Miss D S Coates – Head of Drama
Mrs S McWilliams
Mr M Plasom-Scott
Drama thrives within the school, both within the classroom and beyond. Pupils from the school have achieved places with the National and Regional Youth Theatres. There are annual productions within which it is possible for pupils to become fully involved in performing, set building, lighting, and sound. We have a creative arts evening which runs during the summer term and involves many pupils in open air and studio performances.
The Drama Department has exclusive use of the Drama Studio, situated on the first floor of the main school building. The Studio is fully equipped with a large lighting rig as well as a 4 speaker amplification sound system.
Adjoining the Studio is a reference room and resources area housing texts, reference books and computers. This space is widely used by GCSE and A Level Drama students. A new addition to the department is the design and technical studio, situated below the school canteen. This offers facilities for students to explore theatre design, creating model sets, masks and properties.
Visits to high quality theatrical productions are a feature of the extra-curricular life of the school. At all levels, we encourage making the most of opportunities to visit the theatre as part of English and Drama Studies but also as a part of a wider education. In particular there is an A-Level theatre visit to London consisting of productions, lectures and backstage tours. We make every effort to take students to worthwhile productions of Key Stage 3, GCSE and A-Level set texts.
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
Within the lower school, drama is taught once a fortnight in the school hall or drama studio. Emphasis is placed on confidence building, speaking and listening skills as well as working within a group. Each year group use a play text to learn performance skills, as well as design and technical. Students also work on script writing and watch live theatre via digital streaming from which they can learn about reviewing live productions.
Why study Drama and Theatre Arts?
Drama is an enabling and enriching subject in which students gain many transferable skills. They learn to cooperate, communicate their ideas, listen to others, problem solve, be part of a productive team, show leadership, be organised and meet deadlines. For those with good I.T. skills, students can use sound, film editing and lighting software. For those with design, art and textile skills, it offers the opportunity to design and construct costumes and sets. The Drama Studio is fully equipt with a lighting rig that includes LED lanterns and is programmed and operated via computerised software. The sound system consists of a 4 speaker amplification system and mixer with computerised software that allows for downloading, recording and editing sound and film.
Features of the course:
Lessons are a mixture of practical and written work.
Two practical assessments constitute 60% of the total course. They involve a number of components: acting, set, costume, lighting and sound design, of which students can opt to specialise in one for each practical examination.
The practical examinations: A scripted play and a devised piece.
In the scripted performance students perform 2 extracts for an external examiner and specialise in a chosen skill. They also devise their own performance and within this process they learn to improvise, script write and direct. The devising piece involves the completion of an individual working note book, which logs the development, refinement, and creative decision making during the rehearsal period as well as the audience response to the final performance. This log book is externally examined.
The GCSE written paper consists of 3 sections. Section A is multiple choice questions, on the functioning of theatre. Section B is 4 short essays on a set text – presently we study Blood Brothers by Willy Russel. The set text questions are on acting, lighting, costume and set. Students are allowed to take the text into the examination. The set text is practically explored in lesson via workshopping, acting, design and technical ideas as well as annotating the text. Section C is an essay question on a piece of live theatre previously seen. Live theatre is seen throughout the two year course and then discussed, analysed and evaluated in class.
There is the opportunity to take part in large arts events such as the Winter Droving as well as street theatre and workshops. The department organises evening theatre trips, live screenings at the cinema, and workshops run by professional actors, designers and directors. For students in receipt of pupil premium they are entitled to funding for curriculum trips.
What opportunities for progression does it offer?
The course is an excellent foundation for those students who are aspiring to study A-Level theatre studies and/or English literature. It is a multifaceted course that enables students to offer an individual skill within a group setting and thus works to the strengths of individual students. The analytical, evaluative and reflective skills learnt are an asset to many other courses that students may study beyond drama.
Topics for study
Acting, Design, Lighting, and Sound
Two Practical Assessments (60%)
One 1 Hour 45 Minutes Written Examination (40%)
A Level Drama and Theatre
Why study Drama and Theatre?
Students of A level drama and theatre develop invaluable life skills that are applicable to a wide range of higher education subjects as well as the workplace. The subject refines students’ collaborative skills, analytical thinking and their approach to research. Students grow in confidence and maturity as they successfully realise their own ideas. They learn to evaluate objectively and develop a sound appreciation of the influences that cultural and social contexts can have on decision-making. Whatever the future holds, students of A-Level drama and theatre emerge with a toolkit of transferable skills preparing them for their next steps.
What do I need to know or be able to do before taking this course?
Students need to demonstrate that they have an interest in drama and theatre and are able to work creatively. Having studied GCSE drama helps, but is not essential to taking A level. Students need to be able to read widely and work closely with others as part of a creative team. You need to be able to express you’re creative ideas and be open to trying new and exciting ways of working. There is a 4-day study visit to London in the first term giving students the opportunity to see live theatre, participate in workshops and back stage tours.
Features of the course:
This qualification emphasises practical creativity alongside research and theoretical understanding. Students learn through experience, seeing theatre and making theatre for themselves. Students are introduced to a wide range of theatrical styles and contexts as they explore plays practically and devise and work on performances.
Students choose to develop as a:
Designer – lighting
Designer – sound,
Designer – set
Designer – costume
A combination of these
Whichever option they choose, students will gain many invaluable skills, both theatrical and transferable, to expand their horizons.
Topics for study
Creating original drama – 30%
Making theatre – 30%
Written examination paper – 40%
Creating original drama is a group devised piece, in which students may specialise in performing, lighting, sound, set, or costume. Students must also complete a working note book of the production which is externally examined.
Making theatre is the performance of an extract from 3 play texts, in which students may specialise in performing, lighting, sound, set, or costume. The 3rd and final extract of text is performed for an external examiner. Each student must complete a reflective report which compares the 3 plays and the individual skill offered.
Written Paper is a 1x 3 hour examination. This paper consists of essay writing on 2 set texts and a live theatre performance.