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 GCSE is divided into three components which each combine practical and written elements.
Component one: Understanding drama is examined through an end of course written paper ( 1 hour 45 minutes) worth 40%. 80 marks. This includes the set text, The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Live Theatre analysis.
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
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.
The GCSE course attracts a wide range of students and can lead directly to A Drama and Theatre Studies. We are currently running an AS qualification alongside the linear A Level for our most able students.
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 choose to 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 scripted texts both classic and contemporary alongside theatre devising processes and historical and modern 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.
For the new AQA syllabus we have arranged group trips to The Globe for King Lear and to Shoreditch Town Hall for innovative theatre company, Kneehigh’s production The Tin Drum. In alternate years we attend the National Theatre’s A level Study One-Day Conferences, featuring key academics invited to give lectures on their areas of expertise in Theatre Studies scholarship and current research. Students meet the director and creative team from the current production. They have an afternoon of observed practical workshops with National Theatre cast and musicians and we conclude by watching an evening performance. Examination essays will be chosen based on the productions seen on these visits.
Performance opportunities are integral as the assessed practical units, but also include opportunities such as the Schools’ Shakespeare Festival at The Gulbenkian Theatre, either as actors or technical production team. Lighting and puppetry research workshops with professional theatre makers, performers and technical designers and experts are held in the school studio during the summer terms and are integral to the knowledge and understanding of the A level course.
Skills developed through this A level course include collaboration, communication, adaptability, resourcefulness, while focussing on theatre knowledge and understanding which are core components of written examinations. This is featured in cultural awareness and nuanced articulation of imaginative, personal engagement though embodied, practical learning. Our set texts selected from the new 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), A Servant to Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni ,(1746) 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. 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.