This programme of work is a six-hour plan suitable for the Edexcel Unit 1 exam. The programme allows students to explore the dramatic potential of the theme of mental disorders through a variety of stimuli and has produced some outstanding work. I initially came up with the idea when I explored the theme in a mini-project with my Year 10 class, a few years ago. The work produced was of such an excellent standard that the following year I adapted and extended the programme to meet the requirements for the Edexcel Unit 1 exam. This programme has proved to challenge and engage students. I would suggest that it is best explored with a class who are comfortable with each other and have built a trusting atmosphere, as the ideas produced are often very mature.
The programme is a six-hour practical exam, meeting the requirements set by Edexcel for the Unit 1 exam. As well as using learning objectives with the class I have the exam criteria up around the room and refer to them throughout the exam. I currently do this as a full-day session, but have split the day into seven one-hour workshops; it is easily adaptable for any format (this allows for an hour’s-worth of notes which have been included).
The first stimulus I use is a live performance, by the teacher, of a monologue by the character Pogo in ‘Pond Life’. This performance focuses on the character of Pogo, who suffers from a mental illness, and introduces the students immediately to the theme they are going to explore. This stimulus is easily interchangeable for another if the teacher is not comfortable with performing, although I have always found the students extremely receptive to this.
The second stimulus is a piece of music: ‘Hide and Seek’ by Imogen Heap. The piece of music varies throughout and my students often make very clear links to its schizophrenic feel and structure. The final stimuli the students explore for this exam are pictures of girls with eating disorders; I often find that students are unaware that this is classed as a mental disorder and they are fascinated by this fact.
During the programme students will use a variety of explorative strategies, drama mediums and elements of drama (some of which they choose for themselves – linking well with independent learning). It is worth reminding them at the beginning that this is not about performance but about exploration.
- Understand the dramatic potential of the theme of mental disorders
- Use strategies, elements and mediums in a creative way to explore ideas and stimuli
- Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with others in a mature and focused manner
- Discuss ideas within their group which show their creative and imaginative facility
- Evaluate the workshop throughout using technical terminology with confidence.