Drama / Performing Arts
Mrs E Booton-Ford
Drama is taught across all key-stages within the school. The subject develops a number of skills including working in a collaborative and creative manner, using the voice and body to dramatically explore character and theme, the study of drama from its ancient roots to modern day plays, and how to use staging and design creatively to engage an audience. Students are encouraged to sensitively experience real life issues such as the journey of a refugee, devising in response to a stimulus, creating performances from texts such as ‘Labyrinth’ by David Calcut and putting on a show of their own realisation.
What skills will I develop?
Our aim is to develop a range of skills in Drama that encourage pupils to be confident to express their ideas and perform for an audience. In rehearsal we want pupils to work well as a team: listening to others, offering their thoughts without judgement and taking the opportunity to lead a group. They learn the important skill of working to tight time deadlines that encourage them to work purposefully and trust each other. The texts and themes studied are often sensitive and pupils learn how to sympathetically imagine the lives and experiences of other people. When working with text they also hone their analytical skills, both as means of understanding and interpreting the words on the page, but also to creatively realise these scenes on stage. We also feel it is important that they have control over the use of their voice and body, and that they have the confidence to present to others and engage with an audience.
Key Stage 3:
Year 7 are introduced to the skills of Drama. Lessons are thematic in nature to encourage students to become expressive. The year begins with exploring stock characters and performance structure. Following this, students apply a range of rehearsal techniques to extracts of a performance text before ending with the exploration of non-naturalistic rehearsal techniques.
Year 8 begin the year exploring contemporary themes and issues surrounding being a youth in contemporary society, through this unit, students examine a range of viewpoints and stereotypes in performance. Secondly, students explore the impact of figures hidden throughout history who have made a significant impact in the arts, sciences, sports and civil-rights movement. Next, the students explore Greek Theatre through the study of the play ‘The Labyrinth’ which introduces them to the roots of Greek theatre and features such as a Greek Chorus and using gesture with meaning. The fourth unit of work is based on the experience of being a refuge. Here they explore real life situations in a dramatic form and how to convey a serious situation to an audience convincingly. The students then move on to study a performance text, applying a range of naturalistic and non-naturalistic techniques to their performances of key extracts to communicate atmosphere and relationships. The students end the year applying their taught knowledge by putting on their own show, embodying the roles of director, performer, marketing executive, finance officer, costume designer, set designer and props designer.
In preparation for their GCSE options, year 9 are introduced to three schemes of work that builds on their knowledge from years 7 and 8. Students commence the year exploring a range of contemporary theatre styles, with a focus on physicality. Following this, students explore the impact of practitioners and their techniques through workshop and devising based lessons. Finally, in preparation for component one of the GCSE, students explore the physical theatre style in response to a performance text.
Key Stage 4:
Drama as an options choice engages students through the encouragement of creativity, a focus on practical work which reflects twenty-first century theatre practice and the development of skills that will support progression to further study of drama and a wide range of other subjects. The course has a clear and coherent structure centred on three components, one that focuses on devising, another that focuses on performance of a text and a written exam that encourages students to focus on how meaning in performance is communicated through the audience, performer and director. As an option, Drama obviously has a practical focus and with the structure of the course examining a range of skills, this means that marks can be gained throughout the two years and is not solely reliant on a terminal examination. Studying Drama at GCSE develops transferable skills for progression to A level – students will develop a multitude of skills, including collaboration, communication, and an understanding of how to amend and refine work in order to make a smooth transition to their next level of study. It also supports progression to A level – we have chosen this GCSE to complement our A level qualification. This ensures sensible progression of knowledge, understanding and skills from GCSE to A level and similar approaches to assessment, so that they will have a coherent experience of drama from Year 10 to Year 13.
Key Stage 5:
The A level Theatre Drama course has a clear and coherent structure – the qualification has a straightforward structure with three components, one that focuses on devising, one that focuses on performing or designing skills and one that focuses on practical exploration of texts to interpret them for performance. This new specification focuses on the practical exploration of performance texts, including exploring them in light of the work of theatre practitioners. The performance texts that will be studied for the exam will require students to articulate how they would perform in certain roles, design for certain scenes and interpret a text for performance,
putting practical work at the heart of the specification. The performance texts have been chosen to engage students and inspire teachers and students. We have avoided the most popular performance texts to ensure that students can still perform them in the non-examination assessment components. For examination we study Shakespeare’ ‘The Tempest’ and August Wilson’s ‘Fences’; for the devised coursework unit Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’; As a group, the students will perform a section of ‘Things I Know To Be True’ by Andrew Bovell and a monologue or duologue from the text ‘Find Me’ by Olwen Wymark. The range of texts studied at A level supports students understanding of a range of texts that vary in date in preparation for progression into higher education.
The Department is committed to giving students, regardless of age or year, every opportunity to see the texts they are studying brought to life on the stage. To further develop our pupils’ appreciation of literature; girls have the opportunity to participate in the end of year whole school production. Also, every year, the House Arts Competition combines both drama and music. There is a lot of enthusiasm for these events. Senior girls take on much of the responsibility for directing, administration, and technical support. They carry these projects through with great style and initiative. In recent years, we have upgraded lights and other technical equipment. There is great interest among senior girls to run the technical side of the productions. In addition, students in key stage 3 can sign up to attend Drama Club each week, with performances being used in the annual Drama Showcase.