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Drama & Theatre Studies

 Drama is part of the English syllabus for the Thirds: one lesson each week is given to practical Drama.

The course involves exploration – spatial, mental and emotional – and is based on truthful observation. Girls begin with individual activities, then move on to, first, pair-work and then work in small groups. Underpinning the lessons is a programme of skills on which the girls are assessed at the end of the year, but girls should not be aware of this: they tend to see the lessons as fun, and think they are playing games, though each week covers a different exercise.

What it is NOT is a programme of ‘elocution'; nor is it particularly concerned with performance skills, nor with making speeches. Work from Drama lessons should feed into school drama in other ways: there is an annual inter-form competition where form-groups choose and direct a short play, an extract from a longer play, or even write their own adaptation from another medium, to be performed on the School Birthday to the whole of the Lower School. There are competitive dress-rehearsals at which the best four or five plays are selected to be performed.

Drama and Theatre Studies is available in the Sixth-form, at AS and A level.

Staff

Drama and Theatre Studies is taught by Mrs Oakley and Mrs Phillips. Dr de Bono is in charge of the Inter-form Drama Competition.

Photos of our Latest Productions

The Sound Of Music

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Skellig

Sixth Form Drama

Guys & Dolls

Much Ado About Nothing

Amadeus

Curriculum - A level

A level Drama and Theatre Studies

Like our sister school, we teach the Edexcel AS and A2 Drama and Theatre Studies course. Structured in four modules, this course is assessed via both practical and written coursework, and examinations. These take the form of examiner-assessed performances in the first year, and a final written paper at the end of the second.

By the end of the course, pupils will have looked at a variety of plays from different periods and genres from both an analytical and a creative perspective. They will be able to evaluate live theatre with an insider's experience and they will know a great deal about the way theatre developed and is made. They will also have well-developed interpersonal skills: this course, perhaps more than any other, requires girls to work together with respect, trust, imagination and tact.


Unit 1 requires the exploration of two plays from contrasting periods and genres via a series of teacher-led workshops. This practical work is complemented by a written evaluation of eight key elements:

  • Language
  • Non-verbal Communication
  • Vocal Awareness
  • Characterisation
  • Social, Cultural, Historical and Political Context
  • Visual, Aural and Spatial issues
  • Response to a Theatre Practitioner
  • Interpretation

A third play is seen live in the theatre and a written review submitted in the same coursework portfolio. In recent years we have studied Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and either Kindertransport or Amadeus, the latter choice to coincide with the main school play, in which all Theatre Studies students were involved.

Unit 2 requires pupils to perform in a teacher directed play and to study and perform a monologue or duologue from a second play. Both performances are assessed by a visiting examiner. Plays that we have used in the past for assessed performances at AS Level have included: Art by Yasmina Reza, My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley, The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson, Alan Ayckbourn's Woman in Mind, Polly Teale's adaptation of Jane Eyre and Diane Samuels’ Kindertransport adapted by Kate Oakley.

Unit 3 requires pupils to build on what they learned at AS by devising an original piece or adapting an existing piece of scripted drama to create a completely new play of about twenty minutes' duration. The entire creative process from conception to performance is assessed, and the final piece is directed as well as devised and performed by the pupils themselves. In previous years we have steered our pupils through both options at A2, resulting in pieces such as Cry Witch a powerful adaptation of Miller's play The Crucible for just four actors, The Innocent Sleep based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, When Maiden's Kneel adapted from Measure for Measure and Puck You!, an irreverent take on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Devised projects have resulted in pieces entitled The Good Wife and The Trouble with Alex.

Unit 4 challenges pupils at the end of the course to explore two plays from different periods of theatre history. One of these is prescribed by the board; the other must be seen live, and compared with the way it has been staged in earlier periods in the development of theatre. The play seen in live performance will usually be by Shakespeare.


Beyond School

Girls who have studied Drama and Theatre Studies at A level in recent years have gone on to read Drama and Leeds and Manchester universities, as wells as other subjects such as English, Psychology and Art Foundation courses.

Beyond the Classroom

The department makes maximum use of the school's central location and arranges a number of evening theatre trips. These support the A level Theatre Studies course, but are also open to other pupils and staff. We have been to see Stockwell at the Tricycle Theatre directed by Old Girl Sophie LifschutzOthello at The Trafalgar Studios, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, Present Moment's innovative production of Dr Faustus, and a one woman show based on Carol Ann Duffy's poetry collection The World's Wife.

Whole School Production

In the Autumn Term, there is a whole school production, which is directed by Mrs Oakley and is open to girls in the Upper Fourth and above. Sometimes this might be a musical, such as Cabaret, or it may be a modern classic play such as The Crucible, or a Shakespeare play, such as Much Ado About Nothing.

Girls audition for parts in September and the cast rehearses at lunchtimes and after school. The quality of production is extremely high, with professional standards of lighting, sets, costumes and props. The department is very proud of the quality of the performances achieved.

Junior Plays

In the Summer Term, there is an opportunity for the Lower School girls to perform in an evening of mini-plays. These are open to girls from the Thirds and Lower Fourth. In the past, the evening has included excerpts from The Play of the Diary of Anne Frank, Daisy Pulls it Off, Much Ado About Nothing and Ayckbourn’s Invisible Friends. These plays are adapted and directed by three members of the English department. The plays are performed over two nights to audiences of family and friends.

Inter-form Drama Competition

This annual competition involves every form group in the Lower School directing a short 20 - 30 minute play of their choice. This can be an extract from an existing play or an adaptation. The girls are completely responsible for the direction and production of this performance. They perform in year group heats after school and the finalists from these heats go forward to perform in the final which takes place on the School Birthday. The final is judged by an invited judge and various prizes are awarded, including the coveted Best Play trophy. This competition is run by Dr de Bono.

Junior Drama Club

This weekly club is run by Mrs Phillips and is open to girls in the Thirds and Lower Fourth. This is a lunchtime club where girls enjoy drama games but also learn key techniques and how to hone their performances. Girls who attend Junior Drama Club often go on to audition for the Junior Plays.

Speech and Drama lessons are available to all girls and are delivered by a specialist Drama teacher.

Theatre Studies Workshops

To complement the girls' lessons, we have invited specialist speakers to come in to school to work with our Lower Sixth Theatre Studies students. 

Theatre Trips

The Theatre Studies groups are invited to join theatre trips organised by the English Department, such as Othello and Macbeth; in addition they have their own trips designed to expose them to a wider range of theatre techniques, styles and genres, and which they review as part of their Unit 1 coursework. 

Forthcoming Productions

Narnia

Adapted from C.S Lewis' novel by Kate Gabriel and Anya Bentwood, this will be performed by the Junior Drama Club on Wednesday April 27th at 1.25pm.   This informal student led production costs 50p to see.  Lunch passes are available from Mrs Phillips.


Step by Wicked Step

This is adapted from her own novel by Anne Fine and directed by Mrs Oakley, with help from Mrs Phillips. This is the Junior Drama production 2016 and there will be two performances on Thursday June 23rd and Friday June 24th, both at 6.00pm.    Auditions are open to all girls in the IIIrds and Lower IVths and are being held at lunchtimes in the last two weeks of the Spring Term, and girls can sign up and find out more about the production on the Drama Noticeboard.


The Sound of Music

This will be the next major musical production in conjunction with the Music Department, directed by Mrs Oakley and Mr Patterson.   There will be three performances on Weds, Thurs and Fri, Nov 30 – Dec 2nd 2016, each starting at 7.00pm.   Auditions are open to all girls who will be in Upper IV - Upper VI in September, and are being held at lunchtimes at the start of the Summer Term, between Thurs April 14th and Tuesday April 19th.   The cast will be expected at work on their roles, learning music and lines during the summer break, and rehearsals will start as soon as we return in September.  This is the second Oakley-Patterson project, and we are very excited about it.  Our previous joint show "Guys and Dolls" in 2014 sold out on all three nights, so put the date in your diary now! Tickets will go on sale after half term. 


 

No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Samuel Beckett

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