Drama & Theatre Studies

"The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun."
Benedict Cumberbatch

The department strives and aims to:

  •  encourage and foster a love of theatre
  • help pupils to develop as effective communicators
  • develop creativity and independence of thought;
  • equip pupils with the ability to be confident and an effective member of a team  and later in the wider community;
  • provide pupils with the opportunity to develop their self-confidence through presentations and performances;
  • equip pupils with the necessary knowledge and practical skills to create and perform plays;
  • broaden the experiences of pupils by visits to theatre productions, streamed performances and visiting practitioners and companies;
  • promote empathy and understanding of others;
  • provide enrichment and nurture talent.

Lower School

Drama is an integral part of the English curriculum.  During the study of set plays, including Shakespeare as well as modern drama, the students are encouraged to realise key scenes in performance and to evaluate the dramatic effects.

The students develop solid understanding and knowledge of drama theory and they learn about the building blocks of performance skills, theatre conventions and theory.

The performance of poetry also helps to develop each students' awareness of diction, intonation, gesture and pace.

Drama rehearsal techniques such as hot-seating and thought-tracking are used to develop understanding of character.

A programme of theatre visits, often in conjunction with the English Faculty, providing rich experience of local and national productions.  Visiting theatre companies and practitioners also enhance the curriculum.

Upper School

"Unless the theatre can ennoble you, make you a better person, you should flee from it."  Constantin Stanislavski

GCSE Drama (AQA)

Assessment is by external examination (40%) and practical component (60%)

Pupils will complete a two year course building on knowledge and skills acquired in previous years.  They will extend their knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre, analyse a set text being aware of its context and exploring ideas of how the play might be interpreted practically from an actor’s and director’s perspective (e.g. set design or lighting design).  They will carry out research, collaborate with others, rehearse and devise their own piece of drama and well as rehearse and perform from script.

In the first terms pupils will build on their devising and performance skills while studying a range of theatre practitioners and extending their knowledge of genres and styles. They will regularly review and evaluate their work in preparation for the written component of the examination. In terms five and six students will study and analyse a play text set by the board. This is in preparation for the examination paper.

When in Year 11 students will complete a devised performance and then a scripted performance.

During the course students will have the opportunity to attend live performances which will enable them to respond to one of the examination questions. They will prepare for the visit and analyse and review the performance afterwards.

Preparation for the final examination is integrated within the two year course. Before the examination the students will have the opportunity to re-visit the set play text and the live performance question.

The course itself can both be explorative and exciting, with the students having the opportunity to follow their interests and the teacher able to select and adapt material to inspire and challenge the group.

Studying a practical subject, pupils should be aware that when working towards an assessed component they will occasionally need to commit themselves to rehearsals at lunchtime and after school.

The parts of the examination

In the written examination students will be briefly tested on the characteristics of performance of text and dramatic works and the roles and responsibilities of theatre makers in contemporary professional practice. The students will then respond to their set play text from a choice of: Miller’s  "The Crucible";   Russell's  "Blood Brothers";   Barlow’s  "39 Steps";  Grose’s Kneehigh production "Hansel and Gretel";   Blackman/Cook’s "Noughts and Crosses";   Shakespeare’s  "A Midsummer Night’s Dream".  Finally, students will answer a two part question on a live performance they have seen.

The first practical component is a devised piece of work completed in a particular genre or style of theatre. Pupils will research, devise and refine and finally perform their piece. In addition they must complete a devising log that traces their inspiration and intentions, their development and a final analysis and evaluation of the piece.

The second practical component requires the exploration, rehearsal and performance of two extracts from a play text that is in contrast to the one being studied for the final examination.

"No one will improve your lot if you do not yourself."  Bertolt Brecht

Sixth Form

A-Level  Drama and Theatre Arts  (AQA)

Reformed A Level for first examination in June 2018 (AS) and 2019 (A Level)

Assessment is by external examination (40%) and practical (60%).

During the course students will create, perform and respond to live theatre and develop the creativity and independence to become effective theatre makers. They will study in depth the work of two practitioners exploring the relationship between theory and practice. Through workshops and research they will then apply their knowledge to two practical components.

Pupils will be encouraged to see a variety of performances both live and streamed which will not only encourage them to reflect on the different ways theatre makers collaborate to create theatre but will develop their analytical skills and inform decision making in their practical work.

The course provides the student with flexibility both in choosing their practitioners and in the choice of play texts. It encourages a high degree of both collaboration and independent research and thinking.

The written examination at the end of the course requires students to respond to two play texts from separate set lists.

Set A – Sophocles’ "Antigone";  Shakespeare’s  "Much Ado About Nothing";  Ibsen’s "Hedda Gabler";  Brecht’s "The Caucasian Chalk Circle"; Dario Fo’s  "Accidental Death of an Anarchist";  Butterworth’s  "Jerusalem"

Set B  - Lorca’s  "Yerma";  Williams’ "The Glass Menagerie";  Berkoff’s  "Metamorphosis";  Churchill’s  "Cloud 9";   Wertenbaker’s  "Our Country’s Good";   Teale’s  "Bronte"

The third question is on live performance, where pupils analyse and evaluate the work of theatre makers.

The first practical component requires a scripted performance.  For this, students will need to interpret text, create and communicate meaning, realise artistic intention in text based drama and analyse and evaluate their work.  They must study a practitioner and for the assessment explore practically their key extract taken from a different play and perform one of these key extracts. Finally they are required to provide a reflective report that analyses and evaluates their interpretation of the key extracts studied.

The first practical component requires students to create their own piece of devised theatre. Here they must develop their own ideas, research relevant processes, collaborate effectively in a group explore devising and rehearsal methods and refine their work. Instrumental to this devised piece is their study and exploration of an influential practitioner. In addition students must produce an individual working notebook detailing their devising process.