Key resources 3 - Using conventions (drama techniques) to structure and develop drama
Different varieties and uses of conventions
Based on Neelands & Goode Structuring Drama Work 2nd Edition
Conventions are indicators of the way in which time, space and human presence can interact and be imaginatively shaped to create different kinds of meaning potential in drama. Particular conventions will, therefore, emphasise different qualities in the dramatic possibilities of time, space and human presence. In terms of time, for instance, an Improvisation will create a relationship that is very close to reality in the sense that time elapses at life-rate and the actor behaves and uses space naturalistically. In Still-Images time is arrested and frozen so that a period of actual time can be spent inquiring into a single moment of time held in the still-image. In Mimed Activity the actor’s use of space is often overtly non-naturalistic or symbolic, going beyond ‘natural’ gesture and uses of space in order to communicate specific meanings.
The conventions have been organised into groups, which represent four modes of dramatic action. These modes relate to specific needs required for participation in drama. Knowing, through practice, the types and the conventions themselves, gives both teachers and pupils’ choices in how to develop their drama work.
||Which either ‘set the scene’ or add information to the situation of the drama as it unfolds.
||A shared understanding of place, time, characters and other contextual info is crucial to quality of involvement in the drama
||Guided tour, Still-Image, Role-on-the-Wall, Objects of Character, Collective drawing
||Which tend to emphasise the ‘plot’ or ‘what-happens-next’ dimension of the drama.
||Arousing curiosity about the story line and a sense of imminent action act as motivation for those acting or spectating in the drama
||A Day in the Life, Hot Seating, Meetings, Teacher-in-Role, Reportage
||Which emphasise or create the symbolic potential of the drama through highly selective use of language and gesture.
||Participants need to look beyond the surface of ‘plot’ and to recognise and create a symbolic dimension to the work
||Action Narration, Gestus, Ritual, Masks, Montage
||Which emphasise ‘soliloquy’ or ‘inner thinking’ in the drama or for reviewing the drama from within.
||Participants need to reflect on the meanings and themes which emerge during the drama
||Giving Witness, Thought-Tracking, Voices in the Head, Group Sculpture