Drama is offered as:
- Core subject Years 7, 8 & 9
- GCSE Option Years 10 & 11
- A Level Subject - Drama and Theatre - Year 12 & 13
Opportunities for participation in extra-curricular Drama activities include a lower school lunchtime Drama club run by the Drama Prefects, Shakespeare Schools Festival, Mock Trial and other festivals / competitions.
At the end of the summer term we present a whole school musical theatre production. Recent examples are a punk fairy version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Superspy!” based on the theme of James Bond.
Performance and live theatre experience are key to studies in Drama. KS4 and KS5 students are given opportunities to showcase their work to a live audience with their performance assessments. Additionally, a number of theatre trips are arranged for each year group, as it is important to show Drama students the world of theatre. Recent trips have included:
- KS3 Students: The Comedy about a Bank Robbery, Slava’s Snowshow, The Play That Goes Wrong
- GCSE Students: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, DNA, Things That I Know to be True, Hairspray
- A-Level Students: Lebensraum and Mother from The London International Mime Festival, V-Tol’s Out of This World, Lysistrata
Drama - Curriculum Intent
Drama at Beaconsfield High School focuses on learning through play. The intention is for students to engage in a range of performance techniques in a safe environment where playfulness, risk taking and conscious decision making is celebrated. By the end of Year 9 students should:
· Have a sense of their own skills as a performer, understanding how they choose to communicate to an audience
· Have a sense of the contribution of a range of theatre practitioners including Brecht and Boal
· Have a sense of exploring a text – understanding the value of “workshopping” a text to secure an interpretation that can be communicated to an audience
Years 7, 8 & 9 Drama
Year 7 Drama - One Hour Lesson per Week
In Year 7 Drama, the focus is on learning through play and exploration. Students will develop confidence in working in groups, sharing ideas through performance and learning some of the appropriate language of theatre-making.
Term 1 offers the students the opportunity to develop basic performance techniques, particularly focusing on:
- use of still image
- mime and ensemble physical theatre
- direct address to the audience / narration
- creating a character through voice and movement
You will also gain a sense of how to “work” an audience through stillness, focus, body language and an awareness of the performance space. Students will explore a range of themes based on classic fairy-tales and stories. This will end in a mini-assessment of a group performance of an updated pantomime.
In Term 2 the focus is on telling stories primarily through mime and physicalisation. Students will choreograph their own movement sequences to short pieces of music such as the “Mission Impossible” theme to create a bank heist story. You will also develop an understanding of the history of Commedia Dell Arte and the use of comedy character masks. You will be working as part of a group using skills in:
- synchronisation of body movements
- sloppy mime and accurate mime
- clear facial expressions
- controlling your body movements
- developing meaningful physical motifs or signatures for characters
- matching your movements to music
You will be working towards a mini-assessment of a group movement piece where we are particularly interested in your group and team-building skills.
In Term 3 we will be focusing on the use of the voice in Drama. We will be working on poems and excerpts from plays in order to develop your use of the following vocal skills:
- controlling your use of volume of the voice
- controlling your use of tone of the voice
- controlling your use of pauses in your vocal delivery
- controlling your use of pace in your vocal delivery
- using the voice to create shifts in emphasis and atmosphere
- holding an audience’s attention through your voice
You will be encouraged to learn some poems and speeches off by heart and consider how best to perform these both vocally and physically, but with a particular emphasis on the vocal skills. You can choose to work independently or in pairs to show your interpretation of a piece of work from your choice. Texts covered will include “Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington”, a wealth of Roald Dahl poems and some speeches from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
In this term, we will also be focusing on developing evaluating skills; you will be encouraged to consider how to use the language of drama to express your responses to your own work and the work of others.
We offer a lunch-time drama club for Year 7 students where the focus is on having fun and playing drama performance games. We will be offering a Year 7 drama trip to see a West End show; in the past we have gone to see “The Play that Goes Wrong” or “Comedy about a Bank Robbery.”
You are also encouraged to take part in the summer school musical theatre production where rehearsals take place after school. Last year’s production involved the mayhem of the fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; this year we are working towards a James Bond theme with our show, “Superspy!”
YEAR 8 – One Hour Lesson per Week
In Year 8 students continue to learn through play and exploration, but we do start to look more closely at some established Drama texts.
In Term 1 you will look at the work of Augusto Boal and Forum Theatre where the audience are encouraged to interact with the work of the actors in order to solve problems.This will be a group based activity where you will be encouraged to develop the following skills:
- Spontaneous improvisation / thinking on your feet
- Direct address to the audience
- Using still image to create impact
In the second part of this term we explore the subject of “What is normal?” where we tell the story of a boy who thinks he has turned into a giraffe. This is tied in with the subject of theatre of the absurd and the comedy of menace. Particular skills that will be developed include:
- Stillness in your performance
- Ensemble clocking
- Focus to create tension or the comedy of menace
In Term 2 you will explore the text of Oscar Wilde’s outrageous comedy, “The Importance of Being Ernest”. This belongs to the genre of the comedy of manners. Here we will consider how body movement, facial expression and use of voice combine to create comedy characterisation. This will be a key opportunity to learn a script and perform an extract from the play for assessment. Particular skills that you will be developing include:
- Controlling your body movement and posture to create character
- Using proxemics to communicate character relationships and status
- Controlling the tone, volume, pace and use of pauses in your voice
- “Working” the audience with your use of space and eye contact
- Learning your lines for a precise script
In Term 3 we explore some aspects of a Shakespeare text, mainly through play and improvisation. We enter students in the Shakespeare School’s Festival and this term is part of preparing students for the opportunity to audition for this as well as learn about ensemble and physical theatre approaches to performing Shakespeare.
YEAR 9 - One Hour Lesson per Week
In this year we are trying to get you to think like a GCSE student. You will be examining the influence of some key theatre practitioners and exploring some play texts with a view to thinking about how they can be approached as performer, directors and designers.
In Term 1 students explore the text of Durrenmat’s “The Visit”. This is a gruesome story and encourages students to work in groups on creating comic tension. We work through a range of one-off workshops looking at different moments in the script and then ask you to create your own version in preparation for an assessed group performance. In this term you will develop skills in:
- Devising performance ideas
- Creating larger than life characters through voice and movement
- Creating tension through clocking, stillness and focus
- Evaluating your own work and the work of others
In Terms 2 and 3 students focus on the following areas:
- The work of Willy Russell in creating comic realism
- The influence of Brecht in creating educational theatre
- The work of Stanislavski and Mike Leigh
- Women in Theatre
You are given a wider opportunity in this term to take responsibility for your own development within a group. Some students may decide to work more as performers, whereas others may wish to further explore the directing or designing side of the work that you create.
Year 10 and Year 11 - GCSE Drama
Drama is offered as a GCSE option. We follow the syllabus offered by Edexcel.
You will be working towards formal assessment in Year 11:
20% Practical Exam Performing two extracts from one set text. In this section the students are very much directed by the teachers in terms of appropriate characterisation and interpretation. These performances will take place in Year 11 (around March) and are externally assessed by a visiting examiner.
10% Devised Performance We will start this in the summer term of Year 10, ready for performance in the Autumn Term of Year 11. Students will be given a stimulus by the teachers who will guide the devising process and direct some aspects; students are encouraged to develop and shape their own ideas for the final performance.
30% Written/videoed presentation Reflecting on the creative process of preparing a devised performance. Students may prepare a written document to a maximum of 2000 words, or may video record their observations over an edited 8-10 minute presentation. It is possible to offer a combination of the two.
40% Written Examination Reflecting on a live theatre production and an unseen extract from a selected play – likely to be “DNA” by Dennis Kelly.
Throughout year 10 we will be consolidating a range of performance skills including the following:
- Direct address to the audience
- Naturalistic acting
- Ensemble work / clocking
- Applying choreographed movement to devising
- Offering variety in the voice
- Developing characterisation through non-verbal communication
In Year 10 we will be developing text analysis skills through the reading of the play “Shakers” by John Godber. You will perform some extracts from this as part of your first informal assessment.
Students start their study of the play “DNA” in Year 10, but formal preparation towards the written exam will continue into Year 11.