Because “all the world’s a stage”, Drama helps prepare students for their performances in life, whether on or off stage, developing vital skills such as the ability to communicate well and work creatively in a team. It’s a subject that teaches on many levels – from the physicality of movement and the exploration of emotions to the academic, intellectual and imaginative study of plays and theatre practitioners.
“All the world’s a stage”
In Drama at King’s, students are challenged bit by bit to step outside of their comfort zones and experience scripts, topics and issues that deepen their thinking and stretch their imagination. One of Bertolt Brecht’s favourite sayings was “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” meaning that the end result is what really counts. Our results are most important too – and the department’s outstanding record speaks for itself. But what’s also important is that our students enjoy and are enthusiastic about Drama, can develop a life-long passion for it, and learn to take great pleasure from theatre.
“Like theatre, drama in schools can unlock the use of the imagination, intellect, empathy and courage... It carries the potential to challenge, to question and to bring about change.” – Jude Kelly (theatre director)
All students enjoy one double lesson of Drama per fortnight from years 7 to 9. The syllabus is structured around the making and performing of Drama and responding to it, as outlined by Arts Council England, using their Drama in Schools levels for assessment. There are three formal assessments per year as well as an opportunity for a written self-evaluation at the end of each year. The course is practical and progressive, allowing for the development of skills needed for the start of GCSE Drama. Furthermore, all students are challenged to develop their communication, leadership and group working skills. Topics studied include:
- Key drama skills
- Creating a character
- Page to stage
- Physical theatre
- Rites of passage
“Drama is like life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock
There are certainly no dull bits for our students who choose to follow the Edexcel GCSE in Drama syllabus over two years. Students hone their performing skills in practical workshops, participating in both devised and scripted drama, then reflect on and evaluate their work through discussion and written coursework; they also develop their understanding of theatre with visits to West End shows.
The two coursework units amount to 60 per cent of the marks and require students to participate in a number of teacher-assessed workshops and complete a portfolio of documentary evidence. In Unit 1, students respond to given stimuli based on a theme (for example, Domestic Violence or Bedlam). Unit 2 involves the detailed study of a published play (such as Lorca’s Blood Wedding) and the evaluation of a live performance.
Unit 3 is an externally assessed practical exam which takes place in the Summer term of Year 11, representing 40 per cent of the qualification. Students perform either devised or scripted drama to an audience or offer performance support such as sound, lighting or costume design. Recent adaptations include Collected Grimm Tales, Find Me, Teechers, Shakers, Living with Lady Macbeth, Too Much Punch For Judy, Missing Dan Nolan, and Check Please.
The course involves a number of theatre visits. Most recently, students have seen The Woman In Black, Blood Brothers, Warhorse and The 39 Steps in the West End.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” – Oscar Wilde
Students can continue to study “the greatest of all art forms” by taking the Edexcel A Level GCE in Drama & Theatre Studies over two years. As the course title suggests, there is a stronger emphasis on the study of theatre on the A Level syllabus, including learning about its history, key practitioners, and a selection of the world’s greatest plays.
In Year 12, students explore two contrasting plays for Unit 1 – Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. They are required to participate in teacher-assessed workshops and complete a set of exploration notes based on their research and response to their practical work. They also attend and evaluate a live performance. In Unit 2, students perform a published play as a group. Recent plays staged include Playhouse Creatures, Psychosis 4.48, Terrorism and Equus. Additionally students also perform monologues or duologues from a different play. In Unit 2, students can offer a design skill – such as Franz who created the masks for Equus.
In Year 13, students create and take part in a performance of an original piece of theatre based on a teacher given stimulus for Unit 3. They are assessed on the research and development of their work, the final performance to an invited audience (as an actor or technician), as well as a written evaluation. Finally, Unit 4 is a written exam which tests students’ knowledge and understanding of our set text, Buchner’s Woyzeck (from a director’s point of view), and theatre history, and involves a visit to a live performance (usually a Shakespeare play) as part of their preparation.
Lessons take place in either the Drama Workshop or the Drama Studio, a purpose built “black box”. The Drama Workshop is an atmospheric venue that has been modernised and fully equipped with flexible staging, stage lighting and a sound system. There is also a well-stocked costume wardrobe and props cupboard. Throughout the year, a number of performances are staged in the Drama Workshop allowing students to showcase their work to friends and family.
The Drama department has a long history of leading highly acclaimed productions which have been staged in collaboration with many other departments including Music, Art, Textiles and Product Design. Recent productions include:
- Animal Farm
- As You Like It
There is also a Drama Club run by Drama prefects which meets weekly and puts on a lower school production in the summer term, most recently an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Twits.
Mr Matthew Holdsworth (MPH): Head of Drama Department
Miss Rachel Gilham (RG): Teacher of Drama