The place of Drama in the school curriculum has been defended by claims that it:

  • Promotes self-expression
  • Builds self-confidence
  • Enhances creativity
  • Encourages co-operation

Drama involves a whole host of activities which may contribute to students’ development in these areas. For example:

  • Physical and mental games
  • Role-plays
  • Discussions
  • Simulation activities
  • Physical, mental and vocal warm-up activities
  • Trust activities
  • Movement and dance work

In Drama students may be involved in:

  • Creating dramatic situations and evolving characters by exploring their situation and feelings
  • Using improvisation to discover effective ways of communicating a dramatic story
  • Experiencing dramatic situations at first hand and reflecting on how they would personally respond to the events and characters being depicted
  • Interacting with each other during the process of making drama, to discover how the same situation may be perceived in different ways
  • Regarding the drama class as a laboratory for the dissection and investigation of human experience, rather than as a workshop for the manufacture and re-creation of other people’s plays

A broader view of Drama

In order to help students enrich their work and see it in a broader cultural, historical and aesthetic context, the Drama curriculum needs to be specifically concerned with the knowledge, skills and concepts of the art form. This involves:

  • Introducing students to a wide range of dramatic texts and forms and encouraging an interpretation of them
  • Helping students understand the cultural and historical context in which drama originates and is performed
  • Experimenting with different ways of performing and recording drama
  • Introducing different performance styles and matching theses to the texts studied
  • Teaching students how to speak and move with fluency and clarity of intention
  • Improvising around the central theme of a stimulus in order to gain greater insight into its dramatic potential
  • Working towards a formal presentation of a drama
  • Reviewing how students’ own explorations of ideas in drama match the ideas of other practitioners and commentators
  • Teaching students how to respond critically to written texts of plays and to both live and recorded performances from a variety of cultures, genres and styles

Taking GCSE Drama and Theatre Studies

What is the GCSE Drama and Theatre Studies all about?

The course is about exploring a range of practical and written drama from different genres and periods. It is also a chance for you to be creative, work as a team and complete innovative ideas. Drama is a subject where you can explore ideas and investigate communication. If you are at all interesting in a career in performance, the media, film, writing or anything creative, then this is a subject for you. That said, lots of people who take drama go on to have careers in health, psychology and in the forces, where empathy for other people is important. Indeed, a qualification in Drama demonstrates to any employer that you are good at working with others and that you may have that something extra in terms of confidence.

What about Exams?

The department follows the Edexcel Drama Specification. It is 60% Practical coursework/controlled assessments & 40% practical performance examination.

The Coursework?

The coursework is split into two units:

Unit 1 – Exploration of a dramatic theme using devising drama methods with a 2000 word controlled written assessment.

Unit 2 – Exploration of Play texts including a 2000 word Live Theatre Review (controlled written assessment) and 1000 word Play text evaluation (controlled written assessment).

Final practical examination?

This takes the form of a scripted performance incorporating a theme set by the Edexcel examination board. You will be working in a group where you will be given a limited amount of time to interpret and perform a piece of published drama. The piece usually lasts for about 25 minutes. You can also be examined as a designer in lighting, sound, stage management or costume if technical theatre interests you more. With this work, you will need to demonstrate your practical skills to a visiting examiner and show them a portfolio of your ideas as supporting evidence.

What Other Skills Might I develop?

The main skill we hope you will develop will be the expansion of your imagination as well as your ability to work in a creative environment and cooperation. We strongly believe in the ‘communion’ and ‘co-construction’ of theatre, with everyone working in a team to develop the final product. You should gain skills such as greater confidence, vocal and physical awareness, and an understanding of the arts and culture in general.

Will We Get Technical Support?

Yes. You will get this from the Drama teachers but also from the department’s technician. Technical support is also provided by the Information Technology department.

Will We Go To The Theatre?

Yes. We go to the theatre quite a lot, but be prepared to see plays and performances which will challenge your ideas! We go to see things like Shakespeare and classic plays, but also new experimental work. It is good if you have an open mind. Being interested in all aspects of culture (music, film, literature, and theatre) will help you a lot. We go to different places to see theatre: The Barbican, The Theatre Royal, The University of Plymouth and The Minack.

What Type Of Drama Will We Study?

The specification lets us study lots we of course study play writers like Shakespeare and Arthur Miller, but we also look at scripts from writers like Lorca, Harold Pinter, Alan Acykbourn, Carol Churchill, Dennis Potter, John Godber, Mike Bartlett and Samuel Beckett. We also explore drama from different traditions across the world.

Will I Enjoy This Course?

Hopefully you will. You have to work hard though; Drama is not an easy option at all! You need to be committed to hard work, to creativity and to being a good team member. You will hopefully also make lots of new friends along the way!

What Could I do Next with GCSE Drama and Theatre Studies?

Many students go on to complete Advanced Level Theatre Studies here at Hele’s and go on interested in pursuing creative degrees at University or College. Some students take a B-Tec route and study performance at places like the Plymouth College of Further Education.

For more information, please talk to Mr Jones or Mrs Tout

The course is open to all Sixth Form students, regardless of whether they have Drama GCSE, provided they have achieved a creditable grade in English and are genuine in their commitment to the subject. The course aims to:

  • Encourage in candidates the development of appropriate theatre skills and the integral discipline of theatre work
  • Extend the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the theatre
  • Encourage in candidates a critical and sensitive response to the complexities of the theatre

Studying Drama and Theatre Studies should equip one with enough self-confidence to hold one’s head high in any kind of job and also prove to any prospective employer one’s ability to work co-operatively and creatively as part of a team.

The department follows the Edexcel AS and A2 courses in Drama and Theatre Studies, which is assessed thoroughly 70% practical coursework and 30% written examination. Students can specialise in either acting or technical skills but will be expected to gain a working knowledge of both.

AS Unit 1: Exploration of Drama and Theatre

Internally assessed

This unit introduces students to the content of plays written for the theatre. They will learn how to analyse plays in a variety of ways so that they become familiar with the way written plays can be interpreted for realisation in performance.

This internally assessed unit requires students to explore two contrasting play texts, chosen by the centre, in a practical and active way. At least one of the plays must be explored in the light of a recognised theatre practitioner.

A video/DVD of one session of the practical work must be made available for use in moderation. A set of Exploration Notes must be submitted.

Students are also required to experience a live theatre performance and submit an evaluation.

AS Unit 2: Theatre Text in Performance

Externally assessed

This unit offers students the chance to demonstrate skills in a performance environment. The knowledge and understanding gained during the study of two plays in Unit 1 can now be applied with a view to delivering a performance to an audience.

This is an externally assessed unit. The first section requires students to offer either a monologue or duologue. The second section requires students to contribute to a performance of a professionally published play by a known writer.

Students may offer either acting or a design form and must also provide a concept of the interpretation of their chosen roles or designs.

A2 Unit 3: Exploration of Dramatic Performance

Internally assessed

This unit requires the creation of a unique and original piece of theatre. The knowledge and understanding gained in the AS units can now be applied to a created production. Students will be assessed on both the process of creation and the finished product in the form of a performance to an invited audience.

Students will be assessed on the research and development of their work as well as the final performance in front of an identified audience. They are also required to complete an evaluation on both the process and performance of their work.

Written evidence will be required reflecting the research and development work as well as video/DVD evidence of a sample session of the developmental process and a video/DVD of the final performance.

A2 Unit 4: Theatre Text in Context

Externally assessed

This externally examined written unit requires the detailed study of one set play text and one prescribed historical period of theatrical development.

This externally assessed unit takes the form of a 2 hour and 30 minute written paper in three sections.

Sections A and B require students to explore one play, from a choice of three set play texts, from the point of view of a director in both an academic and practical way.

In Section C a selection must be made of one from a choice of three historic periods of theatre history. A live performance of a play from the chosen period must be experienced and evaluated and a comparison made with the original staging conditions of the play.

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