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Learning in Drama

Learning in Drama involves students making, performing, analysing and responding to drama, drawing on human experience as a source of ideas. Students engage with the knowledge of drama, develop skills, apply techniques and process and use materials and technologies as they explore a range of forms, styles and contexts.

Through Drama, students learn to reflect critically on their own experiences and responses and further their own aesthetic knowledge and preferences. They learn with growing sophistication to express and communicate experiences through and about drama.   

In Drama, students physically inhabit an imagined role in a situation. By being in a role and responding to a role, students explore behaviour through dramatic storytelling and dramatic action. In purposeful play, students’ exploration of role sharpens their perceptions and enables personal expression and response. Their intellectual and emotional capacity grows, specifically the capacity to feel and manage empathy.  As audiences, students learn to critically respond to and contextualise the dramatic action and stories they view and perceive.

For advice about how schools might implement the curriculum respectfully and with cultural awareness and understanding, please refer to the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI) Protocols for Koorie Education in Victorian Primary and Secondary schools and the Department of Education and Training's Koorie Cross-Curricular Protocols (click here for a PDF copy). 

Making and Responding in Drama

The curriculum in each Arts discipline is based on two overarching principles:

  • students learn as artist and as audience
  • students learn through making and responding.

Making in Drama involves the practices of improvising, devising, playing, acting, directing, comparing and contrasting, refining, interpreting, scripting, practising, rehearsing, presenting and performing. Students use movement and voice along with language and ideas to explore roles, characters, relationships and situations. They learn to shape and structure drama including the use of contrast, juxtaposition, dramatic symbol, cause and effect, and linear and episodic plot forms.

Responding in Drama involves students being audience members and engaging in the practices of listening to, enjoying, reflecting, analysing, appreciating and evaluating their own and others’ drama works.

Making and responding are intrinsically connected. Together they provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills as artists and audience. As students make they consider both the audience and their own response to their work and as students respond they draw on the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired through their experiences in making artworks and as audiences of other artists’ work. Both making and responding involve developing a practical and critical understanding of how the elements of drama can be used to shape and structure drama that engages audiences and communicates meaning.

Learning in Drama is based on two fundamental building blocks: the elements of drama and the ways that dramatic action can be structured and shaped. The elements of drama work dynamically together to create and focus dramatic action and dramatic meaning. Dramatic action is shaped by dramatic tension, space and time, and mood and atmosphere to present and share human experiences for audiences.

The elements of drama

The elements of drama work dynamically together to create and focus dramatic action and dramatic meaning. Drama is conceived, organised, and shaped by aspects of and combinations of role, character and relationships, situation, voice and movement, space and time, focus, tension, language, ideas and dramatic meaning, mood and atmosphere and symbol.

Principles of narrative (story)

The elements of drama are combined to shape narrative (story) through using contrast, juxtaposition, dramatic symbol and other devices of story.


In both Making and Responding, students learn that meanings can be generated from different viewpoints and that these shift according to different world encounters. As students make, investigate or critique drama as actors, directors and audiences, they may ask and answer questions to interrogate the playwrights’ and actors’ practice or meanings and the audiences’ interpretations. Meanings and interpretations are informed by differing contexts, and an understanding of how elements, materials, skills and processes are used. These questions provide the basis for making informed critical judgments about their own drama practices and the drama they see as audiences. The complexity and sophistication of such questions will change across Foundation to Year 10. In the later years, students will consider the interests and concerns of artists and audiences regarding philosophies and ideologies, critical theories, institutions and psychology.


In Drama, form is the way drama is structured and students are taught the forms of devised and scripted drama. Drama forms are shaped by the application of the elements of drama within particular social, cultural and historical contexts.

In all years, students draw on, use and analyse drama genres, forms and styles from a range of historical and cultural contexts. They begin with the drama in their immediate lives and community and identify the purposes of drama. They draw on the histories, traditions and conventions of drama from other places and times including drama from Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, Asia and other world cultures. As students learn drama, particularly in secondary schools, they broaden their experiences of particular places and times, forms and representational and presentational styles as a springboard for their making and responding.

In their drama, students use a variety of sources including stories, personal experiences and historical and current events to create meaning through situations and characters. They also draw on their experiences in other Arts subjects and learning areas.

Skills, techniques and processes

As they learn in Drama, students build their capacity to use the techniques of voice and movement to make drama. Students practise working collaboratively, recognising that imaginative, creative and critically analytic teamwork is central to Drama. They apply the elements of drama and principles of story. They interpret and perform texts, devise drama and develop scripts and scriptwriting skills. They apply design elements and production components.

In their drama, students develop their understanding of the practices and processes of dramatic playing, role–playing, improvising, process drama, play-building, interpreting scripts, rehearsing and directing, and responding to drama as an audience. As students progress, particularly in secondary school, they add specific skills and processes of drama practice: acting, directing, scriptwriting, dramaturgy, designing, applying stagecraft, producing, managing and critical analysis.


In developing knowledge and skills of drama, students use the materials of their voices and bodies (movement, facial expression, gesture, posture). They also use the production components of props, costumes, lighting, sound and staging equipment and technologies and performance spaces.

Information Communication Technologies and The Arts

Information Communication Technologies (ICT) are powerful tools that can support student learning. Students can develop and demonstrate their understanding of concepts and content in The Arts through using a range of ICT tools. It is also important that students know how to use these ICT efficiently and responsibly, as well as learning how to protect themselves and secure their data.

Details of how ICT can support student learning in The Arts is set out in the attached Information Communication Technologies and The Arts pdf.


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