Head of Department

Mr J ScottPGCE, BA(Hons), MBA


Drama is such an important part of school life and many parents, pupils and staff are struck by how seriously the school approaches performance in all its forms. Many pupils have cited 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 solely spent behind a desk!

It is not just the keenest actors who choose to study drama at GCSE. In fact those who struggle with performing or confidence when in front of others can get a huge amount out of choosing the subject. There are many life skills gained as part of the course, mostly in face-to-face communication and teamwork. These are techniques that are useful in future life when giving presentations, in the workplace or at interview.

Please enjoy reading about Academic Drama at Cranleigh, and take a look at the Co-Curricular Drama page to find out about recent productions (where you will find reviews and photo galleries). Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you require any further information.

Fourth Form

In the Fourth Form pupils are introduced to performing and to theatre in various forms. The emphasis is on fun, mutual support and team work, and on learning what it takes to produce an effective piece of theatre. We begin the year with a study of improvisation to help pupils get used to thinking on their feet and performing in front of their peers, and then move onto physical theatre work in the second half of the term exploring the work of Frantic Assembly and Stephen Berkoff. In the Lent term, our Fourth Form pupils embark on a performance project which involves them creating a mini theatre company where they each take on a different role, whether that be actor, costume designer or lighting designer, and construct a script in the style of Theatre in Education. Alongside this they complete an independent portfolio which requires them to explore drama as an art form, and write reviews and share their skills with others. In the final term we study the play Blood Brothers both practically and theoretically, which culminates in the end of year progress test which takes the form of a performance using an extract from the play and a written paper where they explore the text as a director, designer and actor.

Lower School (GCSE)

The Drama GCSE course is split into three components incorporating both practical and written skills. We follow the Eduqas specification which allows pupils to work practically as an actor or designer with a 60% practical 40% written split. We spread the three aspects of the course across the two years. In the Lower Fifth we focus on Component 1 enabling pupils to spend the year learning the necessary skills to equip them with the tools to construct an original piece of theatre ready for performance in the summer term.

In the Upper Fifth our attention turns to the written paper, as well as the preparation for the second performance for Component 2 which is externally examined. For the performance element pupils work in small groups or pairs to produce a naturalistic style piece incorporating two extracts from a play. This usually takes place at the end of the Lent term. Meanwhile the written paper is studied alongside this to ensure pupils are fully prepared for the final exam in the Summer term.

Component 1: Devising Theatre 40% of GCSE internally assessed externally moderated.

This component requires pupils to devise a performance based on a given stimulus in a non-naturalistic style.  Alongside the performance element pupils create a portfolio of supporting evidence which demonstrates the research, creation and development of ideas. This usually takes the form of a video log with accompanying rehearsal video footage or pictures.

Component 2: Performing from a Text 20% of GCSE externally assessed by a visiting examiner

Pupils work on a performance from a published play text in a naturalistic. They must perform two extracts from their chosen text in groups of between 2 and 4 actors.

Component 3: Interpreting Theatre 40% of GCSE Written examination

For Section A of the exam, pupils study War Horse and answer a series of questions as a designer, actor and director. The play is explored through both practical exploration and written preparation. For Section B pupils are required to analyse and evaluate one piece of live theatre viewed during the course.

UPPER SCHOOL (a-level)

At A-Level we continue to use the Eduqas specification 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 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. As well as this a process and evaluation report is written in support of the acting process

Component 3: Text in Performance 40% written exam at the end of YEAR 2

During the 2 year course students will have studied their 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.

Trips and Events

Throughout the students’ time studying Drama at Cranleigh there will be many opportunities to see live theatre as part of their course. Some recent past productions have included Kneehigh’s Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Out of Joint’s Rita, Sue and Bob too, Come From Away, Les Enfant Terribles’ The Terrible Infants and The Trench. We also have the students take part in a number of performance workshops led by professional theatre companies which in the past have included The Paper Birds Theatre Company, Les Enfant Terribles, Shared Experience and Commedia dell’arte by The National Theatre.

Theatre Production Arts

Production Arts is the umbrella term for all areas of theatre production other than performing and directing. Students who choose to submit design work in place of performance will have the opportunity to use the extensive technical facilities of the department and to gain valuable hands-on experience working on a wide range of productions. BTEC Production Arts can be offered in the sixth form and is supported by the Theatre Manager to Subsidiary and 90-credit Diploma level.

Meet The Team

Mrs E R McGhee

Drama Teacher

Miss D F Chapman

Drama and English Teacher

Latest Photos