Drama is taught to all girls in Years 7 to 9. It is then an option at both GCSE and A Level.
In Year 7, the girls are introduced to a wide range of theatrical styles, live performances and basic stagecraft. This includes improvisation, mime and silent movies, and immersive long-form role plays.
In Year 8, they experience a range of theatrical styles and practitioners, including Rudolf Laban. They explore their use of voice and technical theatre in a project on radio drama. Every girl also participates in short plays that are presented to parents as part of the Year 8 parents meetings.
In Year 9, the girls learn about dramatic genres such as forum theatre and physical theatre. They use political theatre to look at issues such as the suffragettes and feminism, and in practical work they explore a range of contemporary texts.
At GCSE, pupils follow the Eduqas Drama course, which contains a significant practical element. The girls put on their own devised pieces in the style of a practitioner such as Bertolt Brecht or The Paper Birds Theatre Company. In addition, they complete a performance from a text chosen by the girls. Recent choices have included Teechers, Be My Baby and Find Me. Trips to live theatre are a regular part of the GCSE course, as well as streamed performances and workshops with professional practitioners.
At A Level, pupils follow the AQA Drama and Theatre course, which combines challenging practical performance with intellectual rigour and academic enquiry. The course includes the creation of a piece of devised theatre, accompanied by a written portfolio, and the exploration and performance of three extracts from contrasting plays. Previous extracts have included work by Tennessee Williams, Neil Docking, Steven Berkoff, Philip Ridley and Caryl Churchill. The written examination includes the study of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good, as well as the analysis and evaluation of a live theatre production seen during the course.
Trips to live performances are a regular part of the A Level course. Recent productions seen include The Life of Pi, Iphigenia in Splott and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. There are also regular workshops with professional practitioners such as The Paper Birds, Splendid Theatre and Frantic Assembly.
There are plenty of opportunities for girls to perform on stage and to support productions in backstage roles. In any academic year the department puts on at least seven productions in either our fully-equipped, professional-standard 400-seat Rose Theatre, or our intimate, fully-equipped black-box space, the Rufus Sewell Studio. Recent productions have included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antigone, The Wizard of Oz, The Wardrobe, Little Women, The House of Bernarda Alba, Jane Eyre and The Canterbury Tales.
Every year our Sixth Form Drama Captain directs a play of her own choosing. Recent productions have included Red by Somalia Seaton, Out of Love by Elinor Cook, and As We Forgive Those by Andrew Smith.
There is an annual House Drama Festival, the entries for which are directed by the Sixth Form House Drama Captains, and the pupil-led open platform A New Narrative, in which girls perform new and original material in a relaxed studio environment.
Taking advantage of its many close professional contacts, the department holds acting for camera and audition technique workshops with professional actors and casting directors. Girls also enjoy using our high quality video recording equipment to participate in our short film competition, in which House teams take control of all aspects of the film-making process from directing and editing to sound and costume.