PRELIMINARY GRADE ONE
Speak from memory a Short Poem
Be able to answer simple questions about the poem, and the meaning of the words.
PRELIMINARY GRADE TWO
Speak from memory a Short Poem
Be able to answer simple questions about the poem, and the meaning of the words.
Speak from memory a Short Poem.
Be able to answer simple questions about the story/theme of the Poem, and the
meaning of the words.
Give a one-minute informal talk about yourself OR a toy/book that you have brought
to the examination (the talk should not be memorised)
The INFORMAL TALK about oneself should be conversational, and not just a list of
likes and dislikes. Speaking about family, school and leisure activities should sustain
the talk for the required time, but the examiner will prompt the candidate if
necessary if he/she gets stuck.
Speak from memory a short Poem.
Give a short (about one minute) presentation on the poem performed using an
illustration (drawing, painting, model or collage) made by you on the story,
characters and/or on the theme of the poem, and be prepared to discuss the poem
and illustration with the examiner.
Be able to list the Organs of Speech, point out their locations and be able to
identify them to make common sounds (i.e. M. P. B. K and L).
The examiner will expect the candidate to be able to list the ORGANS OF SPEECH,
describe accurately their locations and to know which ones are used to make
The ORGANS OF SPEECH are used in the formation of sounds and are:
the Hard Palate (the roof of the mouth)
the Soft Palate (if you touch the tip of your tongue to the Hard Palate, then
slide it as far back as it will go, you will touch the Soft Palate)
the Alveolar Ridge (behind the top front teeth).
Speak from memory a short Poem.
Announce and read a short (approximately 10-‐12 lines) prepared extract from a book
of your choice, and be able to carry on a short conversation about the book with the
a. Give a simple definition of a Vowel and a Consonant.
b. Be able to define a Pause, and to demonstrate your understanding of the
Breath Pause and the Sense Pause by explaining where and why you took
these pauses in either your poem or prose performance.
A VOWEL is a speech sound which has a free passage through the mouth, and is
shaped by the varying positions of the Tongue and Lips.
A. E. I. O. U. are the Five Vowel signs.
A CONSONANT is a sound in speech which is stopped or interrupted.
B. P. D. are examples of consonants. These do not have free passage through the
PAUSE: The examiner will expect the candidate to be able to show where, in either
her poem or prose, she took a breath pause and a sense pause, and to explain why.
A pause is a stop. We pause to take a Breath. And we pause to make Sense at
punctuation marks, for example commas and full stops, in order to make the
meaning clear and to add atmosphere to what we are saying.
Example of a Breath Pause in Poetry ‘The Furry Home’ by J Westrup
If I were a mouse
And wanted a house, (Breath pause).
Example of a Sense Pause in Poetry:
I think I would choose
my new Red shoes.’ (Sense pause, because the next line ‘Furry edges …’ goes
on to talk about the inside of the shoes.)
Example of a Breath and Sense Pause in prose (Extract from the Fable ‘The Mouse
and the Lion” (moral of the Fable – “One good turn deserves another’)
‘At first, the Mouse did not realise she had run on to a Lion. (Breath pause)
But, as she ran over his wet nose, (Sense Pause, because the next part is
about the lion rather than the mouse) the Lion woke up, lifted his paw and
clamped it down on her tail’.
Speak from memory a short Poem.
Announce and perform a one-‐minute Story Mime of your choice.
A|. Be able to define Mime and give a simple description of Character Mime,
Occupational Mime, Story Mime, Abstract Mime and Pantomime Blanche.
B. Be able to demonstrate and describe the appropriate Posture/Stance used
for Verse-‐speaking and to explain why adopting a good Posture is important.
MIME is presenting a story, character, activity or emotion, using movement, gesture
and facial expression, without using spoken words.
Character Mime: presenting a convincing character in mime, for example an old
woman or man.
Occupational Mime: presenting an activity or occupation, for example fixing a car,
performing surgery, bathing a dog.
Story Mime: telling a complete story through mime, for example a burglary, a
tightrope performance, being stood up, Red Riding Hood, the Stages of Life, and so
Recreational Mime: miming a recreational activity such as driving, playing the piano,
Abstract Mime: representing a feeling, emotion, force or other abstract thing (for
example a colour) through mime.
Pantomime Blanche: drawing an object in space and then using it, for example a hat
or a mirror.
The following will not be examined but are useful for the candidate to know both for
the preparation of the candidate’s performance and for general background.
Other types of mime are Traditional Mime (based on the traditions of the Commedia
dell’Arte), clowning, and pantomime.
A convincing mime performance requires research, practice, concentration and the
exercise of control over one’s movement, gestures and facial expression. Clarity and
simplicity are important.
When miming a character, the candidate must be aware of his/her age, social
position, body shape and movement characteristics.
ALWAYS announce the title of your mime. (The examiner will want to give her full
concentration to the performance of the mime and not be distracted by trying to
guess what it’s about.)
A story mime must have a plot and dramatic shape; in other words, a beginning,
middle and end. The plot must be clear and easy to follow. If your audience doesn’t
understand or can’t follow it, then your mime will not have been successful.
When manipulating objects, the candidate should remember that all objects occupy
space, have weight and, often, resistance. For example, if you are opening a door
towards you, remember the door may be locked (in which case you’ll have to turn a
key), that the handle (which may be stiff) has a shape, that the door may be heavy or
may offer resistance, and that you’ll have to represent the arc of the door opening
and probably stand back to give it space. When you bounce a ball, remember that it
takes time to reach the floor, more time to get back up to your hand and that when
you catch it, you’ll need to represent its size (is it a tennis ball or a basket ball?) and
weight. The more accurately you can represent these elements, the more convincing
your mime will be.
As with all dramatic activities, pace and pause are important. Take your time and
articulate your movements clearly. Pause between each section or scene of the
mime, and to add punctuation, dramatic tension and emphasis.
Remember that you do not have your voice to convey emotion and therefore your
audience must see the emotion in your body and, especially, on your face.
At the conclusion of the mime, freeze for a second or two, then turn your back to the
examiner for another couple of seconds. NEVER say ‘That’s it!’
POSTURE or Deportment for girls (Stance for Boys) is most important for any
performance, be it Verse Speaking, Drama or Public Speaking.
For Verse Speaking, the performer should stand with hands by his/her sides (thumb
and middle finger pressed together to avoid fidgeting if necesary), with his/her weight evenly
balanced on both feet which should be slightly apart, and head held high with
Good posture will help a performer to be visible, balanced, relaxed, and will facilitate
effective breathing and projection.
Speak, from memory, a Short Poem.
Announce and perform a Solo Dramatic selection using appropriate characterisation
and movement (maximum time permitted: Two minutes)
A. Be able to describe the character you performed.
B. Be able to follow Simple Stage Directions.
C. Be able to discuss with the examiner the meaning and practice of Good
In order to be able to describe the CHARACTER, the candidate will need to be
familiar with the story, book or play from which the character is taken, the position
of the character in the story and the relationship of the candidate’s character to
others. If the selection is a stand-alone piece, then the nature of the character, if not
immediately obvious from the text, should be discussed between teacher and
In all cases, the construction of a character chart, map or other description is very
worthwhile in providing a structure for understanding. This description should
include name, age, social position, family and other relationships, period, clothing,
movement style, any manners and so on.
It is often helpful to identify elements of the character that need to be conveyed to
the audience. For example Toad (from Wind in the Willows) is selfish, boastful and
adventurous. Anne (from Anne of Green Gables) is dramatic, loyal and warm-
hearted. Joan of Arc in George Bernard Shaw’s St Joan is heroically courageous and
deeply spiritual. Sometimes these characteristics are not immediately obvious from
the selection to be performed and therefore some background research is required.
GOOD DICTION is being able to speak clearly and naturally, pronouncing your vowel
sounds correctly and sounding your consonants crisply. This is important because it
helps us to communicate effectively and be understood more easily.
Some additional notes:
Speaking clearly: To speak clearly, one must open ones mouth.
Naturally: Do not put on a phoney accent
Good Diction: One must use Lips and Tongue and Final T’s to make a clear
crisp sound. There is no such thing as Natural Good Speech –
we must work on it.
The following is extra information and not required for the examination:
Vowels give roundness, firmness and carrying power to our voice.
Consonants make our speech crisp and give clarity to our sounds.
Labials are formed by the Lips: P, B, M, W, WH.
Labio-‐Dentals are formed by the contact of the Upper Teeth with the Lower Lip: F.V.
Lingua-‐Dentals are formed by the contact of the Tip of the Tongue with the Gums of
the Upper Teeth: T, D, TH, DH.
Lingua-‐Palatals are formed by the contact of the Tongue and the Hard or Soft Palate:
CH, J, K, G (Gun), R (smooth as in Are), L, S, Z, SH (as in Shy), N and NG (Nasal sounds
formed by the Soft Palate).
H and Y are called the Orals because they are neither fully Vowel nor Consonant.
Upstage Right Upstage Centre Upstage Left
Downstage Right Downstage Centre Downstage Left
Right of Centre Centre Stage Left of Centre
Exit Right Exit Left
Speak from memory a Short Poem by an Irish Poet.
Announce and perform a Solo Dramatic selection, using appropriate characterisation
and movement (maximum time permitted: Two Minutes)
Read at sight a Poem chosen by the Examiner.
A. Be able to discuss the meaning and mood of the poem with the examiner.
B. Be able to define and demonstrate Pitch and Vocal Projection.
C. Be able to discuss with the examiner the technique you used for your Sight
MEANING AND MOOD OF THE POEM:
The examiner will need to know that the
candidate understands what their poem is about and how that might be discerned
from the poet’s words. In studying the poem, it is useful to know something about
the poet, his/her life and other work, and any favourite themes or topics that he/she
tended to concentrate on. Often some very simple research will throw light on why
the poet wrote this particular poem at this particular time, or will provide some
background of the subject of the poem or the mood of the poet.
To take an example, WB Yeats’s ‘An Irish Airman Forsees His Death’, although
written in the first person, was actually written about Lady Gregory’s only child,
Major Robert Gregory, who was a pilot, and who was killed in the final year of the
First World War. Like many aviators at that time, when flying was a pioneering
activity and a lot more dangerous and risky than it is now, Major Gregory loved to
fly, and this love of flying transcended his desire to serve a political cause. Knowing
that the poem is about a real person known to Yeats makes the poem and its subject
more real and is useful in interpreting this poem for public performance. An further
dimension can be added by reading about early aviators and their motivation.
PITCH refers to where one’s voice falls on the musical scale. We all have a natural
pitch, the note of which depends principally on the length and thickness of our vocal
chords. (To find your middle pitch you can say a sustained ‘ahhh’ in your natural
conversational tone and try to find the corresponding note on a piano.)
Pitch tends to be categorised as middle, high and low.
Middle is used for general conversation, prose and verse speaking.
High to convey excitement, some anger, emotional stress, terror and so on.
And low for deep anger, sorrow, despair or conspiracy.
VOCAL PROJECTION refers to the technique involved in achieving audibility by
controlling particularly the volume and clarity of your voice. In simple terms, this
means the way you use your voice in order to be heard clearly from any part of the
theatre or auditorium in which you are speaking or acting. In a cinema, the film is
projected from the back of the auditorium and appears clear and bright on the
screen at the front. So it is with a properly projected voice.
Projection involves the use of both mental and physical processes. Mentally you
need to be aware of your audience – you are speaking to all of them. Direct your
speech particularly to the person furthest away from you. Mentally project your
voice UP and OUT. Physically, projection is achieved through a combination of
proper breathing, appropriate posture or stance and the use of forward tone –
where the voice is not constricted by your throat and is allowed to resonate in the
various cavities in your neck and head.
Projection is never achieved through shouting. Shouting distorts the voice and
narrows its range. Rather, projection is about ensuring that the words that you speak
can be heard clearly.
SIGHT READING IN GENERAL
Use the time given for preparation to glance over the text before starting. Try to take
in the overall mood and content. Pay particular attention to the opening and closing
paragraphs. Do you have to turn a page? Are there any difficult words or dialogue?
When you’re ready to start, adopt a balanced posture/stance. Hold the book page so
that it doesn’t hide your face. A little lower than your face and slightly to the side is
best, as it allows you to face the audience and still read the text with minimal head
Announce clearly the title of the Book and Author (try to do this directly to the
audience, without reading it). Start slowly, and let your eye run ahead of your voice.
Try to reflect the mood(s) of the text in your voice, vary your pace and don’t forget
to use the pause. Try to use characterisation in your voice for any dialogue.
Try to make audience contact – each member of the audience should feel that you
are speaking to them. However, fluency is more important than eye contact with the
audience and darting your eyes up to the audience and straight back to the page is
If you come across a difficult word, attempt it and go on – never stop or apologise -‐
just keep going.
Try and keep your voice strong to the final word.
Glance over the piece
Announce the title of the Book or Poem and Author. (Do not read it)
Watch your posture.
Vary the rate – but, overall, speak slowly.
Look up and make audience contact – hold the book away from your face.
Use characterisation, if required, e.g. the voice of the Giant in ‘The Selfish
Tell the story clearly and with vocal and facial expression.
Be natural and sincere.
Give it your best shot – don’t stop.
When sight reading a POEM, try to let it flow and tell the story of the poem to your
audience. Watch out for the suspensive pause or enjambment, that is, when the
sense of one line is carried, without a break, but with a slight upward inflection to
the next line.
Pause between the Verses or Stanzas.
Never put emphasis on a conjunctive or unimportant word.
Try to paint word-pictures.
Make audience contact and speak at a suitable pace.
Further notes on clear speaking:
Any performance will be enhanced by Crisp Diction, Projection, Fluency, Sincerity,
Correct Pronunciation and Breath Control.
We must speak clearly so that we can be
heard and understood.
Diction: Do Lip and Tongue exercises daily.
Fluency is to verbalize your thoughts without hesitation.
Sincerity - To mean what you say. It is important to be natural and sincere, as well
as having technique and artistry.
Breath Control: Breath is the motive power of speech. If breath is weak – the sound
will be weak. Do Breathing exercises daily, e.g. stretch to the ceiling and yawn. You
will feel the Diaphragm rising.
Correct Pronunciation is most desirable. If in doubt, consult a Dictionary. For
Any is pronounced Enny
Many is pronounced Menny
Been is pronounced Bin
Often is pronounced Of -en (‘T’ is silent)
Sacrifice is pronounced Sak – rih – fysse
Father rhymes with Rather
Speak from memory a Poem of your own choice.
Announce and perform a Solo Dramatic selection taken, adapted or compiled from a
Play or Book, using appropriate characterisation and movement. (Maximum time
permitted Two Minutes.)
Announce and perform a Two-minute Improvisation, prepared by you OR a
Short piece of Movement to Music choreographed by you (you are responsible for
supplying any equipment you require for your performance.
A. Be able to discuss your understanding of the character you performed and
his/her place in the Play or Book from which the selection was taken.
B. Be able to discuss the History and Uses of Improvisation.
C. Be able to define Emphasis, and demonstrate two emphasis techniques you
used during your performance of your Poem and/or Drama Selection.
For the discussion of CHARACTER, see the theory guidance for Grade Five.
IMPROVISATION is creating a dramatic situation where a person, or group of people,
develop a given theme in their own way. (As with the definition for Mime,
improvisation may be defined in different but equally correct ways)
A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF IMPROVISATION:
Improvisation is based on the Commedia dell’Arte, a form of popular Italian comedy.
Its golden age was 1575 - 1625. It was performed by specially trained actors, who
improvised, on a pre-arranged story line adapted to local circumstances and topical
issues. Stanislavsky, the Moscow Arts Theatre Director, stressed the importance of
character development. He used improvisation, and exercises, to improve the actor’s
ability to become completely absorbed in a role. He called this ‘getting inside the
character’. Lee Strasberg introduced this idea in America, and called it ‘Method
Acting’. (Candidates are encouraged to learn more about the Commedia, Stanislavski
Improvisation is widely used by actors in preparation work on character creation. In
addition, it can be used to flesh out the back story of a character or relationships
between characters where these are not dealt with in the text of the play, or to look
at a scene from another point of view. Being confident at improvisation can also
enhance an actor’s ability to fill in when other performers forget their lines or give
the wrong cue. Group improvisation can also help to develop teamwork and
EMPHASIS means giving extra importance to a word or phrase in order to bring out
its meaning. You can emphasise in the following ways:
by stressing a word or phrase, for example: I hate that
by pausing before and after the word to be emphasised, for example: Is this a – dagger – that I see before me?
by a change of pace
NEVER put emphasis on a conjunctive or unimportant Word, for example, link words
such as and and the.
Speak from memory a Short Lyric.
Announce and perform a Solo Dramatic selection taken, adapted or compiled from a
Play of literary merit written by an Irish author, using appropriate characterisation,
interpretation and movement (Maximum time permitted: Two Minutes)
Announce and perform a One-minute Unprepared Improvisation chosen from a list
provided by the examiner in the examination room (One minute will be given for
A. Be able to define the Lyric, discuss with the examiner how Lyrical poetry differs
from Narrative poetry, and discuss the mood and meaning of the Lyric you
B. Be able to define Rate and Pace and to demonstrate, with reference to your
Solo Dramatic selection, how you used Pace and Pace variation to enhance
C. Be able to define and demonstrate the use of the following Pauses: The
Suspensive Pause, the Emphatic Pause and the Caesural Pause.
A LYRIC is a short subjective poem expressing the emotion or inner feeling of a poet.
Often the musicality of the words is more important than the actual meaning of the
poem. Lyrics often have simple themes and a unity of emotion. The lyric derives its
name from the musical instrument, the LYRE, which was a bit like a small harp. Lyrics
were originally accompanied by music played on this instrument and, of course, we
still use the term ‘lyrics’ to describe the words of a song.
To speak a lyric you must try to interpret the poet’s thoughts with delicacy, restraint
and quiet intensity. You must fully understand the thoughts and emotions in the
poem, before you attempt to speak it, and then convey the poet’s thoughts in your
voice, without letting your own personality intrude in your interpretation. That
doesn’t mean speaking a lyric in a monotone or without expression. A delicate
variety of tone colour and inflection should be used.
NARRATIVE poetry, on the other hand, tells a story. To convey the story, the
performer needs to use less restraint and a greater variety of pace, pause, pitch,
inflection and tone colour than she would use in a lyric.
RATE is the overall speed of your speech – usually measured in words per minute.
Generally, a good rate to aim for is somewhere between 140 to 180 words per
minute, on average. This is a rate at which your listeners will be able to understand
easily what you are saying. The actual rate you use will depend on your subject
matter, the language used in the piece, the mood, the size of the auditorium and
your articulative ability.
Of course, it’s important that you don’t speak at a constant rate all the time. That’s
where PACE comes in.
PACE refers to the various speeds at which you speak within the overall rate, and is
used to add variety and interest, and to convey mood and momentum.
It is usual to start speaking at a slightly slower pace to enable the listeners to
become attuned to the speakers voice and personality. It also gives you time to
conquer your own initial nerves.
PACE VARIATION is an essential part of the speaker’s toolkit and is one of the most
effective ways in which we can generate mood and atmosphere in a piece of verse,
prose or drama. In general, use a slower pace for solemnity, reflection, sadness or
seriousness. Use a faster pace for excitement, danger, happiness and so on.
The SUSPENSIVE PAUSE: When the sense of a line of poetry runs on to the next line,
it is called enjambment. The way this is dealt with is as follows: At the end of the first
line we take a slight upward inflection, linger on or elongate the last word of the line
(this is the suspensive pause) and then, without taking a breath, commence the next
line. This is a very important technique, not difficult to master, but one that makes a
significant difference in conveying the sense and meaning of poems.
To be dead is to stop believing in
the masterpieces we will begin tomorrow
(‘To be Dead” Patrick Kavanagh).
The EMPHATIC PAUSE is when we emphasise a word, phrase or sentence by pausing
just before or just after the word(s).
The CAESURAL PAUSE is a sense pause that occurs within a line of verse, often
indicated by a punctuation mark & often occurs after the most imprtant or main word in the sentence.
Some other pauses:
End-of-line pause - This is normally indicated by the punctuation.
“Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?” (Sonnet – William Shakespeare)
The Rhetorical (or Sense) Pause - “Yes // They told me your were fools // and
that I was not to listen to your fine words // nor trust to your charity” (‘St. Joan’ -
George Bernard Shaw)
Also, this Pause is used in Public Speaking, when a question is asked by the Speaker
for effect, and not to evoke an answer i.e. ‘Shall we all be damned?’
The Dramatic Pause - “I saw a - figure - in the Distance - a mirage” (This is a pause
of emotion or intense feeling).
* Speak from memory a short selection of Prose taken from a Novel or Short Story,
written by an Irish Author.
* Announce and perform a Solo Dramatic selection taken, adapted or compiled from a
Play of literary merit, using a appropriate characterisation, interpretation and
movement. (Maximum time permitted THREE minutes)
* Announce and perform a Two minute Character or Abstract Mime.
A. Be able to describe, demonstrate and discuss the importance of Intercostal
B. Be able to discuss your interpretation of your Solo Dramatic selection,
including your use of Movement, Gesture and Voice.
C. Be able to define, demonstrate and discuss Tone Colour.
The aim of correct BREATHING is to increase one’s comfort, capacity and control.
The correct method of breathing is called Intercostal Diaphragmatic Breathing, or
Whole Chest Breathing, or Rib Reserve Breathing.
Firstly, we always use the lower ribs to expand. This is because they are bigger and
swing more easily than those to the top of the chest. To find these ribs, find the end
of your Breast Bone (the Sternum), go down about one and a half inches from there
and then run your hands round to the side of your body. These are the ribs that will
work best for you. When breathing, you must be careful not to raise your shoulders,
or push your chest forward. Don’t let your stomach muscles go floppy, but STAND
Secondly, the diaphragm is used. This is a big muscle that forms the floor of your
chest or, if you look at it another way, it forms the ceiling of the stomach. It runs
through the body dividing the chest from the stomach. It is possible to lower this
muscle, and so take more air in to the chest. When the diaphragm descends, as you
take in breath, you will feel a little bit of the stomach come out. Put your fingers on
the end of your Sternum again, and go about one and a half inches lower. This is the
area that will swell a little as you breathe in on the diaphragm.
Intercostal Diaphragmatic Breathing takes place in the following sequence:
1. The ribs begin to expand outwards, and upwards, air rushes into the lungs.
2. The diaphragm begins to descend, and more air goes into the lungs.
3. Air is allowed to pass out through the mouth, or nose, as the diaphragm rises.
4. Air continues to pass out through the mouth, or nose, as the ribs descend.
Breathe in through the nose.
Breathe out through a comfortably open mouth.
Try to breathe quietly – don’t gasp or suck the air.
Faults in Breathing:
Clavicular Breathing: This is the raising of the shoulders and a pushing forward of
the top part of the Chest. It means that you will have very little breath.
Abdominal Breathing: Here, the stomach muscles are allowed to stick out, and the
breath is taken very deep.
HOW TO STUDY A DRAMATIC SELECTION
Read the Book, or Play.
Find out how others in the story relate to or think about your character, and answer
the following questions:
When was the Play written?
In what period is it set?
What type of Costume, Manners, Movement and Style is required?
Take three elements of your character which you would like to convey to the
audience, and this will help you to ‘get inside’ the character.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is Intelligent, Courageous and Passionate.
Heathcliff’ from ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte is Brooding, Melodramatic
When performing a Solo, announce the name of your selection, then turn your back
and get into character. When you turn round and face the Examiner, pause for a
moment in order to establish your character.
The candidate’s style of MOVEMENT and GESTURE must be consistent with the
period in which the play is set. Movement will be influenced by a number of factors,
for example, clothing, manners, social position, age and so on. In order to move
appropriately and convincingly for the style and period of the play, the candidate
must conduct appropriate research. Movement and gesture are also influenced by
mood and emotion. While facial expression is critical in conveying emotion,
emotions must also be reflected in the actor’s posture, bodily tension and
movement characteristics. Remember also never to move on a significant line as the
audience will be watching you as you move, and not listening to what you are saying.
GESTURE must come from within. It must never be superimposed, otherwise it will
look stilted and artificial. It should be wide, with the fingers slightly apart – this is
because of the visual effect. However, gesture can be made by any part of the body:
a shrug of the shoulders, a turn of the head, a quick foot movement.
Gestures should be made with as much definition and clarity as possible. Each part
of the gesture must have a beginning, and an end, and should appear spontaneous.
A gesture always precedes, or accompanies, the spoken word.
Modern plays call for far less Gesture than Period plays.
In Prose, and Poetry speaking, use Gesture very sparingly, if at all.
Gesture is the body speaking. The Tension, Speed and Power of Gesture must be
linked with the Tension, Speed and Power of the Words – the Words ‘ride’ on the
Gesture. The golden rule for the use of Gesture is - ‘If in doubt, don’t’.
Do not mask other actors and try not to turn your back on the audience.
Be careful how you sit. Feel the chair with the back of your leg, and sit as your
Never look, or speak, at the audience. Speak to the character you are
addressing on the stage If you are speaking a Soliloquy the same rule applies.
Vocal TONE simply refers to the sound of the voice. Tone is influenced by breath, the
vocal chords, the structure of the larynx, the resonators and the organs of speech.
TONE COLOUR is prompted by and reflective of emotion and mood. In normal
conversation, emotions work on the vocal chords, the resonators and the organs of
speech, altering the quality of the sound of your voice. When speaking poetry, prose
or when acting, you must use your skills to identify the emotions or moods in the
text, and then try to represent or reproduce them in your voice.
*Announce and perform a Eight‐minute Recital incorporating an Introduction, Verse,
Prose, Drama, a Script that links the selections and a conclusion, all to be chosen,
and compiled, by the candidate. The Recital may be on a Theme or represent the
works of One Author. It should be presented as a continuous performance. In order
to help you to observe the time limit, you may perform suitable lines from Poems
rather than entire Poems.
*Announce and present a One-Minute Informal Talk on a subject chosen from a
selection to be provided by the Examiner, in the Examination Room.
A. Be able to discuss your Recital with the Examiner, including the
Theme/Author, Choice of Pieces, Interpretation and techniques used.
B. Be able to define and demonstrate that you understand Resonance and
C. Be able to discuss with the Examiner techniques you could use to sustain an
audience’s interest in a Talk.
RESONANCE is the enlargement of the basic tone in the Resonators (or hollow
cavities) in the neck and head. Sound waves that have been generated in the larynx
are collected in the frontal cavities so that the original tone is given fullness and
quality. The note produced by the vibrations of the vocal chords is modified the
principal resonators which are the Pharynx (Throat), the Mouth, the Nose, the
Sinuses and the Thorax (chest).19
When you are in control of your voice, relaxing and breathing correctly, you will
improve the tone of your voice, giving it volume, quality and resonance.
It is most important to realise that shouting is not resonance. Resonance comes
from learning how to drive your own sound waves through your nose, mouth and
INFLECTION is the upward and downward glide of the voice on the musical scale.
Simple Rising Inflection is used when we ask a question, on the first word of a
stanza, or any new thought within the stanza.
Simple Falling Inflection is used for questions that cannot be answered by a simple
Yes or No. It denotes completeness of statement.
Circumflex Inflection is used to express uncertainty or hesitation.
Compound Inflection is used to express irony or doubt, sneering or sarcasm.
SPEAKING IN PUBLIC
The process leading up to the making of a speech in public has three stages.
1. basic questions about the topic and venue.
2. considering the structure, purpose and content of the presentation.
3. looking at issues relating the delivery of the presentation.
The first stage concerns finding out about the topic, context, duration, audience,
location and technical details.
The second stage concerns working out what your speech is for: is it to persuade and
challenge, inform and educate or encourage and incite to action? The speech should
have a beginning, middle and end and its structure can be summed up in the old
cliché: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what
you’ve told them. Research, simplify, refine to three key points. Make statistics
understandable and use straightforward language. Start with something to grab your
audience’s attention and to establish your credibility. Finish with a summary and a
The third stage is what keeps your audience’s attention. Here are some key
1. Arrive in plenty of time
2. Dress appropriately. Try not to let your clothes or accessories distract the
audience’s attention away from what you will be saying.
3. Remember to smile at your audience, if appropriate, and to make significant
eye contact throughout, in order to engage and draw your listeners in to your
4. Adopt an appropriate stance or posture that allows you to be seen clearly,
that conveys authority and sincerity, and that minimises the strain on your
shoulders, neck and head.
5. Introduce yourself clearly and confidently
6. Use appropriate speech and vocal techniques, including proper breathing and
good breath control, forward tone, resonance, good pacing (aim for 150-‐160
words per minute), variety of pitch, tone, inflection and pace, clear diction.
7. Mentally and physically project your voice so that you can be heard clearly.
8. If you are using a microphone, make sure that you understand how to use
9. Use oratorical techniques to enhance your delivery. Such techniques include
using the pause and silence appropriately, varying your intensity, varying
your pace to convey immediacy or authority, and to allow your listeners to
take in what you are saying, using tone colour to reflect emotion, using stress
and emphasis on key words and phrases, using rhetorical questions, or actual
questions and answers, repeating key phrases or statements to reinforce
10. Sometimes, you can use gestures for emphasis. However, take care to use
them sparingly: they can distract if overused.
11. Moving around the podium can also serve to engage your audience and lend
emphasis to your words. Again, take care not to overuse movement and
avoid pacing from side to side like a caged animal.
12. Above all, your delivery should be natural, sincere and convincing.
13. Never read your presentation or speech, and don’t memorise it word for
word. Read or memorised speeches often sound stilted and flat. If you need
to use aides memoires, use small word cards discreetly. They should contain
only key words to keep you on track.
14. If you are using visual aids, use them carefully and only for emphasis. Face
your audience at all times.
15. Finally, never underestimate the importance of good preparation and
rehearsal. The more time you spend on preparation, the more effective your
presentation is likely to be. Rehearse your presentation several times. If you
can, ask someone to video a rehearsal so that you can critique your own
performance and iron out any problems, or become aware of any distracting
habits you might have, or intrusive thinking sounds.
GRADE ELEVEN (Senior Advanced)
*Speak from memory a Sonnet.
*Announce and perform a Solo Dramatic selection taken or adapted from a Play
written before 1800, with suitable interpretation, characterisation and movement.
(Maximum time permitted – THREE minutes).
*Announce and perform a TWO Minute Story Mime OR a short piece of Movement to
Music choreographed by the candidate.
A. Be able to discuss the form and structure of the Petrarchan and
Shakespearean sonnet with the examiner, and the mood, meaning, and your
interpretation of the sonnet you performed.
b. Be able to define, demonstrate and discuss your understanding of phrasing.
C. Be able to discuss how you prepared for performance your solo dramatic
selection with particular reference to your use of movement and gesture.
The SONNET is a fourteen line poem that follows a strict rhyming scheme and was
traditionally written in iambic pentameter. The sonnet originated in Italy in the 13th
The most famous early sonneteer was Petrarch, a scholar and poet who lived in Italy
in the 14th Century and after whom early Italian sonnets were named. The typical
structure of the Petrarchan sonnet was two quatrains (groups of four lines) that
formed a proposition, question or problem, followed by two tercets (groups of three
lines) that suggest a resolution. The ninth line of the sonnet (beginning of the first
tercet) marks a definite change in tone or mood.
The rhyming scheme of the typical Petrarchan sonnet is
In English literature, the sonnet was made popular in the Elizabethan Age, most
notably by Shakespeare who wrote lots of them, over 150 of which survive. While
the fourteen line form was retained, the structure and rhyming scheme were altered
and the mood change (or ‘volta’) comes in the last couplet. The typical rhyming
scheme for a Shakespearean sonnet is
Having been considered old-fashioned for a long time, the sonnet has been revived
in the last century or so. Seamus Heaney wrote several sonnets, including ‘Requiem
for the Croppies’ and ‘The Skylight’. Love sonnets written by Pablo Neruda are worth
exploring for their passion and intensity!
In preparation for this grade, candidates need to understand and be able to explain how the
sonnet they are performing conforms (or how it doesn’t conform) with the structures
outlined above, how its theme is developed over the fourteen lines, and its mood and
The 1999 film ‘Ten Things I hate about You’, starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, is based on
Shakespeare’s play ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. In the film, Julia Stiles, playing Kat, reads a poem (a
sonnet) which is actually a modern version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 141. Here’s the film version:
I hate the way you talk to me,
And the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car.
I hate it when you stare.
I hate your big dumb combat boots,
And the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick.
(It even makes me rhyme.)
I hate the way you’re always right.
I hate it when you lie.
I hate it when you make me laugh—
Even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you—not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all
PHRASING refers to the way in which we cluster words together for meaning or to
enhance the sense of a poem, piece of prose or drama selection. A phrase is a group
of words linked together but not necessarily making sense on their own. The key to
the appropriate phrasing of a poem, prose or drama selection is preparation.
Read the selection several times. Ask yourself: what does it mean?
Observe the punctuation which will often indicate how the author felt the piece
should be phrased. Use the punctuation as a guide, but it is not always necessary to
phrase according to the punctuation.
Identify phrases that make sense on their own and ones that need to be linked to
other phrases for the meaning to be clear.
See where you should take a breath so that you don’t run out of breath when
Practice and rehearse the piece, using varied phrase lengths to hold your audience’s
Remember that the purpose of phrasing is to help to interpret the selection for your
GRADE TWELVE – (FINAL GRADE):
1. Speak from memory a short poem written after 1960.
2. Announce and perform a solo dramatic selection taken, adapted or compiled from a
play of literary merit, using appropriate characterisation, interpretation and
movement. (maximum time permitted: two minutes).
3. Announce and speak from memory a short selection of prose taken from a novel or
short story written by a non-Irish author.
4. Announce and perform a two-minute mime or a two-minute prepared improvisation
or a short piece of movement to music.
A. Understand and be able to discuss any aspect of your use of vocal
modulation (pitch, rate and pace, pause, tone and tone colour, inflection,
emphasis, power, and intensity) in your programme
B. Be able to discuss in detail how you prepared your mime, improvisation or
movement to music performance.
C. Understand and be able to discuss the use of visual, auditory, olfactory and
tactile imagery in literature.
Vocal Modulation (all aspects already covered except …)
Vocal Tone simply refers to the sound of the voice. Tone is influenced by breath, the vocal
chords, the structure of the larynx, the resonators and the organs of speech.
Tone Colour is prompted by and reflective of emotion and mood. In normal conversation,
emotions work on the vocal chords, the resonators and the organs of speech, altering the
quality of the sound of your voice. When speaking poetry, prose or when acting, you must
use your skills to identify the emotions or moods in the text, and then try to represent or
reproduce them in your voice.
Power and Intensity are achieved through the combination of tone, tone colour and
emphasis and can invest strong dramatic or emotional feeling in a phrase, sentence or
passage in order to convey conviction, sincerity and/or passion. Power and intensity need to
be used judiciously. Overuse can become wearing for both performer and audience.
The examiner will expect the candidate to explain how she/he used the elements of
modulation to enhance her/his performance of her/his exam pieces. In preparation, the
candidate should select a number of lines from her/his pieces in order to demonstrate her/his
Imagery is a literary device that writers use to create pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and
tactile feelings in your imagination.
To do this, authors use figurative language and suggestive adjectives that appeals to one,
some or all of our five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch).
Figurative language may include: simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, idiom and
personification (candidates should understand what these are and how they contribute to
Visual imagery appeals to our sense of sight and helps us to see a scene in our mind.
‘For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.’
‘We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes.’
(Blackberry Picking, Seamus Heaney)
Auditory or Sound imagery helps us to hear sounds from a scene.
‘ … the tinkling bottom …’ (Blackberry Picking, Seamus Heaney)
‘Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging.’
(Digging, Seamus Heaney)
‘Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring,
The unpredictable fantail of sparks
Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.’
(The Forge, Seamus Heaney)
Olfactory imagery is about smell. The author uses words to bring familiar smells to our
‘I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss. ‘
(Personal Helicon, Seamus Heaney)
Tactile imagery is to do with touch and helps us to imagine how things feel when we touch
or hold them.
‘Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests: snug as a gun.’ (Digging, Seamus Heaney)
Although not listed in the syllabus, there is also Gustatory imagery which recalls the taste of
‘You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine:’
(Blackberry Picking, Seamus Heaney)
When speaking poetry, prose or a drama piece rich in imagery, it is important to give your
audience time to create these images in their minds.
*Introduce and speak from memory a short Poem.
*Introduce and speak from memory a short Prose selection.
*Introduce and perform a Dramatic Solo selection. (Maximum time three minutes)
*Introduce and perform a short piece of Movement to Music choreographed by the
candidate or a Two Minute Abstract Mime.
A. Discuss with the examiner why you chose, and how you prepared, your
pieces for the examination, placing particular emphasis on your
interpretation of the pieces performed.
B. Understand and be able to discuss rhyme in verse (including rhyme
schemes, assonance, eye rhyme, consonance and alliteration)
C. Understand and be able to define rhythm and metre in poetry, and be able
to define and demonstrate the following: anapaest, dactyl, iamb and
The Examiner may initiate a discussion on any aspect of the Theory
requirements outlined in the Grade syllabus.
Choreographing a piece of Movement to Music:
Think of the mood – tempo – changes in mood or tempo.
Think of the shapes – they must reflect the theme of the music.
If it is a song, you can structure the movements to fit the words.
Change levels as music suggests.
Change shapes as music suggests.
You can also take a story, and put appropriate music and movement to it, i.e.
‘ The Pied Piper’. (Piper bows to Mayor, and gestures that he can rid the
Town of Rats, etc.)
Music can also be played, and you can move freely to it…
What does the music say to you?
What images does it create in your mind?
What mood does it create?
Remember: Movement to Music is not Mime, is not Dance
It is expressing, through your Body and Face, the emotion and feeling you wish to
convey in your performance.
A rhyme, generally speaking, is when the ends of two or more words sound the same, e.g.,
cold and fold. Rhyme is most often used in poetry where repeating patterns can create
pleasing rhythmic and sometimes melodic effects. If you think of nursery rhymes, too, you’ll
understand that rhymes can also make things easier for small children to learn.
So, having dealt with rhyme in general, here are some other types of rhyme:
Assonance refers to the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words, for example, ‘late’ and
‘cake’. In poetry assonance can be used as a form of emphasis or to help to create a mood.
Consider Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle into the Good Night’
‘Do not go gentle into the good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’
Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds, most usually in words that are close
together, such as ‘pitter patter’.
Alliteration occurs when the same consonant sounds appear at the beginning of nearby
words, for example, ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’. In poetry, it can serve to
emphasise phrases and rhythm, and enhance atmosphere. Here’s an example from Edgar
Allen Poe’s The Raven’.
‘Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.’
Eye rhymes have similar spelling but different sounds. In other words, they look as if they
should rhyme but they don’t. Examples are ‘food’ and ‘good’, and ‘cough’ and ‘bough’.
A rhyming scheme is a pattern of rhymes that occur at the end of each line in poems. Some
of the most common are found in
Rhyming couplets (aa, bb, cc, …)
Alternate rhyme (abab, cdcd, efef, …)
Sonnets (abba, abba, cdc, dcd – Petrarchan), (abab, cdcd, efef, gg – Shakespearean)
In the examination, candidates will be expected to give examples of rhymes other than the
ones listed above.
Rhythm comes from a Greek word meaning ‘beat’, and is the regular beat in verse.
Metre (or meter) is the framework on which a poem is built. It is the regular arrangement of
stressed and unstressed syllables in lines of verse. If we count the number of stresses in any
given line, we get the number of feet in that line.
Iambic (v -) is unstressed followed by stressed: ‘alive’
‘Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships?’
(Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe)
Trochee (- v) is stressed followed by unstressed: ‘Emma’, ‘Pizza’
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
(from The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Longfellow)
Anapaest or Anapaest (v v -) is two unstressed followed by one stressed: ‘not at all’
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
(A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore)
Dactyl (- v v) is one stressed followed by two unstressed: ‘library’
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
(The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson)
In the examination, candidates will be expected to give examples of rhythm other than the
ones listed above.