Head of department: Miss Youens
Teachers: Miss Clube
The BGS drama department vision :
- To teach valuable transferable work and life skills through the unforgettable experience of creating theatre
- To foster a lifelong love of theatre and associated art forms
- To promote responsible learning, especially in terms of teamwork, independent preparation, and use of resources
- To maximise learning and achievement in GCSE Drama (and eventually A Level)
- To enable students to follow a career in theatre, TV or film, or to study the performing arts, if they wish to do so
We believe that drama is not only a full academic subject of study, but also a vehicle for great personal growth. It also has the advantage of being distinctly memorable because it is a total experience – visual, interpersonal, emotional and physical. What you learn by producing theatre is not always what you planned to learn, but it is always far more than you thought you would learn, and it sticks forever.
Drama across Key Stages 3 and 4
Students come to BGS with a huge range of different experiences of drama; around a fifth have never had a drama lesson, so the Introduction To Drama unit helps to get everyone up to speed, so that they can perform clearly without making any huge mistakes (no backs to the audience after this!). Then students are encouraged to be a bit braver and tackle Improvisation, which emphasises the value of ‘letting go’ in order to produce devised work which is truly creative. The Storytelling unit develops memory skills, valuable across the curriculum and throughout life, but it allows students to be directors too – and watching themselves back on video is a truly effective learning experience! Finally, some work on Conflict Resolution, including Augusto Boal’s ‘Forum Theatre’ technique, shows how theatre has uses beyond entertainment – it can genuinely improve how we behave and interact.
The year 8 course starts to introduce some more specific theatrical knowledge and skills, such as an understanding of different theatrical spaces like theatre-in-the-round in the Audiences and Spaces unit. Theatrical history is then explored through Masks and Greek Theatre, which requires students to design and make a character mask, and compete against each other in teams of around 10 to perform the tragedy of Agamemnon. Finally, the Performance Poetry unit reinforces what they learned in year 7 about memory and recall, so that students leave KS3 with a toolkit of transferable skills, even if they don’t choose Drama at GCSE.
Year 9 marks the beginning of the OCR GCSE course (ref. J316). Due to the fairly infrequent lessons at key stage 3, it is essential to build a base of GCSE-level skills before undertaking any exam assessment. Therefore, the year 9 course covers a wide range of theatrical styles, in order to introduce and reinforce key principles of performance, direction, devising and design. Students start with Physical Theatre, challenging their preconceptions of what performance should look like by imitating the work of theatre company Frantic Assembly. They then study theatrical conventions by looking at Pantomime and Shakespeare, relating them both to the key influence of Commedia Dell’Arte. The final two units, Naturalism and Expressionism, enable them to compare two very different styles in terms of acting and design. Alongside this, in one lesson per fortnight, they are introduced to the Live Theatre Review aspect of the written examination by watching and analysing a live theatre performance. This forms the end-of-year exam.
Year 10 begins with a unit on Improvisation, a key skill for devising and for text work. Students then have the skills to begin preparing for their first GCSE assessment, a devised piece produced from a choice of stimuli provided by the exam board. They begin studying one full play text for the Presenting and Performing Texts unit, which will be assessed in Y11. They will also spend one lesson a fortnight on Exam Skills, and by the end of the year they will begin preparing for a performance of their exam study text. The mock exam consists of another Live Theatre Review question, based on a trip to the theatre.
Much of the NEA (Non-Exam Assessment) takes place in year 11, but we believe the most effective way to workshop the play studied for the Performance and Response written exam is to put on a fully-realised performance, so year 11 starts with rehearsals for this, interspersed with more text-specific Exam Skills training. Then students complete their Devising Drama NEA, including a performance or design and a portfolio. They also produce a performance or design based on the text studied for Presenting and Performing Texts, and show this to a visiting examiner along with a written concept proforma.
Key Stage 5
A Level Drama and Theatre will be advertised at the Sixth Form Open Events in 2021, with a view to introducing the course to the first Year 12 class in September 2022. We will be delivering the OCR specification (course code H459). See the Subject Information sheet and Open Evening Video for more details.
All BGS students have the opportunity to audition for the November production, and auditions are held in late June of the previous year, or in September for new year 7 students.
Our student-led Drama Club is a real source of joy and camaraderie. Held every week on Tuesday lunchtime, it is open to all year groups and lets students build their dramatic confidence in a less formal environment. Games of ‘Freeze’ are very popular!
Theatre trips outside the GCSE course are organised on an ad hoc basis when there is a production available that could enhance students’ understanding of English or drama.
Watch out, too, for our monthly Theatre Club, which puts on after-school screenings of the plays on Digital Theatre Plus or National Theatre Collection, making the most of our new hall’s sound system and projector.