The HSC Drama Group Performance is undeniably stressful!

The whole idea that somebody else could drag down your results or ATAR is alarming and terrifying. In this article, I will cover how to choose your group, how to work with your group, what Band 6 Groups have included in their pieces in the past, and what you can do on performance days to achieve your best.

Four Important Facts about the GP:

  • It accounts for 30% of your external mark. The remaining 70% belongs to Individual Project (30%) and the final theory exam (40%).
  • The Group Performance is a group devised piece using one given phrase provided by BOSTES as inspiration.
  • At final examinations, the Group Performances (GP’s) are performed BEFORE the Individual Projects (IP’s).
  • You will be given some class time to work on it, but you will mostly have to rehearse outside of school time. This may include weekends and holidays.


How do I Choose my Group?

Groups vary in size from 3-6 people. I would recommend weighing up the table below to help you make your decision regarding what group size works best for you! It is easier to achieve those 90+ marks when you are in a small group with familiar dramatists. This is because you probably will have similar goals and work ethics. Try to be in a group with these people! Their level of commitment to the group will impact your HSC Results.




Small Groups

  • Lots of time in the ‘spotlight’
  • Lots of lines of dialogue
  • You will be less likely to clash ideas with your group members
  • Easy to coordinate rehearsal times
  • You may not be able to use some elements of drama
  • You may not be able to make physical formations

Large Groups

  • There will be more ideas to choose from
  • You can create interesting visual formations
  • There will be more energy in the piece
  • Your ideas can be easily lost or ignored
  • You could have few lines causing small exposure to the markers
  • Difficult to organise rehearsal times


How do I look at the Marking Guidelines?

First things first! You must have a look at the rubric and marking guidelines for the Group Performance. Confused?

Have a look through them, and make sure you understand them back to front!!! It is paramount that you get a good grip on these before you begin. As you know, drama practical tasks are unlike any other subject and getting full marks isn’t as straight forward as in a maths exam, for example. This is why having a great understanding of what you will be marked on can help you get the best marks possible! Yay!

Below, I have broken down the marking criteria to make it easy to understand!

1. Performance Skills (10/30)

This criterion is specific to you. The markers are essentially looking for the following skills in you as you are performing:

  • Good control in your character delivery, appropriate responses to your cues and good awareness of the rhythm of the piece.
  • Good control of moment, appropriate energy for the piece and excellent special awareness
  • Good vocal: projection, clarity, tone, pitch, and pace

2. Your Ability to Create and Sustain a Character (10/30)

This involves you:

  • Portraying a character that is believable
  • Acting with conviction and energy
  • Applying complexity and depth to your role
  • Interacting strongly with the other characters
  • Maintaining great focus

3. Looks at the Piece holistically (10/30)

This mark will be the same for every member of the group and will be marking the structure and coherence of the performance. The markers looks for:

  • Effective use of dramatic elements and performance conventions
  • Good ensemble/teamwork
  • An established theme with a clear objective
  • Flair! Be creative, think innovatively and make something you’ve never seen before! Individuality goes a long way.
  • Effective use of the space in the context of the performance style.

How do I work with my Group Effectively?

Below I have listed some handy tips from some of the world’s best universities, and from my own experiences working in a GP, to get you through the process unscathed and proud of the outcome!

  1. A little less conversation and a little more action!! Don’t let the conversation drift away from GP and make every minute of your rehearsals count. If you are productive in your allocated time, it will save you from rehearsing on weekends later!
  2. Be nice and fair! You have to work with these people for a long time. You need each other’s support. Staying positive shortens the process, and by avoiding personal criticism you’ll create an amazing working environment.
  3. Make your rehearsals consistent. Work for an hour or two a week. Don’t try cramming all of the devising into the day before the trials! You will all just be too stressed.
  4. Take turns in the group. Don’t always be a listener. Don’t always be a leader. Always feel free to share, but you don’t always have to lead the conversation either.
  5. Don’t let someone slack off! This is your HSC too, remember! Ask them what they think of a certain idea! Consider if they are being lazy, or if maybe they are too shy to speak up.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher! Ask them to look at your GP and give you notes or feedback! The same goes for the other drama kids in your year. They are doing the exact same thing. An outside perspective can be refreshing and also help you to identify points in your piece that aren’t clear or clean.
  7. Don’t worry too much about the costumes, lights, props, or sets, as they aren’t really the focus of the piece. YOU ARE! Just make sure you focus on what you are doing as an actor and what your piece means.
  8. Do Not forget your log book! Make sure that you keep it up to date, and consistent with your group members, as it will be marked in the trials.

What do Markers look for in a Band 6 GP?

Every GP is different, and all of them will be fairly marked. There is no right or wrong way to go about making a GP, but there are some certain things that have been proven to appear annually at Onstage – meaning that the performance received either 29 or 30/30.

Markers like:

  • A story based on or inspired by a relevant issue – e.g. 2016 US Presidential Election, Refugee Crisis, Pollution, Reliance on the Media, Reliance on Technology, Same-sex marriage rights, and so on.
  • A plot with a clear introduction, inciting incident, rising action, climax, and resolution. The structure can be cyclical or include temporal shifts for added depth.
  • Every dramatist to be on the stage. You don’t always have to be talking, or even have to be your role. You could create a set, prop or shape using your body. Be creative!
  • Be physical! And use the whole stage!
  • If you are using a prop, don’t just use it once. Try and utilize it throughout the piece, and think of innovative ways to use it!
  • A clean piece. Do not keep on devising for the sake of devising. Make sure that every move, line, and look in your piece is perfectly timed.

Here are two examples of Onstage Nominated Group Performances. There are plenty more to be found on YouTube.


Useful Resources:

HSC Drama Syllabus (GP information can be found on page 24)

HSC Drama Marking Guidelines (GP information can be found on pages 3-5)


What can I do on an Exam Day?

  • A warm-up is a great way to get your group energized and physically ready for the performance. It doubly can help to focus all the members of the team. Some good warm ups are:
    • Vocal Exercises
    • Walking like your character
    • Practicing the first minute of your scene
  • After you finish your warm-up as a group, you should spend some time by yourself to think through your lines and blocking (movement) and do some deep breathing to keep calm
  • Do not make any changes to the piece on the day of an assessment or exam. This will end horribly. Somebody could forget or the change could not be executed as well as the original idea.

Ultimately, the GP is a stressful component of the HSC Drama Course but it is undeniably the most useful for life after school. Whilst there is the underlying stress involved in the process, it is so easily eclipsed at the end by the overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pride at what your team has created. Knowing how to work well in a group is a tool that you will use for life. Getting through this process will equip you with a set of skills that are important for the future.

Best of Luck!

Lucinda Smith-Stevens graduated from Pymble Ladies’ College in 2016. She is an intern at Art of Smart. She hopes to study a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney in 2017, focusing on Media and Communications subjects. Lucy loves drama and public speaking, having completed a CVCA diploma in Speech and Drama. Lucy is also passionate about helping other students through the HSC in humanities subjects, General Mathematics 2 and essay writing skills.