Key Stage Three Curriculum
Year 7 introduces students to the core strategies needed to create drama, which are then explored through a range of issues, events and theatrical style. During Year 7 students follow a scheme focusing on basic drama skills such as mime, movement, proxemics, hot-seating and role play. Themes explored are: “Gran” exploring stereotypes in character and role play. Skills covered included teacher-in-role, whole group drama, spoken thoughts and freeze frame; “Two Islands” which examines themes of environment and figures in power. Skills developed are the use of public meeting and whole group protest; “Darkwood Manor” is a more mysterious theme, which explores working in role as a whole group and using music, lighting, sound effects and physical theatre to create tension. Pupils focus on developing plot and character from the beginning and are assessed regularly to monitor their understanding and development.
Year 8 begins with the unit “The Wrestling Princess”, which explores gender expectations. Skills include overheard conversation, whole group drama and forum theatre. The genre of Silent Movies is a key topic which looks at the use of physical theatre, mime, exaggerated movement and understanding of stock characters and simple plot. The topic of “Humpty Dumpty” is used to learn about different performance genres such as Murder Mystery, Melodrama and Greek Theatre, Soap Opera and Farce. Other topics develop skills and drama techniques such as the creation of plot and characters, hot-seating, teacher-in-role, spoken thoughts, cross-cutting and good angel/bad angel. Pupils continue to be assessed each half term.
Key Stage Four Curriculum
2016 sees the launch of the new GCSE Drama specification. This comprises 40% devising, where students are expected to devise and create their own performance to be presented and assessed. They also build a written portfolio covering the creating and developing process. 20% of the examination is the performance of a published play script and 40% of the course looks at the study of a set text and how this would be translated into a performance.
Students are expected to undertake at least two theatre visits per year to support their understanding of performance and theatre techniques.
A Level Curriculum
The AQA AS and A2 provide students with a diverse range of plays to study. The demands of the A Level course develop the student into a director, performer, costume designer and lighting technician to allow a rounded and thorough approach to the arts. Two performances will be undertaken, in AS a performance of an existing script and at A2 an original devised piece based on a strong theatrical style.
Drama enrichment is extremely popular amongst students and provides many opportunities to get involved both onstage and off.
The highlight of the drama calendar is our annual whole school production which alternates between a play and a musical. Our recent successes have been “The Jungle Book” in 2016, “Daisy Pulls It Off” in 2015 and “Oliver!” in 2014. This year we are staging “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in March. We encourage participation from students with all interests, not just performing, and nurture skills in lighting, sound, backstage support and makeup.
Outside of our main production there are two drama clubs available for pupils to attend at lunchtime - one for KS3 and one for KS4 and above These are designed to build students’ confidence in performing and to allow them an opportunity to express their creative sides in a fun environment.
We have also been able to offer our students a range of workshops. Most recently, the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company came to Teesside High School and treated our Theatre Group members to a practical exploration of their work. Recently the production of “Fish Eye” presented a workshop on performance and Lucy Wray from School House Arts delivered a workshop to GCSE students on devising.
We also offer private lessons in Speech and Drama which are highly popular. These allow our students to perform in local festivals and competitions, and also to complete their exams with the London College of Music.
All this is supported with opportunities to visit the theatre, which foster a love of the stage in our students.
Where might the subject lead?
Drama is a versatile and far-reaching subject. The subject give a thorough grounding for those who wish to study drama at university or drama school with a view to a job in the arts as actors, directors, teachers or technicians. However the collaborative and creative nature of the subject, and the presentational skills acquired mean that the qualification supports many other paths such as psychology, business studies, media studies and music. Recently, professions such as Medicine and Law have expressed a desire for applicants in these areas to have some sort of drama and performance background to better allow them to communicate and empathise.
Our School drama productions are a fantastic showcase for our students’ talents. They are very popular among students of all ages and provide many opportunities to get involved both onstage and off.
The School drama studio houses smaller productions and audiences at our GCSE and A Level performances have the chance to experience a more intimate theatre experience.