theme Programmes:

  • Choral Verse
  • Monologues
  • Scene
  • Movement Piece


  • Scripted Commedia del ‘Arte Scenes

GRADE 11: DRAMATIC ARTS FESTIVAL – Internal Assessment

Theme Workshopped Scenes:

  • Research on a topical issue
  • Creating the scene using Workshop techniques
  • Presenting

GRADE 12: THEME PROGRAMMES – Internal and External Assessment

  • Choral Verse
  • Monologues
  • Scene
  • Movement Piece
  • Creative Links

How can Dramatic Arts help my career?

  • This course does not simply train people for careers in the Performing Arts.
  • It helps you develop confidence and the ability to think laterally and deal with people effectively.
  • Most jobs involve working and dealing with other people and many employers will consider it an advantage that you have studied Drama.

Who should opt for this subject?

This subject will develop all boys who take it. It will obviously be well suited to those who enjoy the theatre and performance, but it will also certainly benefit boys who tend to be inhibited. It teaches self-confidence which is a vital life skill. Boys who are strong at English usually excel at the theory side of the subject. Dramatic Arts develops the human instrument (body, mind, voice, emotions) as a medium of expression, communication and creativity. This helps boys acquire the valuable skills of confidence, a sense of self, and an extension of one’s comfort zone. Able boys are extended through having opportunities to perform in school productions, while those who prefer other areas of drama, may excel in design, direction or other areas.

Outline of the Curriculum

Form 4

  • Theatre History includes Greek, Medieval and the Commedia del’Arte
  • A selection of plays such as Oedipus Rex, Saturday Night at the Palace and Tsotsi are studied
  • Costume, makeup & props
  • Attendance of theatrical productions
  • Practical work

Form 5

  • Theatre History includes Elizabethan, Melodrama, 19th Century Realism, Stanislavki’s influence, American Theatre and local theatre
  • Extracts from Shakespeare are dramatised. The Glass Menagerie and Woza Albert are studied in depth
  • Basic elements in a play
  • Attendance of theatrical productions
  • Practical work

Form 6

  • Genres such as Realism, Naturalism, Expressionism, Experimental Symbolism and Theatre of the Absurd are studied
  • Waiting for Godot, Sophiatown and Nothing but the Truth are analysed and extracts enacted
  • Vocal emphasis
  • Attendance of theatrical productions
  • Practical work