Students have the option to study drama in Years 9, 10 and 11 as a GCSE, with a series of taster sessions being introduced into Year 7 and Year 8 this year for the first time. Students that choose Drama love the practical nature of the course; much of the work is done in groups, exploring fascinating issues and independently creating a range of diverse performances. Students have the opportunity to experience being theatre makers, either as performers, directors or designers.
Drama is a subject that is valuable on so many levels – not only does it allow students to be creative and expressive; it also actively teaches many transferable skills. Successful Drama students are excellent communicators, they can work well in any size of group, can present ideas clearly and become great problem solvers and negotiators.
Year 7 and Year 8 Curriculum
This year we are delivering a four-week introduction to Drama for all Year 7 and Year 8 students. The sessions will be delivered by specialist Drama teachers through the English lessons, with an aim to support English speaking and listening, but also to give students a flavour of drama in lower school. We will be exploring short scripts and developing key performance skills in a practical and fun way.
Year 9 Curriculum
Year 9 students will experience a range of theatrical elements sectioned into five components that aims to give them a foundational year of the GCSE course.
Introduction to Drama
Students learn foundational skills that help to build a strong group dynamic and essential explorative strategies to broaden their understanding of how theatre is created. We explore areas such as improvisation, still image, thought tracking, narration, cross-cutting, flashback and multi-rolling.
In this component, we will learn how to be an effective communicator in performance.
Exploration of Practitioners
Students will study three different theatre practitioners. We will learn about Stanislavski and his systematic approach to create emotionally truthful performances on stage, followed by Brecht and his political style of theatre that wanted to educate audiences. We will also learn about Stephen Berkoff and his rather physical approach to theatre, focusing on using the actors’ bodies as a tool to communicate with the audience.
Page to Stage – Text Study
We will study one of the set texts, exploring the play practically from the perspective of both actor and designer.
In this component, students will explore and learn how to create original theatre from a variety of stimuli as starting points.
Year 10 Curriculum
In Year 10, we will build on the foundational skills developed in Year 9 and begin to complete some of the components of the GCSE course.
Contemporary Theatre Practitioners
We begin the year looking at different inspiring theatre companies that are current and modern, such as Kneehigh Theatre and Frantic Assembly. We will explore their performance styles and look at how their work can inspire students’ own devised work. At some point in the year we will aim to visit the theatre to see a contemporary theatre company at work and use this performance for students to develop their performance evaluation skills.
Presenting and Performing Texts
In this component, students will spend time further developing their acting or designing skills and prepare a performance of two extracts from a play for performance. Written skills are further developed with students writing a performance proforma that details their approach to character development.
This larger component of work, in which students will create their own original piece of theatre in small groups, will be assessed as part of their final GCSE Drama grade. They will draw together all the skills they have learnt on the course so far, responding to a given stimulus, and creating a unique piece of theatre. A written portfolio (20 pages of A4) is created that documents and evaluates the journey of how the piece took shape throughout the rehearsal process.
Year 11 Curriculum
In this final year, students will complete the remaining two components to the GCSE Drama course having completed the devising component in Year 10. Much of the year will be spent honing in their written analysis and evaluation skills in preparation for the written exam in May.
Presenting and Performing Texts
Students will study a play as a small group, developing an understanding of the plays context and characters and selecting two extracts to perform to a visiting examiner. Students are assessed on their ability to communicate character through vocal and physical means. There is also a design option in this component. A written proforma is also completed that informs the examiner of the students approach to the role.
Performance and Response
This is the written component that concludes the Drama GCSE. Students will study a set text as both actor and designer. They will develop an understanding of the plays social, cultural and historical context and develop their own approaches as to how the play might be performed and visually presented. They will respond to a series of questions in a written exam in May.
Live Theatre Evaluation
We will see a Live Theatre production that students will learn how to evaluate and form opinions of in preparation for the larger 30 mark question in the written exam.
There is a tradition of excellent whole school productions in the Drama department, ranging from musicals such as ‘Bugsy' and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ through to last year's dark comedy `The Witches' by Roald Dahl and the previous year's classical rendition of `A Midsummer Night's Dream'. All the students from across the School are invited to join the Drama department as we launch our Drama productions this year, whether they are interested in a performance role or performance support. Being a part of our production team, on or off stage, is a valuable experience for any student. It can help in developing their creativity, confidence, leadership, problem-solving and team work skills.
Over the course of their GCSE, we aim to ensure that students see a number of plays to give them a first-hand appreciation of actors’ skills as well as fostering a love of theatre. In the past, we’ve visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London to experience a production of ‘Twelfth Night’, one of the Bard’s more comedic plays. As a Department we have strong links to local theatre and production companies, and we have brought a number of professional actors into School to deliver workshops and acting sessions to all our Drama students.
HELEN WHITE, Subject Leader for Drama