Performance contexts: Matthew Bourne and Athol Fugard – Rhinegold Publishing

Performance contexts: Matthew Bourne and Athol Fugard


This unit is assessed by a two-hour written paper. There are three sections, one for each art form, dance, drama and music. Each section has three practitioners and there is a choice of two questions for each practitioner.

The current choice of practitioners is:

  • Matthew Bourne
  • Shobana Jeyasingh
  • Lloyd Newson


  • Caryl Churchill
  • Athol Fugard
  • John Godber


  • John Adams
  • The Beatles
  • George Gershwin

Depending on staffing, the centre could offer all three art forms so students will have more choice when they approach the exam. If three art forms are studied, this will help inform future practical work and prepare students for the A2 unit Performance Contexts 2.

The A2 unit asks students to look at one of four topics:

  • Post-modern approaches to the performing arts since 1960
  • Politics and performance since 1914
  • The 20th-century American musical
  • Approaches to performance in the Far East

Nine practitioners and nine extracts whichever topic you choose to deliver, the three art forms of dance, drama and music need to be addressed. You need to study nine extracts
(three for each art form) and these can be from up to nine practitioners, three for each art form. The written paper asks the candidates to write only one essay in response to a question on their chosen topic. There is a choice of questions for each topic. 

Having looked briefly at the link between the AS and A2 written papers, it can be seen that it is an advantage to study the three art forms for Performance Contexts 1. 

Performance Contexts 1 is worth 30% of the AS and 15% of the A Level. The assessment looks at Assessment Objective 1 (AO1) and Assessment Objective 3 (AO3). AO1, ‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding’, is concerned with showing knowledge and understanding of the art forms studied, the links between the art forms, the processes involved and the performances of the repertoire. AO3, ‘The ability to use clear and accurate English’, requires the candidate to demonstrate fluent and authoritative writing skills with a consistent sense of style and a secure command of specialist vocabulary.’

The exam lasts two hours and candidates must answer two questions, one on each practitioner. The works chosen must be able to demonstrate broad trends in the output of the practitioner. The recommended number of Guided Learning Hours for the unit is 54.
This is likely to cover between 10 and 12 weeks of teaching in most centres. The following scheme is based on four lessons a week, each 70 minutes long. The content of the unit should be covered in 10 weeks leaving two weeks for mock written exams and subsequent feedback lessons. 

Some consideration should be given to potential repertoire extracts for the A2 unit entitled G404 Performance Project. The specification states that the repertoire to be performed should have been studied for either Performance Contexts 1 or 2. The performance realisation of the extract can be in a single art form or a combination of art forms. The extract must be performed from memory. The performance can be performed by an individual or in a group of up to six candidates.

Each candidate should have three minutes exposure so in a group of six, the maximum duration of the piece should be no more than 18 minutes. It could be less if candidates are involved in performing at the same time. The approach to the delivery of the unit should therefore be a mixture of practical and theory-based work and will need to be tailored to each class and each practitioner.

In this scheme of work, the practitioners chosen from the list of nine in
the specification are Matthew Bourne for dance and Athol Fugard for

    Number of Lessons: n/a

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