Drama is such an important part of school life, and many parents, pupils and staff are quickly struck by how seriously the school approaches performance in all its forms. Indeed, many pupils cite the standard of drama at Cranleigh as one of the reasons that they chose the school. Academic Drama affords pupils an opportunity to study in a different way, and students certainly value having a number of lessons per week that aren’t spent behind desks!
All pupils study drama in the fourth form, in small groups of around ten. The fourth form course introduces pupils to performing and to theatre in various forms. The emphasis is on fun, mutual support and teamwork and on learning to perform.
It is not just the most keen actors who choose to study drama at GCSE. In fact, those who struggle with performing or with confidence when in front of others can get a huge amount out of it. Those who are keen actors can ensure that even as their busy extra-curricular timetable fills up over the course of their time at school, they can always have some drama built in to their timetable. There are many life skills gained as part of the course, mostly in face-to-face communication and teamwork. These are techniques that will be useful when giving presentations, or in interviews.
Please enjoy reading about academic drama at Cranleigh, and take a look at the Drama page to find out about performance spaces, staff and recent productions (where you will find reviews and photo galleries). Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you require any further information.
Nikki Plowman (Head of Drama)
Drama at GCSE
The Drama GCSE course is split into two elements, 60% practical and 40% written examination. At GCSE we follow the WJEC specification which includes three main areas of study. Firstly students work on a devised performance based on a theme and linked with a practitioner or genre, a variety of which are studied during the course. During this project they will write a supporting report which assesses their ability to reflect on the process of rehearsal. Secondly, students work on a performance from a published play text in which they will be assessed on their acting or technical skill. Finally the third unit is a written exam for which students will study a set text and learn to analyse the piece from a performance perspective. It should be noted that students do not have to follow an acting path for their GCSE in Drama; it is possible to learn and work with technical skills such as lighting or sound either as well as or instead of acting. Importantly, the GCSE in Drama will develop valuable life skills in face to face communication and teamwork in addition to skills in acting/technical and analytical writing.
The course is run consecutively so that students repeat the process of preparing both a devised and scripted performance as a trial run in the lower fifth and then for the examination in the upper fifth. In the lower fifth focus is placed on introducing the style required for the devised report and the written examination so that this can be revisited in the upper fifth. We find this process of repetition means that the students are far better prepared and take a more direct, effective, creative approach in the upper fifth having learnt from and evaluated the difficulties they found with the process in the previous year.
Drama & Theatre A-Level
At A Level we continue to use the WJEC Eduqas specification studied at GCSE which is designed to promote a balance between practical theatre making and the theoretical understanding of drama and theatre. This stimulating and engaging course encourages learners to make connections between dramatic theory and their own practice. The Drama and Theatre course is split into 3 components which equate to 60% practical with supporting evidence and 40% in the final written exam. Again, as with the GCSE course it is possible for students to choose to be assessed on a technical/design skill rather than acting.
Component 1: Theatre Workshop 20% of A Level internally assessed in YEAR 1, externally moderated
Students are required to create a piece of theatre based on an extract from a text using the techniques and working methods of either an influential theatre practitioner or a recognised theatre company. They are given the freedom to devise and reinterpret the text. Alongside this they produce a creative process log which details the research and development of the piece and can take the format of prose, sketchbook, PowerPoint, video log, blog etc.
Component 2: Text in Action 40% of A Level externally assessed in YEAR 2 by visiting examiner
Students produce a scripted text performance and a devised performance for examination on the same day. A devised piece using the techniques and working methods of either an influential theatre practitioner or a recognised theatre company (a different practitioner or company to that chosen for Component 1) and an extract from a text in a different style chosen by the student. Students then produce a process and evaluation report within one week of completion of the practical work.
Component 3: Text in Performance 40% written exam at the end of YEAR 2
During the 2 year course students will have studied two set texts, one pre 1956 and one post 1956 in preparation for the written exam. As well as this they will also study an extract chosen by the exam board from The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time. They have 2 hours 30 minutes in the exam to answer three 40 mark questions which will require them to think as a director, actor and designer.