Drama Games/Role Play

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An evaluation of drama games/role play as an approach to developing students' competencies

1.0 Introduction

I am a Head of Department (Performing Arts) at a F.E. College in Bristol. I am also a professional Theatre Director who worked on an important project which afforded the student an opportunity to work in a professional manner, in a professional venue. The students have taken part in a production of 'Watership Down - The Musical' at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff from the 8th December 2008.

The research proposal previously submitted, detailed the intended aims of my final Work Based and Integrative Studies (WBIS) research project, and it outlined a clear rationale for researching my chosen topic in order to enhance work-based practice and further my knowledge in the subject area selected.

The production had been commissioned on a profit share basis with my company retaining the major share of the proceeds and ex-students (the leads) being paid and the musical theatre students using the experience as genuine, professional, 'work experience'.

There is a substantial amount of research into this issue, as seen by the literature review, but the research does not extend into the professional theatre per se. There is research on: 'Drama as an aid to academic success;' 'Drama as an aid to developing social skills;' 'Drama as an aid to working with emotional deprived of scarred children; but as far as I can ascertain, no research work has been done within the context of a professional theatre venue.

For part of the research project, I looked at the differences in learning between age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic groups within the class and made an evaluation of the different processes required.

I used a project approach as a strategy for creating opportunities to explore and analyse the contemporary/cultural issues that are addressed in the book. 'Watership Down' is not merely an allegory about rabbits but has a deep underlying subtext about such issues as bullying; capture and torture; (reference to Guantanamo Bay perhaps) disability differences in people; travellers/gypsies; isolation; compulsory purchase; green ethics and more. By enacting Watership Down, I had the opportunity to engage with the students and to support their exploration of the many issues listed above and additionally facilitate interpersonal skill development such as better communications skills, problem solving, relationships, reliability etc.

My research project is based on the Professional Practice Award in Performing Arts aspect of the title and considers the following statement:

'An evaluation of drama games/role play as an approach to developing students' competencies.

All the research was carried out during the process of production.

It has been my experience, when working with students, that drama games and role play are an excellent way in which to engage students in the learning process. Beard, Salas and Prince (1995) undertook to use role play within several empirical industries i.e. the aviation and medical industry. This role play was experimental within these types of industry. They realised through research, that team building and learning through games and/or role play can be highly effective tools which can ...
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