Have you ever found yourself wanting to explore your creative side and push yourself artistically? If so, taking DP Theater might an interesting option for you.

The DP is known for being a rigorous academic program, challenging students and helping them explore material in science, humanities, languages, and finally, the arts. Luckily, one of the artistic choices includes theater.

The theater course is open to all 11th and 12th grade students who wish to take it along with the rest of their DP classes. It welcomes students who are interested in stepping into the spotlight, while also taking the opportunity to analyze plays, learn about world theater traditions, and even plan your own theater pieces.

But before jumping into this extensive subject, or simply shying away from it, there are several factors you must consider by using the following information and advice.

What is the Theater course like?

The International Baccalaureate describes the DP Theatre course as “a practical subject that encourages discovery through experimentation, the taking of risks and the presentation of ideas to others.”

The main topics students cover is theory, working with play texts, world theater traditions, and creating original theater. Some of the external and internal assessments include research presentations, a director’s notebook, and a solo theater performance (higher level only).

Students go on a path to understanding theater through different roles such as designers, directors, and performers. For example, the ‘director’s notebook’ assignment consists of taking a written play text and transforming into your own by staging it and constructing every detail, including lighting and set design, as well as the movement of the performance.

The course is also based on learning and applying theater theory, along with research, throughout the process of creation, and being able to work from various artistic perspectives.

A widely unknown fact is that the DP Theater course does not grade students based on their performance. While all the assignments mentioned above consist of a performance or presentation (excluding the director’s notebook), your final grade counts only from your reflection and analysis of your work. You must be able to provide reasoning for performing the way you did, discuss the impact and success of the performance, and connect your performance to the central unit idea (for example, world traditions).

Those who join the course are choosing to learn to extend their practical and research skills, as well as exploring a variety of theater genres.

Benefits of DP Theater

Theater is, and always has been, a collaboration effort. This completely applies to the DP course. Students are able to develop life skills such as communication, problem-solving, and negotiating between groups of people.

Certain skills learned in this course are also incorporated into other classes, such as learning to research, writing papers, and being clear and concise when writing for outside examiners.

Those who take DP Theater are also known to gather and harness talent and skill in both practical and written work. This helps students, especially those who haven’t found a specific passion yet, find a stronger and clearer path along the way; it makes them flexible.

Universities take notice in this. According to Kate Caster, MYP and DP Theater teacher at AISB,“Universities want well-rounded people. They want students to take arts. At my old school, significantly, the students that I had were accepted into their top choices. I think that speaks volumes.”

As a bonus, if you’re thinking about auditioning for a school play, being a DP Theater student might be your advantageous backstage pass.

Molly Niblock, an AISB senior and DP Theater student, recounts her experiences with the program. “Being a DP Theater student, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with the productions at school. I have always been really interested in theater and the arts, so when I saw that Theater was being offered, I knew it would be a great chance for me to expose myself to different varieties of theater and to challenge myself. Overall, it was a lot of fun.”

Is DP Theater right for you?

While taking this course is a wonderful opportunity to explore a more creative and practical side of the DP, don’t be fooled: it is not easy.

Students have to be able to balance both the practical and the written work, which means that while performance is one of the keys to success in class, you will need to use and grow into your analysis, planning, and reflecting skills.

You must be able to take responsibility and embrace both teamwork and independence. Since many of the DP projects involve the challenge of “What would you do?” and  “How would you direct this?”, students must be confident in using their creativity to form their own ideas and take a stance.

And yet, challenges aside, students and teachers of the course stand with welcoming open arms, as long as you’re willing to work hard.

“If you’re considering it, I would say definitely do it,” says Niblock. “You should know that the writing, planning, and analysis aspects are a big part of it, though as a whole it is manageable. It’s fun because even the written (essay) work is a very creative process.”

So, be honest with yourself, but as long as you’re excited to spend time finding out more about yourself and your community through this beautiful art form, the theater will be waiting for you.