The role of the mentor

At the moment I am in the midst of marking Research Presentations from around the world. It is amazing what the range of presentation styles is like, and so exciting to see students that research thoroughly and authentically, then genuinely and passionately share their findings.

Some students of course just share the information without an ounce of excitement, sparkle or interest – now, you are not marked for your enthusiasm, but I can safely say that students who have enjoyed the exploration and research of their tradition and convention, do tend to do better. These students have chosen to research  something they want to know about, care about their work, and are eager to share their knowledge with others.

This blog is going to focus on the role of the mentor – that important person who needs to be enthusiastic, dedicated and, most importantly, to care.

When you are working through the Research Presentation there is a lot to do, many aspects of the assessment criteria to understand and lots of logistics to think about.

During the process of research, practical exploration and then preparing the moment and the presentation itself, the mentor can help you make sure you are on the right track. Here is a check list of things that the mentor could do to help:

  1. The theatre tradition: Make sure you have chosen a tradition from the list. Tell your mentor what your tradition is, and show them a range of sources you are going to use for research. They may suggest some other sources they have.
  2. Tradition and convention: Explain your tradition to your mentor, and then explain your convention (in the presentation you need to explain both, so it is good to make sure your mentor understands what you are focusing on for the second bullet point in criterion A). See if your mentor has suggestions about what else you can say, or what you need to make clearer.
  3. Process of exploration of the convention: For criterion B you need to explain how you went about practically exploring you convention. Your mentor can help you with this by taking photos (or film) as you are doing this exploration, or simply by doing it with you. They can be your student.
  4. Process of application to the moment: During your process you need to explain how you made choices about how you approached the moment and applied the convention to your moment. Try explaining this to your mentor. They should be able to understand what you did and why. If they don’t, then the examiner won’t either! See what suggestions your mentor has.
  5. Performing the moment: The moment needs to be a self contained moment of theatre, where you perform off script. Your mentor can help you with lines, or maybe they will play the music for you, or turn the lights off, if you have any technical needs (remember they cannot appear in the video itself). Ask them to make some time to rehearse with you.
  6. Managing your materials: You will probably have a power point, cue cards, maybe a prop or two and maybe a costume change. Show your presentation to your mentor and they can tell you if you are wasting any of the time and if there is an easier way to present. Remember you need to be appropriately dressed for what you are doing – wear something comfortable, or be in costume all the way through, if possible.
  7. Criterion D: The final part of the assessment asks you to compare your convention to another theatre practice. Many students make the mistake of comparing their tradition to another practice. Tell your mentor what you are planning to say, then they can help you get this right. If you are struggling to find a theatre practice to compare your convention to, then again your mentor may have some ideas. Today I heard a student compare the movement of Karagoz puppets (Turkish Shadow Puppetry) to Epic theatre – it was a brilliant comparison as he focused on alienation, gestus and the audience always remembering that this was not real, but was people telling a story.
  8. Bibliography and power point: Ask your mentor to look at your materials. You may have not dated when you accessed a website, for example, and your mentor may notice this. You need to source all the material (images or quotes) on your power point, so your mentor can see if you have done this. You do need to send both of these off to the IB, so make sure your teacher has copies of your bibliography and power point.

So, try to help each other, and if you pay attention to the short list above then you will help each other to make clear presentations, and will have covered all the requirements. Good luck.

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