Top 8 transferable skills developed through drama
BY: Sue Clarke: Subject Expert - Drama
07 October 2021
We would all agree that drama can teach much more than just how to remember lines. It allows for personal development, not only by absorbing knowledge and facts about the text, but through immersion in a narrative and the experience of playing out a scenario. In addition to an uplift in social and emotional understanding, taking part in drama activities helps to build essential skills for success in wider studies, future pursuits and life in general.
8 transferable skills developed by drama
Drama promotes the development of relevant transferable skills, useful in other areas of a student’s academic life and beyond. We’ve selected eight of those transferable skills that can be developed through drama activities.
- Teamwork and leadership
- Listening and responding
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Time management
Practical performance-based drama is all about communicating with an audience through stories, ideas and characters. By performing a text, students learn not only to remember and recite their lines, but also to interpret what a character says and the way in which those words might be spoken in order to convey layers of meaning. There will, therefore, be a focus on developing vocal communication skills such as pace, pitch and tone in conveying meaning and emotion. Similarly, students will consider a character's physicality – their non-verbal communication, the way a character moves, their gestures and facial expressions.
Furthermore, group work in drama - by its very nature - requires students to express and articulate their ideas, ask questions and respond to the ideas of others.
Practical drama can also provide the context for students to improve their written communication skills, whether that is in creating their own dialogue, scripts or a written creative response to the practical work undertaken.
View drama improvisation exercises ideal for developing communication skills in this free drama games resource.
Collaborating with others to rehearse and perform short scenes in the classroom or drama studio will enable a student to develop their confidence and improve their self-esteem in a safe and fun environment. Building trust in their own abilities to stand up and talk in front of others will inevitably have a positive impact on other areas of a student’s life; from participating more in class, to actively taking on additional responsibilities.
Find drama text activities, perfect for building confidence in students, in Trinity’s drama games resource.
Teamwork and leadership
Practical drama is, in its very essence, a collaborative activity. Working with others can lead to greater tolerance, empathy and inclusion. Students are more able to work independently of the teacher when in groups, where they can learn from and support each other while working towards a shared goal. Leadership skills can be developed as students take responsibility for different aspects of the shared work.
We’ve collated some games aimed at encouraging team building in our drama games resource
Listening and responding
Group work invariably requires good listening skills to ensure that all the participants are heard and feel valued and included. Listening without judgement, asking questions for clarification and being able to articulate one’s own ideas in response to drama tasks will support the development of practical work. Improvisation work can be a useful tool to developing these skills as participants must listen carefully to others, enter the world of the drama and respond appropriately.
Within the structure of a drama or English class, games can be used to focus students’ attention. Download the best drama games as suggested by drama teachers in our online resource.
By developing their own narratives and characters in response to their understanding of a text, students have the opportunity to invent something original. Imagination can bring the world into the classroom and allow students to explore and engage with that world and the characters in it, while simultaneously learning about the world in relation to themselves.
Discover games that encourage students to get inventive and deeply consider characters, dilemmas and emotions from a stimulus in Trinity’s drama games resource.
Critical thinking and problem-solving
Reflecting on their own practical work, and watching and evaluating the work of others allows a student to develop greater critical awareness. This process can support the ability to both give and receive constructive feedback in a receptive way. In approaching any text, there will be problems to overcome, whether that’s connected with interpretation of the text or characters, or a question of staging. Good problem-solving skills will be essential if the goal is to be achieved.
An excellent way to develop acting and performance skills, and hone students’ critical thinking is with drama activities.
All performance work will have a deadline, whether that’s an opening night in the West End or show-back of the scene being rehearsed before the lesson ends. In practical drama work, students learn to work towards that deadline through managing their time effectively.
Browse the range of drama games on the online drama games resource for inspiration on incorporating performance activities into your classroom.
When approaching a text, it is important to have a wider knowledge of the social, political and historical context in which the narrative is set in order to fully understand the characters being performed. Practical drama requires the student to carry out research to bring truth and credibility to a performance. Activities such as hot-seating can be an excellent way to explore that research in an active way.
Here’s our collection of drama exercises to further develop understanding and interpretation of a text, including character and dramatic tension.
We hope you have found our take on the top transferable skills developed by studying drama interesting. If you're a principal or teacher at a performing arts academy, you might like to take a look at our guide to keeping students motivated and engaged with their studies.
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