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Theatre is a practical subject that encourages discovery through experimentation, the taking of risks and the presentation of ideas to others. It results in the development of both theatre and life skills; the building of confidence, creativity and working collaboratively.

The IB Diploma Programme theatre course is a multifaceted theatre-making course of study. It gives students the opportunity to make theatre as creators, designers, directors and performers. It emphasizes the importance of working both individually and collaboratively as part of an ensemble. It offers the opportunity to engage actively in the creative process, transforming ideas into action as inquisitive and productive artists.

Students experience the course from contrasting artistic perspectives. They learn to apply research and theory to inform and to contextualize their work. The theatre course encourages students to appreciate that through the processes of researching, creating, preparing, presenting and critically reflecting on theatre— as participants and audience members—they gain a richer understanding of themselves, their community and the world.

Through the study of theatre, students become aware of their own personal and cultural perspectives, developing an appreciation of the diversity of theatre practices, their processes and their modes of presentation. It enables students to discover and engage with different forms of theatre across time, place and culture and promotes international-mindedness.

Key features of the curriculum model

To fully prepare students for the demands of the assessment tasks, teachers should ensure that their planning addresses each of the syllabus activities outlined below, the content and focus of which is not prescribed. Students are required to investigate the core syllabus areas from the perspectives of creator, designer, director, performer and spectator. 

HL ONLY Creating theatre based on theatre theory At HL, students research and examine the various contexts of at least one theatre theorist. At HL, students practically explore at least one theatre theorist collaboratively and engage with the process of creating a piece of theatre based on their theory. At HL, students create, present and evaluate at least one theatre piece based on an aspect(s) of a theatre theorist’s work they have explored.
SL & HL Working with play texts Students research and examine the various contexts of at least one published play text and reflect on live theatre moments they have experienced as spectators.  Students take part in the practical exploration of at least two contrasting published play texts and engage with the process of transforming a play text into action. Students direct at least one scene or section from one published play text which is presented to others.  
SL & HL Examining world theatre traditions  Students research and examine the various contexts of at least one world theatre tradition.  Students practically examine the performance conventions of at least one world theatre tradition and apply this to the staging of a moment of theatre. Students present a moment of theatre to others which demonstrates the performance convention(s) of at least one world theatre tradition.
SL & HL Collaboratively creating original theatre  Students reflect on their own personal approaches, interests and skills in theatre. They research and examine at least one starting point and the approaches employed by one appropriate professional theatre company, and consider how this might influence their own personal approaches. Students respond to at least one starting point and engage with the process of transforming it collaboratively into an original piece of theatre. Students participate in at least one production of a collaboratively created piece of original theatre, created from a starting point, which is presented to others.

Students keep a theatre journal throughout the two-year theatre course which charts their development and their experiences of theatre as a creator, designer, director, performer and spectator.

Key features of the assessment model

  • Available at standard (SL) and higher levels (HL)
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
External assessment tasks SL HL

Task 1: Solo theatre piece (HL only)

  • Students at HL research a theatre theorist they have not previously studied, identify an aspect(s) of their theory and create and present a solo theatre piece (4–8 minutes) based on this aspect(s) of theory. 
N/A 35%

Task 2: Director’s notebook (SL and HL)

  • Students at SL and HL choose a published play text they have not previously studied and develop ideas regarding how it could be staged for an audience.
35% 20%

Task 3: Research presentation (SL and HL)

  • Students at SL and HL plan and deliver an individual presentation (15 minutes maximum) to their peers in which they outline and physically demonstrate their research into a convention of a theatre tradition they have not previously studied. 
30% 20%


Internal assessment task SL HL

Task 4: Collaborative project (SL and HL)

  • Students at SL and HL collaboratively create and present an original piece of theatre (lasting 13–15 minutes) for and to a specified target audience, created from a starting point of their choice. 
35% 25%


Learn more about theatre in a DP workshop for teachers

Theatre subject brief

Subject briefs are short two-page documents providing an outline of the course. Read the standard level (SL) and/or higher level (HL) subject brief below. 


Theatre SL & HL (PDF, 38 KB) pdf

Latest curriculum updates

This subject is reviewed by the IB regularly to ensure the latest educational research is applied. Please keep up to date with the latest subject updates for Theatre.