Faculty of Arts


Performance Skills

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for DRAMA 302.


“In your Choice is your talent” – Stella Adler

“There are three masks: the one we think we are, the one we really are and the one we have in common” – Jacques Le Coq

“In order to effectively evoke the inner life [of a character], it is vital that actors spend an equal amount of time developing the vehicle for this expression, the physical skills of a flexible and evenly produced voice, a supple and strong body, musical rhythm and controlled, relaxed movement. Equally important is an inquiring mind for history, politics, psychology and culture. It is easy to see why most teachers refer to the acting profession as a lifetime of learning” – Arthur Bartow, The Handbook of Acting Techniques

“There is no such thing as talent, only its manifest lack” – Jerzy Grotowski

Aims and outcomes

During this course we aim to:

  • Help you discover and develop your faculty and power as an actor
  • Help you learn to treat and tune your body as the actor’s instrument
  • Expose you to a range of performance techniques and exercises that you can use in your own practice
  • Develop your own observational, storytelling and creating skills as an actor.

While one semester of classes can only provide you a taste of acting training, this course will introduce you to practical skills that you can continue to employ in your own work outside of the classroom. Even if your long-term interest is not in acting – rather, say, writing or directing or designing or criticism or teaching – it is important that you gain some insight into what actors do and the ways they might do it.

The course is divided into units led by specialised tutors:

  • Improvisation  
  • Acting and Action 
  • Voice and Speech  
  • Movement and Physical Theatre  

The work is focused on YOU as an actor and performer – discovering and understanding your raw material (body, voice, mind, spirit) and developing it in ways that enhance your strengths and faculty as an actor and begin to identify and overcome your weaknesses.

The course ends with a solo performance. The shape of this solo is given to you and is the same for everyone. The idea is for you to bring your own interpretation to the format of the solo. It is a chance for you to combine some of the skills you have encountered in the course with your own existing strengths to show yourself as a performer.

The emphasis is on the actor as a creative being, rather than training in the interpretation of roles and characters from existing texts. Classes will investigate what sources and resources actors draw on for their art and craft. Hopefully by the end you will have found some of your power as a performer and be able to recognise the value and quality of the work of other actors.

Provisional class limits for 2018:

Enrolment is limited to 25 students. First priority: students with a Drama major ranked by grade in Drama 204 and GPA in best 30pts passed at Stage II.  Second priority to Drama minors ranked by grade in Drama 204 and GPA in best 30pts passed at Stage II.  Third priority: other students ranked by grade in DRAMA 204 and GPA in best 30pts passed at Stage II.  Fourth priority: non-Drama Majors ranked by grade in Drama-related courses.  Fifth priority: students with other demonstrable experience in the dramatic arts.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Emma Willis

Recommended Reading

To be advised


Coursework only


DRAMA 302: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II and approval of Academic Head or nominee



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