Key Stage 3 Drama
Drama lessons at The Mirfield Free Grammar aim to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of drama skills and techniques, enthuse them about theatre and, importantly, develop their cultural capital. Most vitally, however, Drama equips students with the life skills they will need to achieve their potential beyond the classroom; skills which will assist them in every aspect of their lives, from building confidence and the ability to work with others to creative problem solving and working under pressure.
In KS3, students will study one lesson of Drama per week. Through our challenging and engaging curriculum, students should develop a critical understanding of drama, allowing them to create interesting pieces of theatre, become engaging performers and reflective responders. These elements link into the three areas of assessment – Creating, Performing and Responding. Specifically we aim to provide students with the means to:
- create imaginative pieces of theatre using a range of drama skills and techniques
- perform confidently, making full use of their physicality and vocality
- articulately analyse performances using the appropriate drama terminology
In Year 7, students are introduced to these concepts and begin their drama education by understanding the importance of, and developing, their non-verbal communication skills in their first scheme of work – Silent Movies. They develop their NVC skills, whilst gaining an appreciation of vocal awareness, in their second scheme; Commedia dell’Arte. Students hone their vocality skills in the Storytelling scheme before combining the skills they have developed in ‘Darkwood Manor’ where they are introduced to a variety of new strategies. Our Physical Theatre scheme allows students to communicate meaning through their bodies as an ensemble and, in their final scheme of the year, students develop an appreciation of Shakespeare in performance with an insight into ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
In Year 8, students further develop their use of skills and strategies and, essentially, develop the ability to successfully combine them. Students begin to understand how to create and develop character in our period scheme – ‘Charlotte Dymond’ – before learning about melodrama and how to devise a melodramatic performance. ‘Little Sister’ enables students to hone the ability to create and develop character in a contemporary setting and our WW1 scheme allows students to develop their Creating, Performing and Responding skills whilst learning about the Great War. Students explore Shakespeare in performance with two of the Bard’s greatest tragedies, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Othello’, before experimenting with new strategies in ‘Go to the Movies’.
In Year 9, students are thinking about their GCSE options. With this in mind, our schemes continue to engage and challenge learners whilst giving them a taste of the GCSE Drama course. Students love exploring ‘Blood Brothers’, our GCSE Drama text, while our ‘Devising’ scheme makes direct links with the GCSE examination which demands that students devise a 10+ minute performance based on a given stimulus. After Christmas, students delve into the work of playwright and director John Godber, one of our most popular schemes, developing the ability to play comedic roles and multi-role. Our ‘Macbeth’ scheme successfully furthers students’ understanding of The Scottish Play; a text they have not only begun to explore in English but that they will go on to study at GCSE. We return to ‘Devising’ for the final scheme of the year in order to further prepare GCSE Drama students for the AQA course.
There is a weekly Drama Club for Year 7 students and Year 8 and Year 9 students are encouraged to audition for the school production.
Key Stage 4 Drama
Drama is a popular option choice amongst students of all abilities and continues to enjoy academic success. Yet whilst we are immensely proud of our results, what we are most proud of is the way in which we see students grow and flourish as they continue to develop essential life skills, further empowering them as they become young adults.
Students build on their existing skill set as they enter KS4 whilst being introduced to a number of practitioners and theatre companies. Specifically we look at Stanislavski and Naturalism, Brecht and Epic Theatre and Artaud and the Theatre of Cruelty. We also explore the work of Physical Theatre Company, Frantic Assembly.
The GCSE AQA course comprises of three components:
Component 1: Understanding Drama
Students explore ‘Blood Brothers’, from the perspective of a performer and a designer, writing about their vision and intentions in a 1 hour 45 minute written exam. They also analyse a live theatre performance. The examination takes place in the summer term of Year 11.
40% of the qualification.
Component 2: Devising Drama
Students create an extended group performance based on a given stimulus. A 2500 word devising log accompanies their practical performance. The assessment takes place in the autumn term of Year 11.
40% of the qualification.
Component 3: Texts in Practice
Students perform two extracts*, examined by an external examiner. The examination takes place in the spring term of Year 11.
20% of the qualification.
*We choose texts to both challenge students and enable them to showcase their strengths. Plays we have used in previous years have included: ‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright, ‘Shakers’ and ‘Bouncers’ by John Godber, ‘Hymns’ by Chris O’Connell, ‘Art’ by Yasmina Reza, ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’ by Charlotte Keatley, ‘Top Girls’ by Caryl Churchill and ‘Pool (No Water)’ by Mark Ravenhill.
Throughout the course there are many opportunities to visit the theatre. Witnessing professional work provides the learners with ideas and inspiration for their own devised work and developing the ability to analyse performances, as stated above, is a requirement of the written exam.
GCSE – and non GCSE – Drama students are encouraged to audition for the school production. Shows in recent years have included: Sister Act, The Beggar’s Opera, Guys and Dolls, The Addams Family, Lord of the Flies, Bugsy Malone, Grease, We Will Rock You and The Little Shop of Horrors.
The content of the course provides a smooth transition to A level courses in Drama and Theatre Studies.