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Level 3 Drama Diploma

Introduction

A play is a story written by a playwright to show the development of a situation and its outcome. Each module deals with a different play in some detail and includes technical information relating to production of a play, use of a stage, lighting, costume, setting etc. Every play examples a different genre of drama and offers insight into different techniques in the style of writing and production.

More and more technical and literary detail is added as the student progresses through the modules so that by the end the learner will have a comprehensive view of the production of drama, from writing through to characterisation to the final, completed play on stage.

Each module contains student tasks within the text and ends with a self-assessment exercise so that the learner can assess his/her knowledge.

drama diploma

Level 3 Drama Diploma Entry Requirements

All students must be 16 years of age and above to enrol onto our Level 3 Drama Diploma course.

Level 3 Diploma courses require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order that students can manage their studies and the assumed knowledge within course content.

Study Hours

Approximately 20 hours per unit.

Assessment

Optional coursework and final examination.

Enrolment

Please note that you can enrol on this course at anytime.

Course Length

1 Year.

Awarding Body

ABC Awards

Level 3 Drama Diploma Course Content

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module One: The Essential Principles of Drama

This module deals with background details and the history of the development of drama, as well as explaining relevant technical terms to enable the student to acquire a good knowledge base for further studies; student objectives for learning are highlighted to help the learner keep on track. Sub-genres of drama are explained, such as Tragedy, Comedy, Closet Drama etc. More detailed discussion follows on points to be considered in the production of a play, looking at how audience perceptions are affected by the mechanics of stage and theatre such as use of stage directions, different stage layouts, use of lighting, costume, sound effects and props. Relating to this, the learner is asked to consider the playwright’s intentions and the use of plot lines in drama. Literary terms relating to drama are listed and explained.

Student tasks are given at intervals throughout the module to focus studies on relevant points.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Two: As You Like It

This module starts with a short biography of Shakespeare detailing his personal life and his success as a poet and playwright; his popularity with both the general public and with royalty is touched on. As You Like It is a romantic comedy and as such is a good example of Elizabethan Christian Comedy. Unusually, this play also belongs to the genre of Pastoral – an interesting aspect for the student to study further. The learner will begin to develop a deeper understanding of the play as the module goes on to examine the setting, plot and characters. The student will be asked to look at themes within the play such as city life contrasted with rural life, the human experience and especially with love in its many guises. Motifs and symbols within the play are also examined. An analysis of the play, scene by scene, follows, with student tasks at intervals which focus on pinpointing use of themes and motifs and developing understanding of them. Central characters in the play are Rosalind (witty and manipulative she spends most of the play disguised as Ganymede; she professes to be unromantic at the same time finding herself in madly love with Orlando); Celia (Rosalind’s cousin and closest friend); Oliver (brother of Orlando; his character undergoes a dramatic change) and Orlando (a gentleman by birth but lacking social niceties due to a lack of education). Analysis of the characters reveals their importance to the story line and other characters and action.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Three: Othello

Othello is as relevant today as when it was first performed with many cultural and emotional references. This play is a tragedy; the action centres around Othello, the protagonist and hero, Desdemona and Iago. During studies of this play the student will be encouraged to look at gestures and stagecraft in relation to production of the play both for today’s audience and in Shakespeare’s time. The learner will also examine the portrayal of the ‘tragic hero’ and how it relies here on plot within plot. The characters are examined before moving on to look at the enduring attraction of tragedies. Themes of Othello include isolation, heroism and love; motifs include plants (with allusions to poisons), sight and blindness, animals and demons and monsters especially in relation to jealousy (“it is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on”). Symbols in this play include Desdemona’s handkerchief which becomes symbolic of her supposed infidelity, and ‘The Willow Song’ which is used to build on this and emphasise Othello’s jealousy. A précis of the scenes and main points will assist the student in analysing both the action and the characters.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Four: The Cherry Orchard

This module starts with a biography of Chekhov including historical background to his life and writing and detailing influences on his career. A central theme in his writing is modern versus old Russia and the conflicts which can result. The main characters of The Cherry Orchard are detailed to assist the learner. The play and characters are dominated by the orchard; students are encouraged to explore how the orchard represents aspects of each character’s memories and how they are drawn together or pushed apart by their links with the orchard. The play is summarised scene by scene with analytical comments to assist the learner in understanding the plot and characters. Student tasks along the way are given to help the learner consolidate learning.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Five: Death of a Salesman

Students are given a brief biography of Arthur Asher Miller detailing his formative years and education, followed by a list of his major works. Death of a Salesman is the most famous of Miller’s plays in which he attacks the American Dream. Themes: The American Dream related to capitalism and individual success – somehow it has come to represent personal qualities, in particular being ‘better’ than others, or perhaps simply financially secure and successful in work life; McCarthyism – Miller incorporates allusions to Communist ideals and principles at a time of public unrest about Communism; Capitalism – Miller intended to express the ideals which existed within society at the time. The characters of the play are listed and details will help the student to understand them and their thoughts and feelings. This is followed by a synopsis of the story and a scene by scene account and analysis. As with previous modules the student tasks along the way will assist with learning and understanding of the play and the characters.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Six: Pygmalion

The short biography of George Bernard Shaw reveals some unusual details about the man himself. Pygmalion is the most well known of his plays and has undergone several adaptations for the screen and theatre. The main characters are detailed for the student, the two most important being Professor Henry Higgins who is portrayed as an academic with few social graces and Eliza Doolittle who has a sparkling personality. The story is summarised and analysed and then broken down scene by scene for the student. This play is a romance, but is very unconventional. Higgins and Eliza become reliant on each other, but how can the audience know if they are truly in love? Throughout the play Eliza undergoes a complete transformation; her personal beliefs and attitudes link strongly to a main theme which is social position; this in turn leads us to consider the effect that money (or lack of it) has on the different characters. As before the student tasks assist in gaining a deeper appreciation of the play.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Seven: A Streetcar Named Desire

A biography of Tennessee Williams and details of his most well-known works and background to A Streetcar Named Desire open the way for the student to study this play. Some more literary terms in relation to drama are introduced and explained for the learner. The student will go on to study characterisation in drama in more detail, also looking in more depth at elements of stagecraft such as stage directions and lighting. The characters of the play are then introduced and analysed for the student: Blanche – the unstereotypical heroine, Stanley Kowalski – a childish man who is also a bully, Stella – overshadowed by her sister Blanche and besotted with Stanley, Mitch – an introvert and a foil to Stanley. The themes reveal further details of Tennesse Williams’ own fears and worries: fate, desire, death and madness. Once again, the play is broken down and analysed scene by scene with student tasks to assist the learner in gaining a deeper understanding of the characters and action.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Eight: An Inspector Calls

Students are encouraged to make a close examination of stage directions and introductions to scene changes drawing on knowledge gained from previous modules to assist in understanding the details of the play. Additionally the learner is asked to consider the role of the actor/actress in conveying the personality of the character they play on stage for the audience. Themes, setting, language, characters, staging and performance are discussed in general terms as well as for this play in particular. The student can then move on to a biography of J.B. Priestley. Themes in the play are explained and include love, morality and personal responsibilities. As in previous modules the play is detailed scene by scene and the action is analysed and explained. The characters in this play all embark on a journey of discovery taking the audience with them. Some may view the play as simplistic; others may feel that Priestley is telling a story with moral implications. Audience perception of the character of Inspector Goole is challenged by a strange twist in the action in the closing scene of the play which ends where it began.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Nine: Top Girls

A short biography on Caryl Churchill is given; she is known for her non-realistic techniques and for writing which deals with feminist issues. She is categorised as a Post-Modern playwright (post-modernist literature makes a break with realism). Styles of writing (modern, post-modern, realism) are explained here and the play is put into context historically. Top Girls has an all-female cast and is acclaimed for the way it deals with pressures on successful women as well as for the techniques used in the writing. The main characters – Angie (Marlene’s child), Joyce (Marlene’s elder sister), Kit (Angie’s friend), and Marlene (the central character) are explained and analysed, along with other characters in the play. Their personality traits, likes and dislikes are examined so that the learner can appreciate the action and story of the drama. The play is non-linear, which means that in production, scenes can be played in a different order. The action incorporates fantasy, reality, success, failure, social and class issues and gender issues and sexism; men are clearly absent from the action and only appear on the periphery of the play. Churchill is commenting on the role of working women and the play reflects their work experiences and opportunities of the eighties. The play is analysed scene by scene. Prompt questions and student tasks assist with learning.

Level 3 Drama Diploma Module Ten: Educating Rita

Willy Russell, playwright, author and songwriter is profiled. He was not very successful at school but had aspirations to become a writer and managed to pass an English O Level by studying of an evening after he had left school and started work as a hairdresser. Other work by Russell includes the well-known Shirley Valentine. The student is directed to look at similarities between Educating Rita and Pygmalion; Rita changes radically throughout the action, as does Eliza Doolittle. Like Eliza, Rita is bright and vivacious. Themes include family and personal lack of fulfilment – themes which can also be found in Pygmalion – as well as transformation. The module follows the same format as others giving the learner a breakdown of the play scene by scene, and interspersing student learning tasks. The ending of the play is full of possibilities for Rita and Frank; Rita is now in control of her own destiny, no longer defined or restricted by her social class or work and Frank intends to go to Australia in the hope of finding personal fulfilment.

Progression

This Level 3 Drama Diploma course can be used to gain entry to a Level 4 Diploma or higher.

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