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Drama

Learning Journey & Sequencing Rationale

The Drama Curriculum enables students to develop a series of performing, directing and production skills; whilst learning about plays, texts, beliefs and artistic works from other times and cultures. Learners will develop an understanding of how to create staging in different styles for a variety of occasions. All lessons have elements of exploration, rehearsal and performance. Written work is structured in bespoke workbooks until the end of year 9, after which the learners will have a combination of workbooks and more formal essays.

Storytelling, Staging techniques, Character development

Year 7 encourages learners to use various staging techniques and narrative devices; this creates a solid foundation for exploring how to create characters, scenes and basic sound/lighting effects. After the joy and spectacle of devising a Pantomime (which incorporates a Theatre visit as a whole year group)  we progress to using drama skills as a tool to explore the topic of bullying, linking to our SMSC programme of developing empathy and understanding for different people. Later in the year, learners have the opportunity to act, design for and direct scenes from ‘Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations’ by Alan Ayckbourne. We complete the year with the study of the 19th century style of Melodrama before linking with the English Department to study 17th century scenes from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. 

Genre, style and structure. Realism and Naturalism

Year 8 is more focused on developing the skills and applications of naturalistic and non-naturalistic drama forms. Using stage space more creatively and effectively, the learners start by developing the comic skills of slapstick, honing their physical control and stamina for more physical and abstract theatre performance. Vocal, physical and original writing skills are stretched further with the development of an original monologue lasting up to three minutes. The learners then apply their knowledge by adapting a fairytale in a particular genre to create more contemporary and engaging performances. The traditional Italian form of ‘Commedia Dell Arte’ ensures that the physicality of performance skills is challenged in equal measure to language choices and vocal capability. A study of the substantially challenging and contemporary text of ‘DNA’ provides ample opportunity for budding actors, designers and directors to apply their learning in a more professional manner. The year ends with practical explorations of how 1900s Hungarian writings of Franz Kafka were adapted to the stage by Steven Berkoff in his fascinating Physical Theatre style.

Adaptation, interpretation and political bias

Starting by reflecting on Berkoff’s adaptation of ‘Metamorphosis’ the learners are taught how to apply their own performance skills to develop their own adaptations of ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ in an abstract theatre style. They will use their discernment to determine how to deliberately affect an audience's perspective. Progressing to the study of a whole text, the learners will explore the musical play of ‘Blood Brothers’ which will be compared to the texts and structures from 3000BC to Shakespeare and to more familiar, contemporary TV tropes. In ‘Let Him have it’ the sensitive depiction of real life events are explored in the context of developing effective scenes through guided research, diligent selection of performance style and application of technical effects for a specific purpose. The summer term invites groups of learners to create their own Devised piece from a range of stimuli decided by the teacher.

Devising to a brief.  Designing and Performing for an audience. Analysing and Evaluating 

Having developed a flair for Drama, design or directing in the weekly lesson; learners benefit from 3 lessons a week should they opt to study it further. Component 1 of the course enables learners to devise from stimulus Past stimulus have included Medieval rituals and beliefs; the modern obsession with fame and the experience of American immigrants. Students are assessed on their ability to research a topic, extracting dramatic potential and to successfully apply a range of styles (as learned throughout their previous lessons in years 7-9). This performance component will be accompanied with exercises in a workbook and with a more formal essay submission. 

The second component is entirely about the craft of acting or designing. Learners will be introduced to up to 10 different texts and will develop two scenes or designs from any one of these texts. Their characterisation through physical and vocal interpretation will be entirely their choice, with the teacher guiding and suggesting many rehearsal processes. Design, candidates will give a presentation about their design and be asked to fully realise the on-stage elements of their Lighting, Sound, Set OR Costume design.

Completing the all round approach, the learners will be tutored throughout the year in how to critically evaluate live theatre performances. There will be 2 live theatre visits and several online performances scrutinized in order to prepare for writing about one of these under timed conditions.

To build on the directorial skills, Learners are expected to develop a fully thought- through and justified interpretation of a key text, applying the skills of lighting, sound, costume and set design to their concept.The practice key texts in year 10 are ‘The Woman In Black’ and ‘DNA’. This ensures that learners are exposed to different styles, cultures and eras of both Dramatic performance and playwright’s intentions.

Adapting the approach. Reflecting on professional feedback.  Refining the work.  Performing/presenting to a large audience. 

The learners will be set a brief and devise their own piece for examination. This will be accompanied by a portfolio of exploration work. The learning is all achieved through the professional feedback of the supervising staff, with learners expected to treat feedback in a professional manner by evaluating it and refining their work effectively.

Learners will be visited by an examiner and assessed on either the performance or design of 2 extracts from a play which contrasts the key text. Candidates CAN opt to design one extract and perform in another.

The learners will present and write about their conceptual approach to the key text and be set longer written and practical assignments wherein they thoroughly justify directing, design and production decisions.

unit overview - autumn 1

Subject: Slapstick

Skills

  • Be able to explore the skill of slapstick and stage combat through performance.
  • Devise a performance using the skills of slapstick and other previous skills learnt.

Knowledge

Performance skills.

  • Process involved in correct application of slapstick and stage combat
  • Create a devised performance based on a stimuli in groups applying stage combat skills.
  • Create of a performance and the importance of structure within a performance to communicate their intent with an audience.

Key skills:

  • Proxemics are used to create relationships between characters of stage.
  • Stage space is considered and the knowledge embedded in how you need to be spatially aware for the engagement of the audience.
  • Slapstick skills such as the ‘Banana peel slip’ demonstrates the use of the comedy of genre and how this is used to engage the audience.
  • Evaluation of performance and their success and improvement in performance.

Extended Writing:

  • Evaluating performance through analysing the skills they have applied to performance and how successful they are in their ability.

Rationale

Proxemics (the use of space to show relationships) allow learners to how they show their relationships and how, depending on the relationship, we need a certain amount of space between people. A key skill when conducting themselves in interviews making them aware of how they should use the area around them to conduct a professional relationship opposed to a friendly relationship.

Use of slapstick skills demonstrates the control of the body and how the mood of a situation can be influence by your physical actions again a skill required to conduct themselves in social situations to gage an understanding of the mood and conduct themselves accordingly.

This topic is an engaging start to the new year for Year 8. Particularly the boys. This is taught in Year 8 due to the safety and more mature needs. Stage combat is a skill that needs to be taught with a group that knows each other and this term they will have known each other a year at this point. Skills learners develop will lead to creative devising work and the ability to apply different styles of theatre. GCSE devising component looks at how learners apply different styles and genres of performance to their creation.

unit overview - autumn 2

Subject: Drama

Skills

  • Be able to create a monologue or duologue for performance.
  • Apply practitioner skills to a performance.

Knowledge

Stanislavski:

  • Explore Stanislavski’s the given circumstance and produce a scene demonstrating every action a character has propels from the circumstance they are in.
  • Realise the importance of emotion memory and how the situations in our life influence the people we become and how we can apply those situations to a character through performance.
  • Naturalistic theatre and method acting how we become a character.

Brecht:

  • Non-naturalistic theatre and the application of Brechtian knowledge to make the audience think.
  • Socio-political theatre to propel audience to make a change.
  • Breaking the fourth wall to engage with an audience.
  • Write a monologue or duologue based on a socio-political issue which is current in society and have their character talk about the impact to their life.

Key Skills:

  • Vocal tone how we say something and how this forms the basis of our character which is applied to performance.
  • Vocal pitch how we control our voice through vocal exercises which improve our vocal range for character development.

Rationale

Stanislavski believed that to perform a character you had to experience a characters life ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ learners are taught empathy for others through the exploration of emotion memory and the given circumstances. Through emotion memory they are drawing on their personal memories and applying them to the character allowing them to understand that every person has life experiences and has emotions linked to their own. Learners demonstrating empathy for others is crucial when working with others and communicating with others.

Brecht looks at socio-political issues within society allowing them to be aware of current socio-political issues and how this is impacting their life and society around them. When they create their character within the term they must have their character show their view point on the issue allowing them to appreciate that everyone has a different opinion and we are entitled to that.

Learners begin to learn the basics of practitioners which is key to creating styles of theatre in GCSE. This is taught during this terms as an introduction to practitioner work which is explored further in detail during GCSE so learners know different styles of theatre to apply to devising and scripted works. They can also refer to this in their portfolios when asked about the style of theatre they created and what influenced them.

unit overview - spring 1

Subject:  Genre

Skills

  • Be able to know how to apply a genre to a performance
  • Create a character focussing particularly on physical skills.

Knowledge

Genre:

  • Apply a genre to a story adapting music and lighting to consider the style.
  • Create tension applicable to the specific genre through recorded or live sounds appreciating the importance of sound to enhance a performance.
  • Marking the moment: highlighting the key moments within a performance which are crucial moments within a scene.
  • Devising a performance using a genre in order to know how performances can relate to a genre in line with GCSE Drama specification.

Key Skills:

  • Gestures: applying gestures to character developing knowledge to engage an audience.
  • Facial expressions: Building a wide ranging ability to use facial expressions to communicate meaning to an audience.

Rationale

Learners will work as a team building interpersonal skills. They will develop organisational skills when producing their performance becoming independent learners taking initiative for their own work. These skills are essential for future careers in business creativity and team building a necessary skills to develop and manage a team and business. Without these skills learners will be unable to conduct themselves in their future careers.

Genre must be considered in devising component of GCSE Drama. Learners must state the genre of their performance and why they decided to apply this genre to their performance. They must therefore have a knowledge of genres of performance.

unit overview - spring 2 

Subject: Commedia

Skills

  • Be able to understand the ancient art of commedia dell’ arte
  • Develop physical exaggerated skills to perform commedia characters

Knowledge

Commedia:

  • Apply physical skills to characters using gestures applicable to each specific character
  • Explore a style of acting which is pre Shakespeare broadening learner’s knowledge of the history of theatre.
  • Explore vocal pitch and how to stretch their vocal skills to embody a character.
  • Further explore status and the use of levels and proxemics to show status between characters.
  • Using stage directions in scripts to use the stage space effectively.
  • Explore and apply the comedy rule of 3 in performance. Developing skills to engage the audience in a comedic performance.

Extended writing:

  • Creating an evaluation on a scripted performance on their work and the work of others. Anaylsing the skills used in performance and how successful these skills were to further develop performance.

Rationale

During this unit learners begin to explore comedy in further detail and more exaggerated movements which will link to further exploration of physical theatre in GCSE. We begin to further develop a wider knowledge for theatre history in this term and further develop physical skills. This is developed at this point in the year for learners to have built their skills over time.

This term learners engage in the comedic elements of Drama and the history of theatre. Commedia dell arte’ was originally performed in Italy and then all over Europe engaging learners from different cultures and backgrounds.

Learners begin to explore the wider world of theatre and discover how all countries have developed theatre as we know it today.

unit overview - summer 1

Subject: DNA

Skills

  • Explore the role of a director through using GCSE set text
  • Begin to consider costume and lighting to bring the text to life for an audience.

Knowledge

DNA:

  • Use vocal and physical skills to explore the extract to bring the characters to life.
  • Direct a scene from GCSE set text exploring the role of a director in performance and applying directorial knowledge to a performance
  • Understand the role of a director in a production and the overall goals for performance.
  • Using the play as a guide explore the context of performance and how this will influence the style of performance.
  • Create a costume for a character applying specific colours and style for the character and time period.
  • Light the extract performed justifying decisions and considering additional lighting if it was available.

Extended writing:

  • Learners will apply the practical knowledge to an extended piece of writing. This will be GCSE style.
  • Apply directorial knowledge to a character justifying the decisions made to engage and bring a performance to life for an audience.

Rationale

DNA looks at gang culture and the effects of peer pressure. Gang culture is very current in society and some of our learners are vulnerable. Through this component we explore the dangers of gang culture and how it is ok to say no.

We explore DNA during this term to prepare learners who will take GCSE Drama. This is a set text for GCSE Drama therefore exploring it in this term allow learners to get an overview of the themes explored and also will be familiar and recent to continue into GCSE study.

Learners will gain wider knowledge of the world and society through the language explored in the play. They will gain organisational skills through directing a scene and gain leadership skills through communicating their ideas with their peers and directing them into creating their vision.

unit overview - summer 2

Subject:  Cookies

Skills

  • Explore the play ‘Cookies’ developing physical theatre skills
  • Applying previous Brechtian knowledge to a script.
  • Begin to explore Steven Berkoff

Knowledge

Cookies:

  • Physical theatre and Steven Berkoff are key to the understanding of the staging of the play ‘Cookies’ learners will apply physical theatre to scenes from the play.
  • Apply the use of slow motion to scenes to create audience engagement.
  • Develop physicality and use of pace to create atmosphere and set location.
  • Apply Brechtian skiils of breaking the fourth wall during moments of ‘Cookies’
  • Apply the use of Berkovian theatre through use of speaking the stage directions.
  • Vocal skills are further developed through applying intonation and inflection to create audience impact and engagement throughout the performance.

Rationale

This unit not only helps to develop the skills of the learners progressing to GCSE Drama but also looks at the safeguarding agenda. The play explores the themes of cyber bullying, radicalisation, the sharing of indecent images and gang culture.

Physical theatre is a tool used to create devised performances. This is explored in more depth in GCSE. The placement of this SOW is during this last term before the move to the next year. Placing it here engages learners who will not be studying GCSE Drama however through the safeguarding agenda will be relevant for all learners.

Through this SOW learners will work as a team using physical theatre skills and gaining trust in each other. Looking at gang culture, radicalisation the sharing of indecent images and cyber bullying teaches learners about what to be aware of a what is happening in society.

co-curricular programme

Click on the link to view the range of co-curricular activities being run by the Drama Department

/school-life/extra-curricular

knowledge organisers

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.