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FAQs - Acting and Speaking

Please find answers to some frequently asked questions about the Acting and Speaking syllabus below:

 

Grade: 1

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Can monologues be used where it now states 'prose or play extract'?

Answer:

This is fine for Speech & Drama exams up to Grade 5, but note that if teachers do elect to use these pieces, candidates should be prepared to give reasons for their choices and have imaginatively considered possible context and dramatic development inherent in the piece.

Grade: All

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Please give me some sample topics for the prepared mime.

Answer:

Please see 'Mime' document for guidance.

Grade: 1 and 2

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Can the mime contain sound effects?

Answer:

The mime should be completely silent and rely on the intensity of the performer's imagination and concentration.

Grade: 2-5

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Can monologues be used where it now states 'prose or play extract'?

Answer:

This is fine for Speech & Drama exams up to Grade 5, but note that if teachers do elect to use these pieces, candidates should be prepared to give reasons for their choices and have imaginatively considered possible context and dramatic development inherent in the piece.

Grade: 4, 5 and 6

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Is the candidate given any time to prepare for the sight reading?

Answer:

Candidates are usually given approximatley 30 seconds or so to look through the sight reading immediatley prior to being asked to read.

Grade: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Can the candidate select which of the pieces they would prefer to improvise around?

Answer:

No- this is the examiner's choice.

Grade: 3, 4 and 5

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Is the subject for improvisation given 'during' the exam?

Answer:

Yes- immediately before the task begins. Candidates are then allowed a few moments to gather their thoughts before starting.

Grade: 6

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

A Passage of Narrative Prose' - Can this include dialogue?

Answer:

Yes.

Grade: 6

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Task 1 - For the "Play written after 1950" : Would it be acceptable to use a classic play written before 1950 but translated after 1950?

Answer:

Only where a writer has substantially adapted an orginal work to give it a contemporary relevance or setting. Please forward the extract to Drama Dept for approval. IN most cases a 2010 translation of -say - Aeschylus' Agamemnon would be considered an ancient Greek play, not a comtemporary play.

Grade: 7

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Task 5 - What sort of questions is the examiner likely to ask regarding articulation and resonance?

Answer:

The candidate should have an understanding of the main resonators of the body and be able to discuss strategies for developing an open, resonate voice. For articulation they should be aware of the principal types of consonants and vowel sounds - though it is more important to know WHAT they are doing (ie: I lower my tongue to create this sound) rather than to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of technical terms at this level. For instance - if a candidate is using an accent that is not their own for one piece they should be able to describe the processes they are using to create the sounds of the accent.

Grade: 7

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Can pieces be shorter than 3 minutes?

Answer:

Yes, so long as it is of sufficient depth & complexity to satisfy the requirements of the syllabus and the overall timings for the entire performance programme is observed.

Grade: 8

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Could you confirm the definition of 'contemporary' writer- from what date e.g.1970

Answer:

We define it as 'written by a living author or an author who has died in the last 5 years, and normally set in contemporary society'. If in doubt about a specific play please forward to Drama Dept for approval.

Grade: All

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

When performing a passage of prose from memory, can an extract from an autobiography be used?

Answer:

Yes, as long as this shows sufficient differentiation from the previous pieces.

Grade: All

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

 Is it acceptable for a student to perform the same poem as a previous student a few years ago?

Answer:

Yes, it is fine for a piece to be used by more than one student provided that it still conforms to the requirements in the syllabus.

Grade: 8

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Could you clarify what is meant by 'Reportage' and 'Polemic'?

 

Answer:

Reportage is a contemporary eye-witness account of an event in a journalistic style.  There are anthologies of Reportage available for example The Faber Book of Reportage edited by John Carey. Polemic is a speech that adopts a controversial viewpoint and challenges what may be a commonly held religious, political or philosophical beliefs - often deliberately intended to provoke an outraged response from the reader.  Michael Moore is a well-known current polemicist, as is Christopher Hitchins.

 

Grade: 8

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

The syllabus requires the thematically linked programme to include at least four pieces, will the five minute speech be one of these pieces?

Answer:

Candidates must perform a minimum of four contrasting pieces PLUS the five minute talk.

Grade: 8

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Are you able to give some advice as to how we can link the pieces?

Answer:

The intention of the "links" is to make task 1 a single, sustained performance with no gaps and with the candidate engaging with the audience throughout. Aim to use the links to introduce and - if you want - to comment on the contrasting performance pieces.

Grade: All

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

What is narrative prose or poetry?

Answer:

Please No.9 in the guidance notes for Acting and Speaking.

Grade: 8

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

What is meant by thematically linked?

Answer:

The candidate should give a continuous linked programme of work. This can be through theme, movement, using props/ costume elements, referring to a map of the world – or the London Underground -  anything you like. as long as the audience is led coherently from one piece to the other and the overall performance has a sense of unity and structure.

Grade: 6

Acting in Pairs

Question:

Can the candidates give extracts from different plays if they offer more than one or do they have to come from the same play?

Answer:

It is fine to give extracts from different plays, the only stipulation is that they are written in verse or a non-colloquial style.

Grade: 7 and 8

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Would a sonnet be too short for a lyric poem?

Answer:

A sonnet can be used as long as it is of sufficient depth and complexity to satisfy the requirements of the syllabus.

Grade: 6

Speech & Drama Solo

Question:

Can a candidate use a piece of their own creative writing for the prose selection?

Answer:

For Speech & Drama solo examinations candidate’s own work cannot be used at this level. They may perform their own work at Grades 7 and 8. The Performance Arts Syllabus gives candidates further opportunities to write and perform their own work at all levels.

Grade: 1, 2 and 3

Individual Acting Skills

Question:

Can the mime contain sound effects?

Answer:

The mime should be completely silent and rely on the intensity of the performer's imagination and concentration.

Grade: 1, 2 and 3

Individual Acting Skills

Question:

Please give me some sample topics for the prepared mime.

Answer:

Please see Mime document for guidance.

Grade: 7

Individual Acting Skills

Question:

The syllabus states that one of the performed pieces must come from a country or culture other than the candidates own.

Does this piece need to be performed with the accent from the country of the chosen piece or is it enough that the piece is written by

Answer:

The intention of this task is that students are encoured to explore repertore from beyond their national boundaries.  Therefore, their performance may involve some kind of accent, the focus is on using a vernacular that is not your own rather than putting on an accent.  As an example a British candidate might choose to do some Tennessee Williams or David Mamet where the language used is very different to British English.

Grade: 2, 3, 4 and 5

Acting in Pairs

Question:

 Please clarify what is required for Task 2: 'a scene developed through improvisation'

Answer:

A scene developed through improvisation should be prepared over a period of time and have clear characters/ situation/ structure. It need not be fully scripted or learned word for word but the characters should be familiar with the stages through which the scene moves. Excessive use of narrators should be avoided.

Grade: 4 and 6

Acting in Pairs

Question:

Please clarify what is meant by 'Colloquial' and 'Non-Colloquial'?

Answer:

A 'play written in a colloquial style' will typically be written in an informal, conversational style and employ a recognisable contemporary idiom. A 'play written in a non-colloquial style' will typically be written in some form of heightened or stylised language which is not normally encountered in contemporary speech vocabulary.

Grade: All

Acting in Pairs

Question:

Can candidates from different pairs switch partners in between tasks?

Answer:

No, pairs need to stay together through the whole exam.

Grade: All

Acting in Pairs

Question:

 Is it possible for one student to perform in two separate pairs?

Answer:

Yes, but the student would have to be entered for the exam twice and be examined separately in both pairs.

Grade: 5

Acting in Pairs

Question:

What is meant by "Characters of different status"?

Answer:

The contrasting status of characters can be defined in many ways - age, power, wealth, beauty, physical strength, intelligence and so. And of course status - and relative status - can change in a split second within a scene - Eg: Cinderella when the slipper fits on her foot. We hope G5 candidates will reflect upon and be stimulated by this key condept as they explore and prepare pieces for performance.

Grade: 6 and 7

Acting in Pairs

Question: If candidates present more than one extract from a play can they perform differenct characters in differnt scenes?

Answer:

Yes, but keep in mind that advanced level performers, as stated in the assessment criteria, need to 'adopt and sustain a role' in order to convey complexity of meaning - so don't overdo playing multiple roles

Grade: All

Group Drama - Devised

Question:

Can other groups be present when one group performing?

Answer:

This is sometimes possible as long as the presence of the "audience" does not interrupt the running of the exam session. Prior permission must be sought from Trinity for this.

Grade: All

Group Drama - Scripts & Devised

Question:

If we have an audience in a group examination can a teacher work the sound equipment?

Answer:

In this instance that is allowed, however teachers should have no contact with the candidates ie. no directing from the wings.

Grade: All

Group Drama - Scripts

Question:

Can other groups be present when performing?

Answer:

Only one group may perform at a time and they must introduce their own performance.

Grade: All

 Group Drama - Scripts & Devised

Question:

Can we have an audience in a group examination?

Answer:

Yes audiences are allowed for examinations with no discussion section, however they should not disrupt the flow of the examination session.  Therefore, they should only be allowed to enter and leave during break times.  Examiners must have ample space to write their reports without members of the audience looking over their shoulder. Please notify your local representative in advance if you wish to have an audience present.

Grade: All

All

Question:

How much gesture may students use when reciting verse?

Answer:

Candidates can use as much or as little gesture as they feel is comforable and appropriate for the piece they are reciting. Be aware however that excessive use of gesture may detract from the verse being spoken and may inhibit effective communication with the audience.

Grade: All

All

Question:

Could you give me some advice on the improvisation section?

Answer:

Please see the Improvisation document for guidance.

Grade: All

All

Question:

Could you give me some suggestions for early drama pieces?

Answer:

Please see guidance document: Suggestions for Elizabethan, Jacobean and early drama.

Grade: All

Shakespeare (Solo)

Question:

 Which plays are referred to when a candidate is asked for a speech from one of Shakespeare's 'last' plays?

Answer:

Pericles', 'The Winter's Tale', 'The Tempest', 'Cymbeline', 'Henry VIII'.

Grade: 3

Shakespeare (solo)

Question:

What would be an appropriate speech for a 12 year old? Does it have to be in the original blank verse?

Answer:

There are many suitable speeches for 12 year olds in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - you might look at the speeches of Helena, Puck or the fairy in Act 2 Scene 1. The witch's spell in Macbeth (Act 4 Scene 3) is also often a popular choice. The speech needs to be in Shakespeare’s original language - either prose or verse - but not a modern adaptation.

Grade: 6

Shakespeare (Solo)

Question:

Task 4 - what sort of questions might be asked when refering to ‘the range of opportunities Shakespeare’s use of blank verse and other verse forms offers the performer’?

Answer:

John Barton’s BBC series “Playing Shakespeare” is an invaluable introduction to the opportunities Shakespeare’s verse offers a performer – it was made in the 1980s and its production values look a bit dated now but it has a brilliant group of actors and the content is very sound. Search for “John Barton Playing Shakespeare” on Youtube and it’s all there – and lots of links to other related material.Patsy Rodenburg’s “Speaking Shakespeare” takes some of these ideas further.

Grade: 8

Shakespeare Solo

Question:

Could you please give examples of the type of thing that the examiner will ask the candidate to do when they work on the Shakespearean piece  that the examiner provides?

Answer:

The examiner will have a conversation about the text with the student.  The text will be gender specific and candidates are not expected to know context of the extract or the play.   They will be asked some questions looking at the speech as a dramatic text with clear hints for the actor about what’s going on in the story e.g. what conclusions can you reach about the context? How is Shakespeare using the language to convey character and meaning? What clues are there in the text about how an actor should play these lines?

Grade: All

General

Question:

Can a male candidate perform a speech written for a female character and vice versa?

Answer:

A male candidate can use a female speech and vice versa, as long as this is not performed as a caricature. See Acting and Speaking syllabus page 16 guidance point 16.

Grade: All

General

Question:

Can students take Acting & Speaking exams if English is not their first language?

Answer:

Yes. Our examiners travel all over the world so it is understood that for many candidates English will not be a first language. The candidates should be aware that their pronunciation will need to be clear enough for the meaning of the text to be conveyed effectively.There is no requirement for pronunciation to conform linguistically to standard English or "Received Pronunciation". Please see page 10 of the syllabus "A a note on language".

Grade: All

General

Question:

What is the difference between "Lyric" and "Narrative" poetry/prose?

Answer:

Please see Guidance in A&S syllabus page 16 paragraph 9.

Grade: All

General

Question: Is swearing allowed if it is part of a monologue?

Answer:

Yes, it should be in keeping with the context of the play and should not distract from the dramatic sense of the piece.

Grade: Advanced

Performance Certificate

Question:

Does the 25-30 minute program need to all be original work, or can the students use published monologues, poems, prose pieces, etc with linking commentary or adapt existing texts or works?

Answer:

It can be a combination of original work and other published repertoire – the wider the range the better.

Grade: Advanced

Performance Certificate

Question:

How many performance skills are candidates required to demonstrate in the Performance Certificate?

Answer:

The certificate is designed to allow candidates to explore as wide a range of performance skills as possible – they wouldn’t be 'marked down' for not displaying multiple skills, but within the range of their own repertoire they should aim to demonstrate as wide a range as they can – in period, style, genre etc.  The structure of the certificate allows candidates to mix and match repertoire in imaginative ways such as magic tricks, stand up comedy, a series of limericks and impersonations interspersed with poetry, classical drama, prose.

Grade: Advanced

Performance Certificate

Question:

The syllabus states that another student 'must' be involved in at least one item in the programme. Could this be, for example,  another performer dancing on film whilst accompanied by the entrant performing a poem or does the other performer actually need

Answer:

Live interaction is preferable, however a mixed-media presentation is still acceptable. The parameters of the performance are virtually unlimited.

Grade: All

Plays in Production

Question:

Does the production need to have been performed prior to the examiner visit?

Answer:

Not necessarily. Ideally the examiner should attend a public performance which may be part of longer run.

Grade: All

Plays in Production

Question:

Are all candidates assessed individually during the exam and do they all need to display all skills required for a play?

Answer:

Not every member of the group will display all the skills – one person will be acting in it, another will be the follow spot operator, another is the stage manager – what is  important is that they all make a contribution to the overall production. Each candidate receives a certificate.

 

 

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