In this study, the transformational play approach was further used to deploy drama-based situational learning in the classroom through the Digital Learning Theatre (DLT) by engaging drama performers and the audience collaboratively. This study analysed the learners' learning effectiveness based on translation and sentence-construction abilities, and their perception by focussing on concentration, and comprehension of dialogues before and after the drama-based activity. The experimental results were based on both the DLT including tablet PCs to enable audience participation in drama performances, and the DLT for drama performances in which the audience can participate through traditional open discussion sessions with the narrator of the drama. Sixty-five students were selected randomly as participants from the English as a Foreign Language academic program at the junior high school level. The application of the DLT including the tablet PCs approach showed considerable improvement in students' learning effectiveness as well as a significant positive effect on classroom learning, outperform the effectiveness of the DLT with traditional open discussion sessions for the audience. Accordingly, to improve students' learning effectiveness, their engagement in the learning process can be advanced through situational learning activities using educational technologies that combine with collaborative learning mechanisms for classroom learning. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic The transformational play proposed by Sasha Barab is designed based on situated cognition theory to position persons, content, and context together through digital games. Dorothy Heathcote proposed a drama-based learning approach for learning in the classroom, and learners can play various roles in the drama to learn in a situational learning setting. The teacher, too, plays a role to guide the students and engage them in the situational learning setting. Integration of immersive educational technologies supports learning by reducing obstacles to adoption in the learning process and improve learning effectiveness. Within a rich contextual learning environment, learners can be placed in different situational learning tasks that allow them to apply existing knowledge and experiences. What does this paper add This study introduces a manner of applying the transformational play approach in drama-based situational learning activities suitable for collaborative learning in a classroom setting. It introduces a practical and simple method to transform a regular classroom into a digital version of the learning theatre, including a virtual stage to drama performances. The drama-based situational learning approach facilitates the audience as well as the performers to transform themselves into protagonists in the learning context by collaboratively following the learning content and learning with their peers. The technology-enhanced drama-based situational learning approach is introduced based on the transformation play approach that allows the students to learn situationally through different script instances, and improves their learning effectiveness by helping them understand the learning content through performing, participating, watching, and interacting in the learning context. Implications for practice and/or policy Learners can apply their prior knowledge and experiences creatively through drama-based learning activities, and interactive engagement allows the audience to participate in the learning process equally as drama performers. Educators and learning system developers can implement this approach to facilitate situational practice and discuss learning content. The learning process supports the reinterpretation of the learners' experiences and reflects on how to procure/adopt new knowledge and apply it to real-life situations. Drama performance is a collaborative/group learning task and it is performed for the audience. Students with higher achievements will help students with lower achievements so that everyone can contribute in the learning process to achieve their learning objectives.