Drama and Theatre
Key Stage 3
Drama in year 7 is about developing the skills to access the Drama curriculum in later years.
Year 7 actors are taught the basic rules of the stage and the most useful techniques to help in the creation of work. The young actors are encouraged to understand the importance of confidence and how it affects their achievement in all walks of life.
Other skills developed are the actors ability to keep to strict time limits, to organise and co-operate in this time limit, to contribute and develop ideas to group work, to rely on others in performance and to theorise about the world in which we live.
Other skills developed are the actor’s ability to keep to strict time limits, to organise and co-operate in this time limit, to contribute and develop ideas to group work, to rely on others in performance and to theorise about the world in which we live.
Year 7 actors keep a drama diary which they write in every lesson. This diary plots their progress through the schemes of work and keeps a record of all their learning. This diary travels with them throughout year 7, 8 and 9.
The projects studied in Year 7 are as follows:
- Term 1: An Introduction to Drama
- Term 2: Story-Telling and Multi-Cultural Theatre/ Physical Theatre.
- Term 3: The Victorians/ Script work.
Drama in year 8 is about understanding the industry of performance and the Theatre as an Art form. Year 8 actors learn about theatrical style and genre as well as about the medium needed to complete the theatrical experience e.g. Costume, lighting, props and sound design.
In Year 8 the actors produce their own ensemble performance which is costumed, lit etc…
This gives the young actors experience of being in a rehearsed play. The students then watch themselves performing and evaluate their success. The Drama curriculum is progressive, meaning that the skills learnt in year 7 are essential in order to be successful in year 8.
Year 8 actors keep a drama diary which they write in every lesson. This diary plots their progress through the schemes of work and keeps a record of all their learning. This diary travels with them throughout year 8 and 9.
The projects studied in year 8 are as follows:
- Term 1: Mime/ Mask
- Term 2: Melodrama/ Characterisation
- Term 3: Stage Medium/ Play-Making
Drama in year 9 is about developing the young person; personally, socially and spiritually. The actors create work which helps them to understand the world around them and their part in it. The aim of each of the schemes is for the year 9 actors to pose questions, hypothesise and analyse events and issues which have direct relevance to the way in which they are growing as young adults.
Year 9 actors are asked to take on the role of protagonists or influential characters in their lives as a way of understanding the actions or opinions of others. The students use their new insight to enact new, more successful relationships or outcomes.
It is the department’s intention to promote this learning through the use of a selection of influential plays.
Year 9 actors keep a drama diary which they write in every lesson. The diary plots their progress thought the schemes of work and keeps a record of all their learning. This diary is given to them at GCSE level and is a useful tool for written work in year 10.
The projects in year 9 are as follows:
- Term 1: Language/ Gender
- Term 2: Shakespeare/ Waiting for Godot
- Term 3: The Media/ Super Hero
Key Stage 4
Actors in year 10 study the finer detail of creating theatre. They are taught the individual techniques needed to gain marks in their devised work and are expected to understand in great depth the effect their work has on their audience. The actors produce work inspired by difficult and real life situations and events from the world both past and present and produce theatre which communicates clearly a desired message.
The work produced must show the actor’s ability to form and structure theatre using the techniques taught whilst also educating the audience about the play’s content.
Students have a larger version of the drama diary in which they record their progress and learning. Written work is even more important at this stage in the actor’s training and actors use the written word to articulate the intelligence behind their work.
The work in year 10 develops the skills needed for the examinable projects that begin in year 11.
The projects in year 10 are as follows:
- Term 1: Introduction to Drama at GCSE level.
- Term 2: Victims and Victimisation/Childhood
- Term 3: Mirad, a boy from Bosnia/Group practical.
In year 11 the actors study three papers each of which count towards their final GCSE grade.
The teacher will collect evidence of practical/ verbal achievement during each lesson: formative assessment.
The students will complete 3 pieces of written work during the first two terms that will be completed as controlled assessments (coursework completed in lessons under exam conditions). These pieces of coursework are marked by the teacher and moderated by Edexcel.
The final project in Year 11 is the group practical. The actors create and perform a devised play and are examined by an external examiner. The actors are awarded an individual mark for the performance skills.
The projects in year 11 are as follows:
- Unit 1: a devised project based on an historical injustice. 1 x controlled assessment.
- Unit 2: a scripted project based on a visited live performance. 2 x controlled assessment.
- Unit 3: a devised group practical based on a given theme.
Key Stage 5
A-Level Theatre Studies is the academic study of Theatre. The course ensures students attain a broad knowledge of texts, practitioners and genre whilst also giving them the opportunity to study a chosen practitioner and style in detail. The course allows students to study classical theatre as well as more contemporary and experimental theatre. The practical element of the course is supported by a carefully constructed written essay which details the actor’s practical processing understanding of the theory behind their work.
Actors in year 12 study one set text: Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and one live professional performance which changes from year to year.
Lessons take the form of practical workshops but an even greater emphasis is placed on the written word. Actors must be able to articulate their understanding of their set text in the written form. They must understand the playwright’s intentions, the effect of the text’s social and historical context on their understanding, and the way modern audiences will receive the text. In addition to this they must be able to communicate the ways in which they would perform or direct the text to highlight their understanding. One exam question is sat on this set text.
Actors will also sit an exam question on the live production that they have seen; they will explain how the director used performance skills and or elements of production to communicate the essential themes and issues of the text.
Both written papers make up 60% of the AS course.
The remaining 40% of the AS course is a practical performance accompanied by a set of supporting notes. The performance will take the form of selected moments from a published play and will be performed in the style of a chosen practitioner. The performance will be externally moderated with the supporting notes. The supporting notes are the vehicle in which the actors prove their understanding of the chosen practitioner’s ideas and techniques. The actors will stage, light, costume and sound their production.
Actors in year 13 study two set texts: Wertenbaker’s ‘Our Country’s Good’ and Wilde’s ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’. Lessons take the form of practical workshops but an even greater emphasis is placed on the written word. Actors must be able to articulate their understanding of both their set texts in the written form. They must understand the playwright’s intentions, the effect of the text’s social and historical context on their understanding, and the way modern audiences will receive the texts. In addition to this they must be able to communicate the ways in which they would perform, direct and stage the texts to demonstrate their understanding. One exam question is sat on each of the set texts.
Both written questions make up 60% of the A2 course.
The remaining 40% of the A2 course is a practical performance accompanied by a set of supporting notes. The performance will take the form of a devised piece based on a chosen theme and showing understanding of a chosen theatrical style. The performance will be externally moderated with the supporting notes. The supporting notes are the vehicle in which the actors prove their understanding of the ideas and techniques featured in the chosen theatrical style. The actors will stage, light, costume and sound their production.
GCSE Exam Board:
- 60% written controlled assessment
- 40% group practical
- Specification: http://www.edexcel.com/migrationdocuments/GCSE%20New %20GCSE/UG030946_GCSE_Drama_Spec_2012.pdf
A-Level exam board:
- 60% written exam
- 40% group practical
- Specification: http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/pdf/AQA-2240-W-SP.PDF
Head of Department:
- Mrs V Cross (BA Hons Leeds University, PGCE Reading University)
- Miss S Loudon (BA Hons Salford Universit, PGCE Chester University)
What do students say about Drama and Theatre and the opportunities available within the department?
Jess Moffatt year 13 Theatre Studies Student, discusses her passion for the subject:
‘Howard Barker is a prolific playwright and he once said, ‘We must overcome the urge to do things in unison’. He constantly aims to provoke personal reactions from his audience, not one shared experience but a vehicle to promote individual thought. This attitude toward theoretical creativity is also my passion and a passion I have been able to develop in my studies of theatre at Helsby. Theatre is an art form. It is humanity’s way of exploring the world around us and without theatre I feel that many questions, which have proved enlightening, would have been left unasked.
Modern theatre is expeditious in its re-invention and is an exciting place to be. It is my desire to work in an industry which embraces such creativity. At Helsby I have been involved in a range of opportunities both academic and practical, all of which have helped hone my skills and prepare me for application to Drama schools and universities.’
Jenny Murphy year 13 Theatre Studies discusses other opportunities she has enjoyed:
‘I recently took part in filming our school prospectus with a professional camera crew in which we put a modern twist on Juliet’s monologue from Act 2 scene 3 of Shakespeare’s play, by performing as a group monologue and as a teenage Liverpudlian girl, apparently love-struck and obsessed with her Romeo and her mobile phone. We performed Juliet’s words in insincere unison to comment on the concept of ‘young love’ and ‘shallow modern teenagers.’
Homework In Drama
- Home work is set every two weeks at KS4 and 5. And is marked and given back in a two weekly period.
- Homework is marked using the Helsby School marking policy and will always be awarded a grade for effort an achievement mark/ grade.
- Two stars and a wish. The subject teacher will also write a written comment highlighting two (stars) positive achievements in the work and an area for development (‘I wish you had done this….’).
- It is the policy of the Drama department to only set homework that is purposeful and necessary to aid progression in this subject.
The well established Drama Club is still going from strength to strength. Drama club is for all students in year 7, 8 and 9 who are interested in learning about and extending their drama skills. The club takes place on Monday lunchtimes in the drama studio. The club is a drop in so anyone can come and it doesn’t matter if you miss one week and come the next. Students create original work based on topics such as emergencies or mistaken identity and use such techniques and genre as Melodrama or thought-tracking. All students have fun in this friendly and energetic environment. During the summer term all year 7, 8 and 9 students get the opportunity to audition for the lower school production.
The New GCSE Skills Club
On Tuesday lunchtimes in the Drama Studio, Drama GCSE students can now come along to skills club where they can learn extra skills that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn lessons. GCSE Skills Club is very valuable to students, as they can take all the new techniques and information and use them to improve their work in Drama lessons.
At GCSE Skills Club, you learn many different techniques and genre of acting, which will contribute to your already expansive knowledge in the subject and students will also learn all about different drama practitioners, which you don’t normally get the opportunity to learn about in lessons until A Level.
The skills and knowledge that you will gain from the club are very beneficial to your Drama lessons as they will help students to improve their ability and creative knowledge this in turn will help to improve their over-all grade at GCSE. Aside from the theatrical progress in GCSE Skills Club, you get to know new people from the other GCSE classes and this can build confidence, which is essential for a successful Drama student.
Written by Lorna McAvoy L6 Theatre Studies student
The School Production: Alice’s Library
The school production this year had actors from year 7-13 and the performances are took place in March. The school production was an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Students were very excited about the use of Promenade theatre (where the audience follow the actors to new performance spaces during the play) this provided the challenging opportunity to be creative with the spaces available at our school.
The play featured sections from well renowned plays which Alice witnessed with the audience. The carefully chosen plays provided Alice with a cathartic experience which helped her to manage her own feelings about her modern family.
Written by the 6ixth Form Drama Committee.
Sixth Form Drama Committee
The 6th Form Drama Committee has been formulated this year as a way of giving sixth form students the opportunity to experience life as a member of a theatre company. The sixth form students applied by application and were selected based on their experience of Theatre and their letter of application.
The students have a number of school and public bookings including a performance at the Helsby Christmas Party for elderly community members and a performance at Chester Cathedral as part of the Holocaust Memorial day 27th January at 7:30pm. The group have been lucky enough to receive funding for their projects and are excited about the possibilities that this opens up to them.