Antigone and the written exam – Rhinegold Publishing

Antigone and the written exam


The aim of this scheme of work is to provide AQA Drama and Theatre Studies students with an approach that shows how practical work can be turned into successful exam essays. Students must be aware of the kind of exam questions that they are likely to face.

The approach taken here of developing essay planning ideas is appropriate to all of the set texts for DRA 1 section B. This scheme of work uses Antigone as an example and adopts a more traditional setting and time period for the play, but modern transpositions are perfectly acceptable, as long as they are clearly justified and appropriate to the demands of the play and the playwright’s intentions. A spiky-haired rebellious Antigone in Doc Martens will work as successfully as one with long, dark hair gently tied back, wearing a chiton and barefoot.

A good essay on Antigone should bring the chosen extract of the play to life on stage for the examiner, show an understanding of context and convey meaning to an audience. For an acting-based essay, it should be possible to give that essay to an actor and ask them to follow the ideas the essay contains in order to bring the chosen character to life. An essay is essentially a plan of how to bring a character to life at a specific moment in the play. If the ideas are clear and appropriate, then an actor should be easily able to follow them. 

Theatre Studies students have 45 minutes to write their set text essays. Focus on the question, practical ideas and a theoretical understanding of the play are vital components of a successful exam essay. Centre produced essay templates are ill advised as an approach. Just like in section A, Antigone essays should be personal, individual responses to the chosen extract from the play. They should show an understanding of who the character to be discussed actually is and what is their dramatic function in the scene specified. But most importantly, have the students actually answered the question asked? This is so often where they come unstuck.

Learning objectives
By the end of this scheme of work students will be:

  • Developing the use of a range of performance skills
  • Building up an appropriate vocabulary to show understanding of Greek tragic style
  • Coping with the time demands of AS set text essays
  • Covering a sufficient amount of the extract and choosing ‘key moments’
  • Have awareness of the use and value of quotations
  • Avoiding ‘floating actor’ syndrome
  • Suggesting appropriate performing ideas that will actually work for an actor on stage
  • Avoiding aiming for too many audience responses in one short extract – leading to a fragmented approach to the text
  • Using past-paper essay questions to structure lesson planning and practical work
  • Answering the question asked
  • Covering the What, Why and How of the question – and the How is where the marks are

Number of lessons: 4

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