The great acting teacher, Stella Adler, tells us:
“The word ‘theatre’ comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life.”
It is the act of standing in someone else’s shoes, of understanding their experiences and feelings and thought processes, that helps us to understand the world we live in. In Drama we encourage pupils to work with empathy, curiosity and bravery as they develop their own creative impulse. They devise their own work, interrogate script, develop their characters, and they consider the social, political, cultural and historical context in which theatre is conceived. They act, they devise, they direct and they design. And whilst we celebrate Drama as an art form in its own right, pupils have the opportunity to develop a whole host of wider skills: time management, resilience, creative problem solving and the ability to both compromise and defend their own ideas.
In Drama, we take our work seriously, we commit fully, and we have enormous fun.
Drama is taught to all pupils through Years 7, 8 and 9. They develop their stagecraft, considering their use of voice and movement in approaching character and situation. They complete solo, paired and group performances, and explore a variety of styles, genre and topics through a theatrical lens. These include silent movies and radio plays, Greek theatre, non-naturalism, Laban’s Eight Efforts of Action, contemporary playtexts, Augusto Boal and his Theatre of the Oppressed, and commedia dell’arte. At the end of Year 7, a performance of scenes and extracts from the plays of Shakespeare are presented to parents on the lawn of the Old Deanery.
We follow the AQA specification, a highly enjoyable and course. It consists of three components.
Component 1 (40%)
Written exam, which requires pupils to analyse a set text and analyse and evaluate a piece of live theatre
Component 2 (40%)
Devised theatre, in which pupils work in small groups to create and refine a piece of theatre from a stimulus. They also write a piece of coursework, charting the process from first ideas to final performance.
Component 3 (20%)
Performance of a text, in which pupils work in small groups to perform extracts from a published playtext.
We follow the AQA specification, a dynamic and rigorous course that stretches both practical skill and intellect. There are three components, following a similar structure to the GCSE.
Component 1 (40%)
Written exam, which requires pupils to study two contrasting set texts and to analyse and evaluate live theatre. There is a particular focus on the social, cultural, historical and political context in which each of these plays has been conceived.
Component 2 (30%)
Devised theatre, in which pupils create, from a stimulus, a piece of theatre in the style of a recognised theatre practitioner or theatre company. They also complete a piece of written course, analysing the process of theatre making.
Component 3 (30%)
Texts in Practice, in which pupils explore three contrasting extracts from published playtexts, of which one is presented as a piece of assessed performance. pupils also complete a Reflective Report, articulating what they learned from the process.
See Sixth Form Curriculum here for full details of our A-Level Drama course.
The Drama Department present a range of public performances throughout the year, both in our own Powell Theatre and at the Courtyard, which enables pupils to experience performing in a large professional theatre. This includes a senior play and senior musical in alternate years; a yearly play for Years 8 and 9; and a smaller-cast studio play for older pupils. Previous productions include acclaimed performances of Fiddler on the Roof, The Jungle Book, Oliver!, Macbeth and Treasure Island. Pupils not only perform, but also design and operate sound and lighting for the productions, and design and construct set, props and costumes.
We also offer pupils opportunities to work with professional theatre companies, such as Frantic Assembly, Splendid Theatre and The Paper Birds, through regular workshops and talks. We support auditions for companies such as the National Youth Theatre or the National Youth Theatre of Wales, as well as auditions for prestigious drama schools and universities courses such as Mountview, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Exeter University.
We also arrange trips to a variety of different theatres to see a wide range of productions. Recent trips have included Frantic Assembly’s Othello, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Blood Brothers. The department has access to the National Theatre Live streaming service for schools, hosting NT @ HCS viewings in the Powell Theatre throughout the year.
Many pupils also take part in LAMDA Speech and Drama lessons. We have a proud history of outstanding results, and there is a performance evening in the summer term so that every student who wishes to perform publicly for family and friends is able to do so.
We are always looking to further improve our provision, and welcome ideas from pupils for ways to extend their experience in the subject.