We’re about to get underway with the new IB DP Theatre course, with the latest cohort starting the new guide once classes commence in August, and first assessment in 2024.
Looking at the assessments within the course, at first glance everything seems the same, and for the most part, it is. At least, nothing has changed at the heart of the assessments and what the IB is asking students to consider. But the mechanics of “How?” and “How much?” are different. Sometimes slightly, sometimes considerably.
Let’s explore them a little. All the new assessments will have three criteria points, compared with the current four.
Production Proposal (SL 30% / HL 20%)
This was known as the “Director’s Notebook” in the previous course and is now the IA (Internal Assessment) for the course. The first change that is immediately apparent is the submission length requirement. The old Director’s Notebook was a hefty 20 pages long, with no word limit. The Production Proposal is now set at a maximum of 12 pages, or 4,000 words.
The three assessment criteria feel more intuitive, and should be easier for students to understand immediately.
Source: IB Theatre Guide FA 2024 p.39
The starting point has changed, with students immediately exploring the content of the play and a focus on TEAM (Tension/Emotion/Atmosphere/Meaning). The suggested structure gives clear guidance on what’s expected in terms of the assessment’s construction.
Research Presentation (RP) (SL 30% / HL 20%)
The RP remains at a robust 15 minutes, but the central part of the old RP was the “moment of theatre”. That has now changed, and the student undertakes a practical exploration of their chosen tradition, followed by experimentation with the convention to select performance material. The guide emphasises that this is not a performance per se, but an exploration. The three assessment criteria streamline the process, creating three distinct parts to the presentation.
Source: IB Theatre Guide FA 2024 p.48
And that leads us to perhaps the most significant change to this assessment: the choice a student now has to do the presentation either in one continuous take (15 minutes) or as three separate mini-presentations, each focusing on their particular criterion. This flexibility helps the individual student immensely, creating a more user-friendly option for them. I’m really looking forward to going through this with my next cohort!
Collaborative Project (SL 40% / HL 25%)
The CP is now an externally assessed task. It’s a sleeker 7-10 minutes performance and a 10-page portfolio. There’s greater clarity in the roles available to the students, and the structure is clearly laid out. As with all the Theatre assessments, there are now three criteria compared with the four in the previous course. The three criteria have a progression that should be easy for students to understand.
Solo Theatre Piece (HL only 35%)
There are no sweeping changes to the STP other than that the accompanying report is now a slightly shorter 2,500 words. As with the other assessments, the instructions in the guide have greater clarity and mirror changes that have been made over the past several years and distributed to teachers via the Examiner Reports.
Within IB Theatre communities, I have read/heard some teachers express concerns that shorter assessments both water down the assessments, and make it more difficult for students to express themselves successfully. But the allotments allowed in the new course are more than sufficient, and the ability to communicate succinctly is important, too. These changes also make the course more accessible to a broader range of learners. The previous course had one of the heftiest assessment loads in IB.
It’s definitely with excitement that I look forward to the commencement of my next IB learners, and the beginning of this new course!