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Dramatic performance

When I was at school I wasn’t a confident public speaker, let alone performer. So I always found the prospect of having to get up in front of my classmates and perform a scene from a play a bit daunting. This meant that in order to get a good mark, I really had to put the work in, so that come performance day, speaking the lines felt completely natural. If you put this preparation in, then you’re likely to overcome nervousness on the day and give a good show.

The first thing to consider when you have to give a performance is whether it will be a solo assessment or a group assessment. This will affect the type of scene from a play that you pick. If it’s a group assessment, then you need a scene where there are multiple parts, and each of the parts has a comparable amount of dialogue. If one person has 90% of the dialogue, it makes it really hard for the others, when they only have one or two sentences, to convince the teacher that they deserve a good mark.

However, quite often you’ll be asked to perform a solo speech or a soliloquy. A soliloquy is given by a character speaking their thoughts out loud. One of the most famous soliloquies is from the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, spoken by the lead character, Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

It keeps going in that vein for a while longer; look up the play if you want to read the whole thing.

When you pick a scene to perform, whether it’s in a group or by yourself, you want to strike the right balance between choosing a great scene and choosing one that hasn’t been done to death. This can be quite tricky, and may require some snooping around to find out what other people are probably going to do.

Dramatic performance

Doing the same scene as someone else in the class can be OK, but only if you’re confident that you’ll do a better job! Invariably, if two people perform the same scene, comparisons will be made. If you’re the better of the two, that’s fine, but if you’re not, then you’re probably limiting yourself to a lower mark than you might have got doing a unique performance.