Drama and Theatre
To ensure the emotional and physical well-being of all pupils.
To facilitate the growth of both academic and emotional intelligence.
To foster the concept of ‘a competence for all’.
To commit to whole school literacy improvements.
To expect high achievement and excellent behaviour in all aspects of the curriculum.
To communicate in an explicit and clear way the intended learning, the outcome of assessment and the ways in which targets can be formulated, achieved and exceeded.
To provide extra-curricular opportunities that develop the pupil’s growth as a person and which provide high quality experiences in preparation for higher education.
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
Drama and Theatre 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: ‘1984’ the set text study
In year 11 the actors study three components 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 1 piece of written work during the first two terms that will be completed as a portfolio. This work is marked by the teacher and moderated by Edexcel.
The practical projects in Year 11 are a group devised practical and a scripted extract practical from a play of our choice. The actors create and perform this work and are both examined and moderated. The actors are awarded an individual mark for their performance skills.
Students also sit a 1hour and 30 mins exam on their set text which is an adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.
Skills and Knowledge Checklist
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 two set texts: Peter Shaffer’s Equus and Lysistrata by Aristophanes.
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 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 text. They must also be able to realise the texts in light of the work of a chosen practitioner and 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 sit a written exam on their set texts and a 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 40% of the AS course, the remaining 60% is practically moderated or examined.
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% practical performance
40% written exam
A-Level exam board:
60% practical performance
40% written exam
Department Leader: Mrs V Cross (NPQSL, BA Hons Leeds University, PGCE Reading University)
Departmental staff: Mrs M Knox (BA Hons Liverpool John Moores University, PGCE Chester University)
What do students say about Drama and Theatre and the opportunities available within the department?
Shara Blamchard 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.’
Oliver H year 13 Theatre Studies discusses other opportunities he has enjoyed:
‘I feel I have started my theatre career in the best possible way at Helsby. I have had a range of excellent experiences including visiting Drama Further Ed courses to complete workshops to working with West End musical theatre actors in the West-End. The drama dept give excellent advice and coaching and this means we all progress onto the best places for drama and theatre in the future, for instance some of us are at ALRA, Mountview, Bristol Uni and I’m starting at The Hammond in September.’
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.
WWW, EBI and MNS’s are used to feedback to students about their written work. The subject teacher uses this written comment to highlight what went well (WWW) in the work and an area for development; even better if… (EBI). The students then creates their own MNS (my next steps) based on their feedback.
It is the policy of the Drama department to 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 but attend 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.
On Tuesday lunchtimes the Drama Studio is open to those who want to rehearse or develop their work. Drama KS3/4/5 students can come along to learn or develop extra skills that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn in lessons. This time 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.
“The skills and knowledge that you will gain from Tuesdays is very beneficial to your Drama lessons as they will help students to improve your ability and creative knowledge this in turn will help to improve your over-all grade at GCSE or A-Level. Aside from the theatrical progress, you get to know new people from the other classes and this can build confidence, which is essential for a successful Drama student.”
Written by Anoushka B Theatre Studies student
The School Productions
The whole school productions are biannually a whole school musical and then an original play created by the students in between. This year had actors from year 10-13 and the performances are took place in March. The school production was an adaptation of Cinderella and was raucous fun.
We also run a Christmas Showcase in our studio space of all the talent demonstrated in work throughout the year. Actors from years 7-13 take part.
The ARTS festival gives the lower school actors a chance to shine. The ARTS festival combines work from Music and Art with Drama in a celebration of the ARTS at our school. Students this year also took their ARTS festival work to the Liverpool Everyman Theatre stage where they were selected to be a part of the ‘Work Bard, Play Bard’ festival and opened the show.
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.