Distinguished Achievement Program

Theatre Example

Emily Jones has participated in theatre since elementary school and is very interested in character development. With her teacher of record, Mr. Adams, and a local community theatre director, she has decided to perform an in-depth study of Laura Wingfield from Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie. Emily’s study will culminate in a formal performance for which she will prepare excerpts with journal notes that substantiate her artistic decisions. A presentation on the project’s development will accompany the performance.

Emily, Mr. Adams, and her mentor have developed the following research components:

  • The study of the play, including its historical setting and stylistic and theatrical conventions
  • The study of various acting techniques through review of articles and interviews with acting teachers or coaches. Emily may also review professional actors’ interpretations of Laura Wingfield.
  • Planning of sets and costumes with research into the styles and interpretations of past performances, if available.
  • The study of lighting and sound design to best convey the actor’s intent.

With the help of Mr. Adams and her mentor, Emily develops a project proposal and timeline, researches the play and role, and forms clear ideas on the interpretation of the character. She also develops, in conjunction with the teacher-of-record and mentor, the criteria for assessing the quality of the final performance and presentation. Emily writes the initial project proposal within the first four weeks of school and includes a brief biographical sketch of her mentor. The teacher, mentor, and Emily meet regularly to discuss issues that arise and to assess Emily’s progress. Emily keeps a journal to trace the development of Laura Wingfield. Journal notes also include discussion of:

  • Williams’s intent
  • Historical setting
  • Stylistic conventions
  • Theatrical conventions
  • Professional interpretations
  • Emily’s interpretations.

The project culminates in the formal performance of prepared excerpts from The Glass Menagerie. Emily invites a panel of experts to attend and to evaluate the performance. The panel is familiar with the assessment criteria and refers to these criteria during their evaluation process. Mr. Adams, the mentor, and panel take notes on the performance, the presentation of ideas, and the written program notes that articulate the theoretical basis of the student’s artistic decisions.

Following the performance and a question/response period, Emily discusses the project with the panel, mentor, and teachers. She answers specific questions regarding the her future plans, the Distinguished Achievement Program, and the performance. She addresses her analysis, preparation, and interpretation of the character. Afterwards, there is a reception to celebrate Emily’s achievement and to give everyone an opportunity to continue the conversation informally. Finally, Mr. Adams awards the grade.