Taking creativity to a new level in the DP Theatre course

Taking creativity to a new level in the DP Theatre course

Choosing courses as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (DP) requires considerable thought and foresight. Research suggests that the DP is a strong pathway to university and is offered by over 3,000 schools across more than 150 countries. The aim of the DP, and the IB overall, is to develop students who can excel in many areas: physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically (Source:

When the students at ISD begin choosing their classes as part of their DP studies, they have over 50 courses to choose from. One of the many DP elective courses that sets ISD apart from other IBDP schools, is the DP theatre course.

ISD students can participate in theatre productions throughout the majority of their school career. Performances begin in our elementary school with a yearly production for students in  grades 3-5. Once at the SRS, students participate in theatre as part of the Middle Years Program (MYP), and can also choose theatre as an elective beginning in grade 6 for those who wish to be a part of a staged production and take their studies further.

The ISD DP theatre course challenges students to create a 15 minute theatre piece with a group of two to six people for their final assessment in the DP. What follows are accounts from three students who have been a part of the theatre program at ISD for many years and have chosen to be a part of the DP theatre course. Each student participated in one of three final theatre pieces. They have shared their experiences in creating a theatre piece and being a part of this complex and challenging course over the last two school years.

Erin Fitzpatrick

Erin has been involved in theatre at ISD since grade 4. When the DP theatre course began several years ago, Erin was thrilled, she knew this was a must-do class as part of her DP.

One of the things Erin appreciates most about the DP theatre course is the opportunity to be creative. Many DP classes require students to sit down, take notes and complete work on the computer. Erin enjoys having a class where she can be on her feet and express herself in different ways.

Inspired by a production of Love Song performed by Frantic Assembly, a contemporary and collaborative British theatre company, Erin and her group explored the concept of time: the pressure, the flexibility of it, and how quickly a person can be affected by it. In Love Song, Frantic Assembly portrayed a love story across time, taking the audience through a journey where you realise that every decision you make matters.

Erin and her group portrayed time through the exaggerated experiences of a 12th grade DP student. They were inspired to create a piece that was somewhat light-hearted and focused on the stress and challenges associated with classes and university application deadlines converging. The group challenged the audience not to take life (and time) so seriously: stress is normal, the key is to relax.

While working on the piece, Erin and her group learned that a theatre performance does not need to be constrained by location; actors and producers can create different atmospheres and moods by changing location. Erin found it to be a great way to complete her theatre career at ISD.

Giovanna Bortolozzo

Giovanna (Gio), has been lucky to have attended a school with theatre as an option throughout her school career. She was happy that the DP theatre option at ISD was in-depth and would allow her to learn more about theatre theory, production, set-making and more.

The DP theatre class has helped Gio to broaden her definition of what theatre is and can be. Prior to the class, she believed that theatre was simply sitting and watching people act on stage; now Gio understands and appreciates the many elements that go into a production.

As part of the class, Gio enjoyed learning about theatre traditions around the world and how different cultures interpret what theatre can be. This allowed her to better understand the options that are open to a performer – theatre can be limitless.

Gio and her group focused their theatre piece on abuse, both emotional and physical. Her group allowed the creative process to guide their way; they remained open to trying out different ways to express abuse and trauma, rather than choosing one from the start. Gio and her group were very proud of their final piece, particularly after receiving audience feedback. They realised that even when a message is complex, movement can help audiences understand both emotions and intention.

Maximilian am Brunnen (Maxi)

Maxi chose the DP theatre course because it has always been an interest of his, particularly the technical side of theatre. Maxi is a master at sound and lights. When choosing his DP courses, Maxi consulted Ms. Olson, the Theatre Department Head. She encouraged him to take the course with a focus on the technical side of theatre, a different perspective than most of his classmates.

Working with a group to create a collaborative piece was one of the attractive aspects of the course for Maxi. The collaborative process has allowed he and his classmates to understand what it takes to make a good team.

Maxi and his group staged a performance on trauma, using an interrogation room as the backdrop. They primarily focused on the murderer and his relationship to the victim and the crime. The group used sound, both music and speaking tone, as well as lighting to reflect the aggression and trauma caused by the murder. The aggression was unmistakable in their performance.

Maxi is glad to be a part of the DP theatre course. And, given his comfort at the sound and light board, he is happy that during his two years in the DP theatre course, he was only on stage once. After taking this course, Maxi better understands his past work in sound and lights; why things worked well or didn’t and what he can do in the future to continue learning and applying his skills in sound and lighting and beyond.

If you are interested in viewing the collaborative theatre piece the students created in grade 11, watch it here.