Drama is taught throughout the Senior School as a discrete subject and by drama specialists.
Girls have a one hour lesson of Drama once a fortnight in Year 7 and one hour once a week in Year’s 8 & 9. Drama is a very popular option at GCSE, AS and A level.
Drama is taught in a purpose built Performing Arts Centre. The Drama Studio itself has a sprung dance floor, full length mirrors along one wall, a computerised lighting system and full black-out facilities.
In the Autumn Term girls have the opportunity to audition for the house plays which are performed in front of the school just after half-term. A prize is awarded to the winning house and individual prizes go to the best performers in Lower School, Upper School and Sixth orm respectively. This year each house will be performing four different short comedies.
The Autumn Term also sees the main school production, which will be the award winning comedy The 39 Steps. Girls from all years are encouraged to audition and are selected on ability. Recent productions have included a Cabaret evening, An Ideal Husband, Annie Get Your Gun, Daisy Pulls It Off, Oliver, Little Women, Fiddler on the Roof, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Sound of Music, Pride and Prejudice (with boys from Harrow School), Animal Farm and Lady Windermere’s Fan.
Girls are also frequently asked to participate in productions by John Lyon and Harrow School, which are performed at the professionally equipped Ryan Theatre at Harrow School. Our girls have recently taken part in Our Country’s Good, Hairspray, A Chorus Line, Oklahoma, Copacabana, 42nd Street, Grease, (John Lyon) and Guys and Dolls, The Trial, Les Miserables and Crazy for You (Harrow School).
The Lower school production in the Summer Term provides the opportunity for Lower school girls to gain experience of performing and the commitment involved, as well as mixing with other year groups. Recent productions have included The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Room 13, Skellig, Secrets, The Willow Pattern, The Exam and Adventure Camp, Two Weeks with the Queen, Step by Wicked Step, The Tulip Touch and The Chrysalids. The production is open to girls in Years 7, 8, and 9.
In recent years we have had as many as four Drama clubs at lunchtimes, run for each individual year group, (sometimes two in Year 7). Girls take part in numerous activities including mime, improvisation, scripted work, as well as working towards a performance for parents in the Spring or Summer Term.
The Department organises numerous theatre trips and encourages visits from professionals. Recent workshops have included: a make-up workshop run by the BAFTA nominated Gilly Popham and a workshop run by the Donmar Warehouse Theatre and the acclaimed physical theatre company, Frantic Assembly. Recent theatre trips have included: The 39 Steps, Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Othello, A View from the Bridge, The Woman in Black, Roots and Once a Catholic.
In Drama, girls are encouraged to develop skills in a wide variety of areas associated with the theatre and their own personal development.
Whilst the majority of girls pursue their interest in acting through Scripted, Devised, Improvised work, Theatre in Education and Physical Theatre; others choose to focus on the design skills available which include make-up, costume, masks, sound, lighting, set design, puppetry, props, sound and stage management.
Practical coursework and performance constitutes 60% of their final mark. There is also a 1 hour 30 minutes written examination worth 40%, in which girls are required to discuss practical work completed during the course, write about a play text studied from a performance perspective, (currently Arthur Miller's The Crucible) and to revise and analyse a live theatrical production that they have seen during the course.
Theatre trips occur on a regular basis for all girls and are essential preparation for the written examination, as well as providing girls with ideas to inform their own practical work.
Girls are required to present practical work for two of the above options, each with a weighting of 30%. All options for coursework are divided into two parts:
In Year 10 girls will complete two "trial" pieces of practical coursework. This generally includes a scripted performance and a devised/improvised one. Girls are marked to GCSE standard and in theory these marks could be submitted. However, it is more likely that the options in Year 11 will be their final marks. Their best marks for each option are those which are sent to the board.
In Year 10 girls can see what is expected and needed in terms of rehearsals and the challenges that can be encountered when working as a group and how to overcome them.
Performance work will require girls to organise rehearsals in addition to their lesson time, either at lunchtime and/or after school.
We have been so pleased with the class overall and think her teacher is amazing as well as other staff whom my daughter has been in contact with this year.