What the course might look like in schools

 This section outlines what Artistic Performance: Engaging with the Arts might look like in a school. The three strands of the course are closely related and their learning outcomes are worked on throughout the course. In this sense the course is not linear or sequential. The activities engaged with across the strands are designed so that they lead to the development of skills in the chosen discipline and inform and support each other. In this way, the artistic activities of observing, creating and performing are interrelated and contribute to the generation of high-quality arts experiences.

Stage 1: The process starts with choosing the artistic discipline that will form the focus of the short course. This could be, for example, in the area of drama, music/music theatre, dance or the visual arts.  Once the class group and the teacher have reached consensus on the artistic discipline, a suitable theme or focus will need to be agreed. This negotiated understanding might come about through student suggestions or teacher suggestions and could involve the viewing of other performances to determine suitability and potential adaptability of the theme to the school setting.

Stage 2: Students will need to experience and observe high quality events in the chosen discipline, reflecting on what they observe while being cognisant of their own potential involvement in the performance. Through exploring, interpreting and critically reviewing what was observed, students will start to gain an understanding of the composite and inter-related elements that combine to make a performance of high quality. When evaluating an artistic performance the following are elements that might be critiqued: staging and set design, plot development, themes and characters explored, genre, historical context, costume design, make-up, lighting design, sound design and the communication skills demonstrated by the performers. The student should also reflect on what the key messages of the performance were, how they were communicated and how the audience/viewers reacted.  This critical observation could include a personal response outlining specific reasons why the student liked or did not like the performance observed.

Stage 3: Following from a discussion on the observations made from the previous phases, the allocation of the performing and non-performing/technical roles will be considered. This could be done through an audition process and/or through an identification of an area of interest to the student subsequent to their experiences of arts activities in the previous stages. At this stage the concept agreed on needs to be expanded so that there is consensus on when and where it should be staged, an awareness of intended audience, how the performance will be marketed, the technical support required, and agreement on the nature and details of the different roles required. Throughout this planning phase, the students should always be cognisant of the potential legal issues such as applying for the rights to the performance if appropriate, and other health and safety measures that need to be considered.

Stage 4: Next, the rehearsal stage, where students engage in the development of skills specific to their chosen roles. At this stage, the group diverges, and the students actively engage in activities and experiences that will enhance their skill development in their specialist area. The group could research and use resources that will aid the development of these skills to help ensure the learning is of the highest quality. These resources could be outside experts that are available to the school, various online and digital interpretations of similar performances, or other in-school expertise that could be utilised. This phase also links back to the earlier exploration and interpretation phase, (stage two), as detailed observation of and engagement with the arts can lead to the further improvement of specific, identified skills. This part of the process is full of uncertainty, risk taking and tension as students endeavour to fit their individual skills and individual acts of creation and learning into the group experience. Through the rehearsal process students can transform many conflicting ideas, actions and constraints into one unified form: the performance.

Stage 5: The final stage is the group performance itself, the culmination of the process of bringing the idea from conception to realisation. This event should draw on the skills, knowledge and understanding gained through engaging with the arts and developed through the rehearsal process. It allows the students to transform their creative ideas into an expressive work that communicates feelings, meanings and interpretations to an audience.