Drama from Years 7-13 at The Langton builds a range of vital life skills, notably; confidence, creativity and cooperation. These are learnt through practical Drama exercises and the study of professional theatre productions. Lessons focus on developing individual confidence and group communication skills, sharing creativity, broadening imagination and practising self-reflection. In KS3 every boy has a weekly lesson of Drama in small classes which cover scripted narrative work from Beowulf and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time. Improvisations, physical theatre training and mask work all explore non-verbal communication, help to build trust and cooperation and develop a wider cultural understanding of current theatre styles.
Trips to The Globe Theatre and The National Theatre in London, as well as to smaller London venues are a regular part of the Drama experience to support the curriculum and as extra-curricular enrichment. We organise after school visits to The Marlowe and Gulbenkian Theatres in Canterbury several times a year and our students perform at The Gulbenkian Theatre as part of the annual Shakespeare Schools’ Festival. Visiting theatre companies, academic researchers and expert practitioners deliver specialist workshops at The Langton to GCSE and A level pupils to extend their knowledge and learning beyond the examination syllabus, and this helps students to produce work of the highest standard.
Drama GCSE is an exciting and enjoyable course which gives students a practical and theoretical grounding in the dramatic arts of British and European culture. Students work creatively through practical and academic tasks exploring devising processes, play texts and theatre history. Students comment on increased levels of self-confidence and the new friendships they make in what is a group-based subject where developing communication skills is a central focus. Lessons and performances take place in the well-equipped Drama Studio (A1) and in our new rehearsal space The Box. Parents are invited to join the class to make an audience for the assessed projects which take place after school hours in A1.
The course is designed as a series of performance projects giving ample opportunity to develop drama skills in acting and technical production. Projects include scripted duologues, a devised Christmas Pantomime for a year 7 audience and small group performances of larger set text extracts. Devising theatre alternates with text-based drama projects. Each project includes written tasks during the process and after performance when the students evaluate their own work.
Devising describes a variety of methods which students use to make their own theatre. This includes script-writing and improvisation. There is freedom within the course for students to choose the themes they explore and the plays they stage with close guidance from staff.
Theatre visits are arranged to local and London theatre venues to enable students to develop their theatre review skills. This year we have visited the National Theatre, The Globe Theatre and both Canterbury Theatres. Joining these visits is an essential part of the course and we do have to ask parents to contribute towards the costs of theatre tickets and transport. Theatre visits, rehearsals and performances often take place after main school hours.
Teaching methods include a combination of individual and group based activities which involve collaboration with other classmates. Performance is a significant part of the course and students may choose to develop their skills as actors or opt for a technical option such as lighting, set, costume or sound design.
Drama is taught at KS3 for one hour a week in our specialised and well equipped teaching spaces A1, The Studio and C2, The Box. Students can opt to take the GCSE Drama course and later, A-Level Drama and Theatre Studies is available to all students on entry to the sixth form. The department has three teaching staff members, Miss Taylor, Mrs Passfield and Miss Kitt.
Drama at KS3
The KS3 course is primarily a practical and physically active experience for students and focuses on developing collaborative working skills, building student confidence levels and public speaking skills through drama practice. Students explores contemporary themes, theatre styles and theatre history, learning how to develop and structure narratives and characters for presentation to an audience. Each unit offers performance and review opportunities, exercises the imagination and creativity. Technical theatre skills are taught and students learn to select lighting designs and operate the lighting boards, use sound for performance and make set design choices. The use and handling of costumes and properties are part of a number of units including acting with masks.
Drama clubs are run at lunch for each year group and students produce plays for performance to parents and friends throughout the year both scripted and devised. The Department also runs the ARTS AWARD qualifications, Bronze, Silver and Gold for students to develop their individual interests, project planning and leadership skills in the Arts.
Unit 1: Seven Ages of Man and Shakespeare’s language: Exploring Tableaux, character and mime
Unit 2: Once Upon a Time: Story-telling and Beowulf (Seamus Heaney translation) using prepared improvisation and mime
Unit 3: Pompeii: Prepared improvisations, creating historical context and using flash-backs
Unit 4: Page to Stage: Contemporary theatre texts and staging different theatre styles
Unit 5: Creating Adaptations: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time explored
Unit 6: Improvisation Devices Explored: Props, costume and character
Unit 1: Elizabethan Comedy: Creating magic on stage and staging the Mechanicals.
Unit 2: Film and Silent Movies: Mime and music to create a silent movie for film
Unit 3: Ghost Plays: Dramatic tension, lighting and sound. Devising a Ghost play
Unit 4: Melodrama: Page to stage. Sweeny Todd and Maria in the Red Barn
Unit 5 / 6: Ancient Greek Theatre: Staging Oedipus on the Amphitheatre and The Chorus
Unit 1: Physical Theatre and Ensemble Skills: Based on Augusto Boal
Unit 2: Shakespearean Tragedy: Hamlet, interpretation and delivering a soliloquy
Unit 3: Professional Theatre: Analysis and Review Skills
Unit 4: Masks: Physical acting and improvisation with music and Trestle Masks
Unit 5: Public Speaking: Rhetoric, famous speeches and individual presentation experience
Unit 6: Devising Theatre: Small group play making – Environmental themes explored
Drama at KS4
The Drama GCSE is divided into three components which each combine practical and written elements. AQA 8261
Component one: Understanding drama is examined through an end of course written paper ( 1 hour 45 minutes) worth 40%. 80 marks. The set text is The Kneehigh Company’s adaptation of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ – a political, anarchic comedy about resilience and courage. This is assessed in a written examination with an analysis of a Live Theatre production seen as part of a school trip. There will be at least three theatre trips during the course, so the students will select their preferred production for the examination question.
Component two: Devising Drama is examined through a devised theatre performance ( 10%) and a written devising log worth 30%. 80 marks. Marked by the teacher and moderated by AQA
Component three: Text in practice is examined through performances of Extract 1 ( 10%) and Extract 2 ( 10%). 50 marks. Marked by AQA visiting examiner in a live evening performance in the Spring term of Year 11. Parents, family and friends are invited to create the audience.
Professional Theatre Workshops with local experts:
Drama at Langton Boys is proud to have excellent links with local theatres, Drama practitioners and research academics. We invite Drama experts into our lessons to provide free expert workshops in a wide range of Drama skills from acting to lighting and puppetry. This is hugely enriching and exciting for the students.
Homework includes research, written evaluation, reading and line-learning tasks, as well as lunchtime and after school rehearsals in preparation for assessed performances.
Excellent attendance to class and commitment to group work is essential as frequent absence disrupts practical work for other students.
After GCSE Drama?
This course develops creative thinking skills, personal confidence and group work. It prepares students well for A levels in a wide range of humanities subjects and also helps A level scientists improve their presentation skills and more effective communication skills. GCSE Drama can lead directly into A level Drama and Theatre Studies, which is a helpful subject for university applications to study degrees requiring innovative thinking, collaborative working and independent confidence.
The GCSE course attracts a wide range of students and can lead directly to A level Drama and Theatre Studies.
Drama and Theatre Studies at KS5
Drama and Theatre Studies is a challenging subject which combines academic study with practical workshops and assessed performances. Students can focus on acting or technical theatre and are assessed through end of year written papers, portfolio evidence of creative processes and practical performance projects. The weighting of the assessment is 50% practical and 50% written. The course explores a wide range of classic and contemporary play texts alongside theatre devising processes and theatre practitioners. Experiencing live theatre is a significant and essential part of the course and evening visits to a range of venues in Kent and London are arranged throughout the year to which students are expected to join. Examination essays will be chosen based on the productions seen on these visits.
This year we started the course with a visit to The Globe seeing a production of Othello followed by a visit to the Gulbenkian Theatre to see the devised piece Medusa by the physical theatre company Jasmin Vardinom. When appropriate for the course we attend the National Theatre’s A level Study One-Day Conferences, featuring key academics invited to give lectures on the performance to be seen in the evening.
To develop performance and technical skills the course includes performance opportunities such as the monologue evening and presentations of practical work to invited audiences. The department produces a school play each year, based on material related to the course, for which students are invited to audition.
Our set texts from AQA syllabus are: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, by Bertolt Brecht (1948); Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, (1988); Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, (1891) and guided choice of late 20th century and 21st theatre scripts for the student-directed Texts in Practice unit.
Studying Drama and Theatre requires students to collaborate effectively in groups, develop their self-awareness, exercise their creativity and develop communication and presentation skills. High levels of engagement, self-motivation and reliability are central to success in this subject. Students are required to research thoroughly the context of texts studied including plays which are seen for live theatre analysis. We are fortunate to have two purpose-built studios as our classrooms, which students can book for rehearsals during study periods and after school.
Drama and Theatre Studies offers opportunities to develop knowledge of the theatre arts, essay writing skills and self-confidence. The course is ideal for students looking to study at University, Drama School and those wishing to build a career in the Arts Industries. Drama and Theatre Studies combines particularly well with English, History and Music while some students opt for the Year 12 course as a contrast to their other learning environments. It is possible to offer the AS course within the A level course for students who are required to take certain subjects for career choices such as medicine but wish to continue to study drama at A level. If you are new to Drama and Theatre Studies, please do come to the school open evening to discuss what the course might offer as part of your sixth form experience. It is not essential to have studied GCSE Drama to take this A level course.