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Devonport High School for Girls

Head of Department

Mr T Newman, NPQML+, BA (Hons), PGCE

Statement of Intent 

Drama makes learners of us all by offering an integral view of society. It delivers meaning to its students, purpose to its performers, and understanding to its audiences. All the while challenging society to reflect upon itself and the world we have created. 

 Drama instils a passion for the Performing Arts and teaches the students at DHSG to explore performance skills, enhance academic skills, and refine interpersonal skills. Our students have a dynamic and ambitious curriculum evolving from the foundations of KS2 skills and knowledge, leading to a framework of knowledge and skills, deliberate practice, and self-evaluation in KS3. This allows further building blocks based on theatre history, influential practitioners, and the ability to operate as an actor, director, and designer in KS4. Consolidating all this knowledge and theorising on the psychology of the character, conceptual vision of the director, and the thematic choices of the designer equip students as active practitioners encompassing all the above in KS5. 

With a reflective and academic approach to all aspects of the course, we aim to explore both process and performance theatre. Process theatre being the progressive tradecraft where students actively learn skills as they engage with stimuli, explore techniques in rehearsals, and devise scenes all to learn in the moment. Performance theatre being the traditional approach to starting a production and working with a stimulus or script, developing acting, directing, and designing skills with previously learnt techniques to produce a completed performance for assessment, analysis, and evaluation. 

We take as many students to theatre as possible during their time at DHSG, believing that the cultural investment deepens and broadens minds and benefits the students in all aspects of their learning and of their life. 

Contribution to School Curriculum 

Drama’s place, both in lessons and in the wider extracurricular program, is to offer an incredible set of skills vital to all students’ social, cultural, historical, and political (SCHP) education during their informative schooling years. We pride ourselves on being a modern subject that explores any human need or issue through the medium of performance and reflect the learning from many other curricular subjects such as English, History, Psychology, Music, Dance, to name a few. 

Drama brings value to students using their brain uniquely, introducing them to alternative learning methods. We balance adaptive and critical thinking with an open and creative mind-set needed to not only envision a performance, but to access the skills and knowledge as an actor, director, and designed to see the idea of the performance become a production. 

Many of the practical and academic skills practised and refined within Drama compliment many other subjects, such as an investigative analysis and evaluation of one’s performance has pedagogical links to a scientific experiment in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, whereupon the student will analyse and evaluate their findings. 

It is the positive performance pressure and individual resilience our students embrace that reinforces the self-belief and confidence we see in cycle assessments and GCSE examinations. Coupled with desirable 'soft skills' our students present themselves as confident, purposeful, and communicative individuals, which are the qualities further education and future employers require. The students are increasing their chances for success in future interview prospects such as university and employment opportunities, by applying their learning beyond the classroom and using it for real world purposes. 

Extracurricular 

At DHSG we make sure that all students have access to drama through a bi-annual large-scale musical production, such as Bugsy Malone, cast, rehearsed and performed to the highest possible standard. Students from year 7 to year 13 were involved in acting, singing, dancing, backstage management, lighting, sound, props, costume, and set design to produce a truly memorable experience for all. In the desire to create as close to a professional experience as possible for our students, we perform with a live band to accompany the performance and radio mics to showcase our amazing talent. 

On the opposing bi-annual year we present a Sixth Form production performed at the Plymouth University theatre to create further access for our students to experience, in a first-hand manner, the reality of the profession in acting, directing, and designing, which can be a uniquely developed, and originally devised performance or a play script that is re-interpreted for a modern-day audience. 

A student favourite, also on the bi-annual Drama extracurricular calendar, is the ‘Theatre Land’ London residential trip. This comprises 3 days and 2 nights of backstage tours of the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, whilst seeing a play at the National Theatre such as Phaedra, a play at the Globe Theatre such as Tutus Andronicus, and West End musical such as Matilda. This once in a lifetime experience provides our students access to the country’s best Live Theatre that they will need to analyse and evaluate in their Component 3 written exam, but offers incredible aspiration for those students who wish to pursue a career within the performing arts. Not only is this a wonderful cultural experience in the country’s capital, it is also an opportunity to view the career paths that branch out from Sixth Form, university, and apprenticeships within the professional world of drama. 

A Level Course Outline

The aim of the Theatre Studies course is to develop your interest and enjoyment in drama and theatre both as active participants and as informed members of an audience, fostering an enthusiasm for, and critical appreciation of, the subject. The course involves approaching performance texts in a variety of ways, as a performer, designer and director. Students also study a range of performance styles and key practitioners, such as Artaud, Brecht, Berkoff, Frantic Assembly, Le Navet Bete, and Stanislavski. Students create their own devised work based on a stimuli from Eduqas/WJEC, whilst also performing an extract from a chosen play. Students also complete a third practical task, which involves re-interpreting an extract from a chosen play, to create a new piece of Drama, using at least 30% of the original text. In the written examination, students respond to ideas for staging, performing and designing key extracts from both the set texts, ‘Hedda Gabler’, and ‘Saved’, as well as a pre-released extract from the play ‘A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’.

In terms of extra-curricular involvement, A-level students also take on the role of Assistant Director or Stage Managers for our main school production and lower school performance evenings. A-level students have also been responsible for supporting Year 11 Drama examination students, through Directing their performances.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

Due to the multi-functional skills that are developed, such as working under pressure situations, public speaking, working individually, as well as part of a group dynamic, whilst being able to show both creative and analytical skills, this qualification can lead to a wide range of careers not only in theatre but also in a range of Public Services such as Teaching, Health and Social Care, Law, Politics, Journalism, and Media.

Course Content

Examination Board

 

 

Full details of the specification and assessment criteria can be found on the Eduqas website 

WJEC Eduqas GCE A Level in Drama and Theatre

Component 1 –

‘Re-interpretation’

 

 

Coursework

20% of A-level

(60 marks)

Students select a text from the exam board’s set text list, then choose an extract to study. Their task is to create a new piece of Drama, using at least 30% of the dialogue from their selected extract, hence the name for this component being ‘the re-interpretation response’. The piece must also reflect key elements of the students’ chosen practitioner or theatre group. As well as performing a piece of Drama for an audience, students also write a creative log of 1,200 to a maximum of 1,500 words.

Component 2 -

 ‘Text in Action’ 

 

Coursework

40% of A-level

(120 marks)

Students select one stimuli from a choice of four given to them by the exam board. Students need to devise a piece of Drama in relation to this stimuli, and also select an extract from a published play text, which also relates to the stimuli, to be performed in front of the visiting examiner. Students must also write a creative log, detailing how both pieces have evolved, as well as complete a written evaluation within 10 days of their final performance.

Component 3 –

‘Text in Performance’

 

Written examination

40% of A-level

(120 marks)

 

Section A and B: Students study the two set-texts, ‘As You Like It’ and ‘Love and Information’. Students will be asked a series of questions on both plays, which include how extracts could be performed, designed or rehearsed for the stage. In Section B, students must respond to a statement given to them, detailing their ideas for how their chosen play text could be realised in performance; students must also refer to how live theatre experiences have developed their ideas.

Section C: Students are given a 10 page extract from ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ to study in advance of the final examination. In the examination, students will be asked one question on a two paged extract. Students also have to refer to live theatre to explain their creative decisions.