All the world's a stage. And all the men and women are merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts...
William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Drama an important means of stimulating creativity and challenging student’s perceptions about their world and about themselves. Dramatic exploration can provide students with an outlet for emotions, thoughts, and dreams that they might not otherwise have means to express. A student can, if only for a few moments, become another, explore a new role, try out and experiment with various personal choices and solutions to very real problems-problems from their own life, or problems faced by characters in literature or historical figures. This can happen in a safe atmosphere, where actions and consequences can be examined, discussed, and in a very real sense experienced.
At the centre of all Drama is communication. Like all the arts, Drama allows students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Perhaps more than any other art form, Drama also provides training in the very practical aspects of communication so necessary in today's increasingly information-centred world. Students who have participated in Dramatic activities are less likely to have difficulty speaking in public, will be more persuasive in their communications, both written and oral, will be better able to put themselves into others' shoes and relate to them, and will have a more positive, confident self-image.. Students in Drama will learn to work together, to cooperate, to find the best way for each member of a group to contribute, and to listen to and accept the viewpoints and contributions of others.
Key Stage 2
In Year 6, pupils engage in Drama as one of their English lessons once a fortnight and, as a result, the main focus of these lessons are speaking and listening skills and confidence building. They study:
- Three ways to ‘create’ drama – improvising, devising and script work. Out of these they learn to stand up in front of each other and use their imaginations on the spot, work together in groups to rehearse and refine their ideas and are exposed to a variety of different texts such as Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, A Christmas Carol and Frankenstein.
- Using some of the themes and texts they are studying in English, the pupils continue exploring creatively. Last year we used The Titanic, Room 13 and Where the Wild Things Are as our stimuli.
- As the year progresses the pupils are given more autonomy over their creative process and are expected to perform and evaluate each other’s performances on a more regular basis.
- They are also taught basic performing principles, such as positioning on the stage, vocal projection, the use of voice, face and body to create character and techniques such as freeze-frame and split screen.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7 and 8 the pupils have Drama lessons as part of their practical rotation with Technology, meaning they each get at least twelve weeks of the year studying the subject, during which time they have two lessons a week. This really allows the pupils to begin to develop their skills and to rehearse more coherently due to the regularity of the lessons. In Key Stage 3 (and 4) Drama is broken down into three main areas that the pupils must learn to develop: creating, performing and evaluating.
In Year 7 the pupils will study:
- An introduction to the genre and its place within theatre history
- The style of acting with over exaggerated, stereotypical stock characters
- Stage fighting
- Creating, performing and evaluating their own Melodrama performance.
- An introduction to William Shakespeare and his place within theatre history.
- An introduction to various Shakespeare plays, including Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Hamlet, The Tempest, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Comedy of Errors.
- The plays are approached both through creative exploration of the themes and through script work, unpicking and working with Shakespearean language.
- The lessons involve ‘actors in the rehearsal room’ techniques in which they are directed by the teacher and approach the text in a variety of ways in order to develop character and style.
- Theatre in Education
- An introduction to the genre and its place within theatre history.
- Consideration of its purposes and benefits.
- The pupils work in groups to create their own piece of Theatre in Education, exploring a topic of their choice. They must choose their theme, message and target audience and devise their play based on these factors.
- Pupils perform and evaluate their own and each other’s performances.
In Year 8 pupils will study:
- Stanislavski and Naturalism
- An introduction to the genre of Naturalism and its place within theatre history (particularly in reference to Melodrama).
- An introduction to Konstantin Stanislavski and his theories on acting.
- The pupils learn how to create character using Stanislavski’s techniques of ‘The Magic If’, ‘Given Circumstances’ and ‘Objectives’.
- Pupils learn how to approach a script using Stanislavski’s ideas of super-objectives and objectives in order to track their character’s journey through the script.
- Pupils rehearse and perform a script, using Stanislavski’s techniques and evaluate own and each other’s performances.
- Physical Comedy
- An introduction to the style of performance and its various forms throughout theatre history.
- An introduction to slap stick and mime skills in order to understand physical comedy.
- Pupils will study twentieth century comics such as Mr Bean and John Clees in order to examine what makes them funny.
- Pupils will develop their own comic skills through scenario and script.
- Pupils will have frequent opportunities to perform and evaluate their own and each other’s performances throughout the unit.
- As their final unit of work pupils will draw on all of the skills and knowledge of genre they have learnt over the last three years to create a piece of devised work of their choice.
- Pupils will explore the use of stimulus for devising and consider how that can guide their creative process.
- Pupils will perform their final piece and will evaluate their own and each other’s performances.