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, techniques and processes, and use materials 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.

Making in Drama involves 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 use of contrast, juxtaposition, dramatic symbol, cause and effect, and linear and episodic plot forms.

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

Both making and responding involve developing 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 narrative shapes and structures dramatic action. 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 symbolically present and share human experiences for audiences.

Knowledge and skills of Drama

In Drama, students physically inhabit an imagined role in a situation. By being in role and responding to role, students explore behaviour in the symbolic form of 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.

Creating, performing and viewing drama enables the exploration of ideas and feelings. The exploration of dramatic forms and styles, and associated cultural, social and historical contexts, diversifies students’ expression, understanding and experience of their world.

Students discover and explore the elements of drama, applying principles and making and responding to drama in various forms.

The information below outlines the knowledge and skills that students need to develop in drama. Terms specific to this curriculum are defined in the glossary and a hyperlink to examples of band-appropriate knowledge and skills is provided with the content descriptions.

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 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’ meanings and the audiences’ interpretations. Meanings and interpretations are informed by social, cultural and historical contexts, and an understanding of how elements, materials, skills and processes are used. These questions provide the basis for making informed critical judgements about their own drama 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

Through making and responding, students develop knowledge, skills and understanding of their drama making, developing the capacity to use proficiently the techniques of voice and movement to make drama. Students learn the skills of 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 processes of dramatic playing, role-playing, improvising, process drama, playbuilding, interpreting scripts, rehearsing and directing, and responding to drama as audience. As students progress, particularly in secondary school, they add specific skills and processes of drama practice: acting, directing, scriptwriting, dramaturgy, designing, 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 performance spaces.

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