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)
Throughout Key Stage 3 we explore a range of topics that are based on both fictional and real events to develop empathy and sense of self within both the School family and wider community. The topics we cover allow us to apply a wide range of theatrical techniques and concepts, developing an understanding that prepares students for the demands of GCSE Drama. These topics are:
- Mime and Silent Movie
- Darkwood Manor
- Greek Theatre
- The Hillsborough Disaster
- The Missing
“Drama is like life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock
Years 10 and 11 follow the AQA GCSE Drama specification. This course challenges pupils to have a strong theoretical and practical understanding of drama. This knowledge and understanding is assessed in the following ways;
Component 1: Written Examination (40%)
This 1 hour 45 minute examination tests the students' understanding of three main areas: Theatre Roles and Responsibilities, Set Texts and Live Theatre. Theatre Roles and Responsibilities requires students to understand the roles within theatres and their specific duties as well as the technical terms for different types of stages and the advantages and disadvantages of working with them. There are 4 one-mark questions which are multiple choice. The Set Text that we study is Blood Brothers. Students are required to have a directorial, performance and design (set, lighting, sound and costume) understanding of the play. Finally students are required to see at least one live piece of theatre, be it a professional or amateur production. They will be assessed on their ability to analyse a performance that they have seen, specifically focusing on either a performance or design perspective.
Component 2: Devised Performance (40%)
The devised performance requires students to create a piece of theatre based on a given stimulus. They are to work within groups of 2-6 and can specialise in acting, directing or one of the design disciplines. To support their performance, students must create a devising log. This devising log can be created in a variety of ways; essay, voice recording, video recording or scrapbook. Should students choose, it can be a mixture of the different methods allowed. The devising log documents how the initial ideas from the stimulus developed and changed throughout the process, evaluating the final performance and the process itself.
Component 3: Performance of Two Extracts (20%)
Students are required to perform two extracts from the same play to a visiting AQA examiner. The extracts that students perform will be an important moment in the play for either character development or plot. This unit has no coursework and students again can choose the specialism that they wish to focus on. In this unit students can perform monologues, duologues or group pieces.
In Year 10 students will start with a monologue baseline, focusing on a fictional event in a secondary school. Students will then go on to explore a range of practitioners and styles before being taught how to devise successfully and apply the styles they have been taught. In the Spring term, students will explore a range of stimuli before choosing one and starting Component 2. This unit will be completed before May half-term. Students will return to study the chosen set text, Blood Brothers. Students will read the text as a class before exploring it practically and developing the theoretical knowledge through classroom exploration and homework.
Students will begin to look at and practically explore a range of play texts to choose from for Component 3. When decisions have been made, students will start to rehearse their final pieces and an examination date will be decided between the school and the examination board. Throughout Years 10 and 11 students will be taught the skills for the live theatre section of the written examination. When students see a live piece of theatre with the School, they will be provided with a booklet that will structure their analysis of the play.
GCSE students will be invited on a range of trips and visits, watching both professional and amateur pieces of theatre around the local area and bigger cities such as Nottingham, Leicester, Milton Keynes and London.
“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
Years 12 and 13 following the AQA A-Level Drama and Theatre Studies specification. This specification requires an in-depth understanding of theatre and drama. This understanding is assessed through a 3 hour written examination, a devised performance and a scripted performance. Both the devised and scripted performances are supported by a working notebook and reflective log respectively.
We start Year 12 by looking at a range of theatre practitioners and companies that have shaped how we see theatre today. This is a foundation that students will take through to the two practical units as they must apply a practitioner or theatre company to both performances. In the Spring term, students will explore 2 different texts, workshopping and developing their interpretations inspired by a key practitioner. They will then explore a range of stimuli and develop a new piece of theatre for their devised performance. This is supported by a working notebook which documents their research, process and development of ideas. Running parallel to this, students will be studying A Servant to Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, an 18th Century Italian comedy based on the 16th Century Italian art form, Commedia Dell'arte.
In Year 13, students will study Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, a political comedy based on the first penal colony sent to Australia in 1787. As well as this, students will choose their final script extract which will be performed to a visiting AQA examiner; this performance will be between November and May. After the performance is complete, revision will be the main focus on both texts and the live theatre section of the written paper.
It is encouraged that A-Level students see as much live theatre as possible. We take our students on a number of trips throughout the year to ensure that they gain a wider repertoire of theatre styles and genres. Recent trips include Saint George and The Dragon, Comedy About a Bank Robbery and Antigone.
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
- Les Miserables
There is also a KS3 Drama Club run by Drama prefects and staff which meets weekly and puts on a lower school production in the summer term.
Mr Matthew Holdsworth (MPH): Head of Drama Department