Drama and Theatre Studies

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 learn basic drama skills such as mime and improvisation, and work on radio plays, musical theatre, and Shakespeare.

In Year 8, they experience a range of theatrical styles and methods, from the ancient Greeks to commedia dell’ arte. They go on a day trip to the Globe theatre, which includes a tour and workshops. Every girl also participates in performances of condensed Shakespeare 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, farce, musical theatre, and physical theatre. They use political theatre to look at issues such as the suffragettes and homelessness. They also try their hand at script-writing.

At GCSE, pupils follow the Eduqas Drama course, which contains a significant practical element. The girls put on their own devised pieces as well as performances from text, which are chosen by the girls in consultation with the department. Recent choices have included Di and Viv and RoseThe Wasp and Shakers. Trips to live performances are a regular part of the course, and girls normally see eight or more plays during the two years, in addition to seeing performances through the NT Archive and Digital Theatre. There are also regular workshops with professional practitioners.

At A Level, pupils follow the Eduqas Theatre Studies course, which again highlights the practical side of the subject while maintaining intellectual rigour and a sense of academic enquiry. The course includes the chance to re-imagine a text for performance, and opportunities to study classics of theatre literature such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Hedda Gabler alongside more modern works such a Chimerica and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The girls are required to watch as much live theatre as possible, so there are regular trips to see some of the many exciting theatre productions available both locally and in London.

Beyond the classroom

The Thorndike Society is the girls’ live theatre club which organises theatre trips outside the syllabus. In the last few months, they have enjoyed trips to Running Wild at Regent’s Park, Oslo at the Harold Pinter Theatre, and Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman at the Gielgud Theatre. Lower school trips have included Goodnight Mister Tom at the Wycombe Swan and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking.

Girls can opt to take Extra Drama, which leads to the Trinity Guildhall examinations and beyond. Extra drama pupils in Years 7 to 9 put on a showcase of their Shakespeare work every year in the Rose Theatre, while the Year 10 girls perform contemporary pieces. The department also puts on ‘Plays in a Day’ in conjunction with local schools.

There are plenty of opportunities for girls to perform on stage. 2018 saw our main school production, Antigone, a studio production of The Secret Garden, the whole school musical The Wizard of Oz, a Year 7 and 8 production of This Changes Everything, and a junior school performance of Daisy Pulls It Off. Every year the Drama Captain directs a play of her own choosing, which this year was Out of Love. There is also an annual House drama competition, the entries for which are again directed by the Sixth Form Drama Captains. Year 8 put on edited Shakespeare plays every year, and the extra drama pupils stage An Evening with the Bard.