Teaching Drama

Sharing What We’ve Learned: Developing a Class Showcase

Written by Kerry Hishon

A class showcase is a great way to share and celebrate what your class has learned in drama class. It gives your students the opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have acquired and put those skills into practice. It also gives your students the chance to take steps towards the role of producer, and mount a show on a smaller scale rather than a full-on production. Putting on a class showcase involves a collaborative style, with students contributing ideas and acts to perform in a variety-show style of production.

A good length for a class showcase is 1 hour or less. This provides each student with enough time to share something, without the event lasting too long.

Here are a few things to think about during your planning stages:

1. Determine the purpose of the showcase.

Is this a final project for the class? Is participation mandatory or voluntary? Will the performances be graded or will marks be given simply for participating? Will the showcase act as a fundraiser for the drama department, school, or a particular charity? Identify the purpose, so that everyone is on the same page.

2. Decide who will participate in the showcase.

Will this be a single class project, or will all the different drama classes participate? Will you allow non-drama students to participate?

  • From this, will all the students participate onstage, or will students participate in backstage capacities? At the very least, you will need: a stage manager to run the showcase, sound and lighting operators, and a front of house team. Will those students also be required to perform?
  • How much involvement will you, the teacher, have? Will you coordinate the showcase or will only students coordinate the production? Will you or students assign and/or direct the acts?
  • How will you introduce the acts? Will you have an MC to present each act, or will you create a written program describing the action (or both)? Will you or your students complete these tasks?
3. What will your students present at the showcase?
  • Will students present a selection of pieces in small groups, like a variety show, or will the class create a full-group production? Will there be a theme to the showcase? Who will decide the theme?
  • Will your showcase focus on all students presenting the same style of theatre (improv, mime, tableau, monologues, etc.)? Or will each small group present a different style?
4. When will you present the showcase?

Mid-semester? At the end of the semester? Year-end? Will you hold it during class time? At a school assembly? At night? On a weekend? Further to that, who will attend the showcase? Is this going to be a private performance during class, or will you sell tickets to the public?

5. How much time will be devoted to planning and rehearsing acts?

Will you give students class time to plan or rehearse, or will you expect them to do that on their own time?

Once you’ve created the outline for the showcase, it’s now time to figure out the logistics of the performance. How many students you have will determine what you are able to present. With an hour-long program, if you have 30 students, each student would get two minutes or less to perform an individual piece (which includes transitions, so it would be closer to one minute each). It’s generally easier to have students perform in small groups. Will you let your students choose their own groups, or will you assign them to their groups? If some students really want to perform on their own (say, a monologue), how will you incorporate that into the showcase?

These questions are meant to help you shape your showcase and get your students on the right track. Once groups are selected and topics are determined, it’s time to plan the show order and rehearse. Students will need to come up with a logical order for the acts, so they flow nicely and keep the pace of the show going. It’s especially important to time the acts, so you don’t run over time and so that there is variety between longer and shorter pieces. Be sure to include time for transitions–students need to have time to enter and exit, change sets/tech (if needed), and if you have an MC, they will need a moment to introduce each act.

So much of creating a showcase comes down to careful planning. This may seem like a lot of work, but the more students map out in advance, the easier the showcase will be when it comes to actually performing it!

Click here to download a free planning sheet (for individual students and groups) to help them plan the acts they will perform in the showcase.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer, and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.

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About the author

Kerry Hishon

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.