Drama is part of the English syllabus for the Thirds: one lesson each week is given either to practical Drama or to Library skills. The course involves exploration – spatial, mental and emotional – and is based on truthful observation. Girls begin with individual activities, then move on to, first, pair-work and then work in small groups. Underpinning the lessons is a programme of skills on which the girls are assessed at the end of the year, but girls should not be aware of this: they tend to see the lessons as fun, and think they are playing games, though each week covers a different exercise.
What it is NOT is a programme of ‘elocution'; nor is it particularly concerned with performance skills, nor with making speeches. At the same time, work from drama lessons should feed into school drama in other ways: there is an annual inter-form competition where form-groups choose and direct a short play, an extract from a longer play, or even write their own adaptation from another medium, for performance in front of the whole school. There are competitive dress-rehearsals at which the best four or five plays are selected to be performed.
There is also a Senior play each year in December, performed by girls from the top four year groups. Sometimes there will be a musical – Guys and Dolls, Cabaret and The Boy Friend have all been done – and ‘straight' plays have included The Crucible, Arcadia and several plays by Shakespeare. A recent innovation is a Junior play in July: this is produced and directed by a member of the English staff, and is open to girls from the first three years of the school.
Drama and Theatre Studies is available in the Sixth-form, at AS and A level.
Drama and Theatre Studies is currently taught by Mrs Oakley, who produces the annual school play and Mrs M. Bachle-Morris, who produces lower school play (yrs 7,8 & 9) in the summer term. She also organises the inter-form drama competition.