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.
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 study a range of performance styles including both naturalistic and non-naturalistic techniques. We introduce students to the physical work of Frantic Assembly and Stephen Berkoff as well as studying performance through a text such as Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. In the summer term the Fourth form complete a Bronze Arts Award which involves selecting a skill from acting, costume, lighting or set design to create a piece of Theatre in Education. Alongside this they compile a portfolio which is then moderated and they receive a nationally recognised qualification from Trinity College London.
Lower School (GCSE)
The Drama GCSE course is split into three components incorporating both practical and written skills. At GCSE we follow the WJEC Eduqas specification which allows students to work practically as an actor or designer in costume, lighting, sound or set design. 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 performance 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.
Component 1: Devising Theatre 40% of GCSE internally assessed externally moderated.
This component requires students to work on a devised performance based on a given theme and linked with a practitioner or genre. Alongside the performance element students create a portfolio of supporting evidence which demonstrates the research, creation and development of ideas.
Component 2: Performing from a Text 20% of GCSE externally assessed by a visiting examiner
Students work on a performance from a published play text in a contrasting style to the one they study for component 3. 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, students will study a complete performance text and will approach their study as a designer, actor and director through both practical exploration and written preparation. For Section B students 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 WJEC 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 Studies 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 Frantic Assembly’s Othello, Shared Experience’s The Mermaid, Kneehigh’s Rebecca and Dead Dog in a Suitcase. We also have the students take part in a number of performance workshops led by professional theatre companies which in the past have included Gecko 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.