Drama is an appreciation of global art forms. It is the ideal vehicle to foster personal confidence, independence and communication skills. We are dedicated to excellent teaching, which seeks to encourage learners to work independently, inquisitively and become artistic risk takers: we facilitate our students to unleash their potential!
Effective communication in the 21st century is at the core of academic and work success. We instil skills of leadership, compromise and persuasion as we promote articulate and balanced young people, able to appreciate the merits of other people’s work. We value excellent performances, be it entertaining or moving. But equally we value those who construct thoughtful pieces of drama alongside those who evaluate what they have seen.
There are many opportunities for students to participate in enrichment and extra-curricular activities. There is a popular weekly Drama Club for Key Stage 3 students. Drama prefects enjoy extra opportunities to stage performances during the school year which complement our whole school productions. This year the Drama prefects staged ‘Face Your Fears’. Our more recent productions have included ‘Grease’, ‘Alice Through a Broken Lens’ and `Bugsy Malone’.
Students have recently performed an abridged version of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at The Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke as part of the ‘Shakespeare Schools Festival’, followed by participating in ‘Potted Austen’, an open air performance in Alton’s Public Gardens. We visit the theatre regularly and in the last academic year have arranged trips on seven occasions, both to the West End and to local theatres in Southampton.
KEY STAGE 3
Year 7 introduces students to the concept of staging theatre from the eyes of a director. After the initial baseline assessment the core areas of focus are narrative, character, status and proxemics. These subject areas allow a full exploration of storytelling before investigating the skills necessary to construct thoughtful and believable characters. We explore practitioners such as Constantin Stanislavski, Peter Brooks and Frantic Assembly and introduce students to world of theatre that broadens their horizons.
Year 8 builds on the foundation laid in Year 7. Students further explore characterisation in the autumn term by staging scenes from Shakespeare. Students are introduced to symbolism and developing the contextual understanding of a text. Students continue to plan the use of lights and sound to enhance their performance. As well as this we feel it is important to embrace British Values with a Brecht project every summer term to explore what it is to be British in the contemporary age.
Year 9 allows a focus on essential skills to prepare students for the current GCSE assessments. This starts with a baseline assessment where students learn a short script in two weeks and are immediately assessed in front of the class to check how they measure against the GCSE framework. The teaching that follows uses either ‘An Inspector Calls’ or ‘The Crucible’ to build acting skills to improve that baseline grade. A devising project follows that explores practitioners that allow students to question and analyse structure of contemporary storytelling to allow their own acting and directing to excel. There is also plenty of opportunities to experience live theatre from digital theatre to theatre trips. Live theatre forms part of the exam assessment and is integral to the structure of the course. As the year concludes there is further exploration of scripted text to build exam skills with work on Willy Russell’s ‘Blood Brothers’.
KEY STAGE 4
At Key Stage 4 we further the study from Year 9 with a more intensified exploration of theatre companies such as Gecko, Frantic Assembly as well as further work on Berkoff, Brecht, Brook and Stanislavski. The exploration of naturalism and non-naturalism is supported with theatre trips to see contemporary theatre that inspires and influences practical work throughout Year 10 and 11.
Live Theatre constitutes 40% of the written exam. This makes it essential and therefore compulsory to attend one of our theatre trips. This is so students can answer the exam question whilst sharing this experience with peers and their teacher. The theatre trips cover a wide range of styles and are not always conventional. This has had an inspirational influence on our students’ work, with some outstanding productions.
The set text for the written exam (until 2021) is `Blood Brothers’ which is explored practically with an analysis prepared to show an understanding of context, character development and the acting skills required to play the main roles.
The final assessment requires the students to perform two extracts of a professionally produced script. This can range from classical contemporaries such as Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter through to more recent practitioners such as Tim Firth, Caryl Churchill, Mark Ravenhill and Phillip Ridley. This is assessed later in the year by an external visitor as part of Component 3.
The students are assessed by the AQA exam board, with three core assessments:
Component A: Written Exam (Set text and live theatre analysis)
Component B: Devising Theatre (Coursework & performance)
Component C: Scripted Performance. (Two extracts from one play, solo, duologue or small group)