I thought Drama was when the actors cried; but Drama is when the audience cries.” So said Frank Capra, director of Its A Wonderful Life, but why is Drama is so excellent – not just good – for children? There are many reasons, but we can focus on one key benefit – the improvement Drama can make to a child’s verbal communication skills. In 2014, an article on www.mba.com quoted one recruitment specialist as saying “Communication is KEY. You can have all the financial tools, but if you can’t communicate your point clearly, none of it will matter.” and went on to say “Communications, teamwork, and interpersonal skills are critical—everything we do involves working with other people”. Studies have shown that increasingly employers are valuing so-called “soft skills”, with a recent report stating that soft skills contribute more than £80billion a year to the UK economy, and yet employers say they have no way to judge a candidate’s abilities in these areas… well here in the Drama Department we disagree! Soft skills such as teamwork, communication and creativity CAN be measured – through success in Drama.

Good communication skills are an indispensable life skill, they enable us to make friends, achieve well at school, realise one’s dream job, and go on to succeed in that dream job. In fact, how many jobs or situations in life can you think of that don’t require good communication and the ability to work with others?

This is why we believe that Drama is so important in schools. It teaches students not just how to speak loudly, clearly and confidently, but also many other communication skills, such as focus, concentration and maintaining eye contact. Drama also develops other skills, for example, working creatively in groups, keeping to deadlines and critical thinking. At King Edward Vi Handsworth school for Girls, Drama is a discreet subject in the curriculum, with all students having one hour of Drama a week in Year 7, 8 and 9, and the option to continue studying Drama at GCSE and A-Level.

Drama’s not safe and it’s not pretty and it’s not kind” – Russell T Davies, Producer Dr Who

Aims and Values

“Every student, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, background, experience, ability or economic means is entitled to a high-quality experience of Drama, taught by committed, enthusiastic teachers, who strive for excellence in themselves and for their students”

To achieve this we provide:

  • Opportunities for Drama in the Creative Arts curriculum at KS3;
  • Opportunities to take GCSE Drama as an option in Year 10 and to continue studies into Sixth Form.
  • A comprehensive extra-curricular  programme
  • Opportunities for students to perform for an audience
  • Possibilities for students to see world-class performances by companies such as the RSC, by organising educational visits to local theatres;

To ensure no student is disadvantaged because of gender, ethnicity, age, background, experience, ability or economic means, provision may be made for students to access fees for workshops, and funding can be accessed for disadvantaged students to enable them to attend educational visits.

 

Curriculum

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Storytelling – Text/Devising

This project looks at how to tell a story in a variety of different ways. It also looks at storytelling in another drama tradition. At the end of the project, students perform an improvised drama to the rest of the class based on a story introduced in the project, using a narrator and sound effects.

Assessment:

  • Performance
  • Evaluation

Spring Term 1

Character – Devising

In this project, students learn how a character can be developed. At the end of the project, students perform a brief scene for the characters in their group from a script which they devise.

Assessment:

  • Write And Develop A Script
  • Evaluation

Summer Term 1

Tinsel Truths – Devising

This project looks at films, how they portray characters and situations and how films compare with real life. At the end of the project, students perform an improvisation they have been working on which demonstrates different film genres.

Assessment:

  • Understanding Of Genre
  • Development Of Character

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

Bullying – Devising

This project looks at the issue of bullying from all perspectives. At the end of the project, groups of students perform an improvisation about a student who is bullied at school.

Assessment:

  • Creation Of Character
  • Evaluation

Spring Term 2

Text – Scripted Performance

This project is about using a variety of texts as stimuli for drama. At the end of the project, students perform a scene from the script of a mini-play.

Assessment:

  • Use Of Text As Stimulus Creation/Performance Of Character

Summer Term 2

Circus – Devising

This project aims to develop students’ understanding of mime. At the end of the project, in groups of three or four, they perform a circus to the rest of the class, in mime. Each student plays a different character in the circus.

Assessment:

  • Understanding And Use Of Skills
  • Evaluation

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Shoplifting – Devising

In this project, students tell a story on the theme of shoplifting. At the end of the project, they perform a scene about the key moment when a person starts to shoplift, and how this changes their life and the lives of those around them. The performance includes a range of techniques introduced over the project.

Assessment

  • Creation Of Character
  • Evaluation

Spring Term 1

Peer Pressure – Devising

This project looks at the influence of peer groups and the possible consequences of peer group pressure. The performance at the end of the project is about someone who is persuaded to do something wrong. The drama is presented as a mixture of freeze frames and improvisation.

Assessment

  • Improvisation
  • Character Development

Summer Term 1

Script – Text

The aim of this project is to develop a piece of drama using a script. Students are given the opportunity to write and perform their own scripts, based on extracts from plays by Shakespeare.

Assessment

  • Developing A Character From A Script
  • Performance
  • Writing A Script

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

Pantomime – Text/Devising

This project is about pantomime. At the end of the project, students perform some scenes from Cinderella from a script.

Assessment

  • Understanding Of Genre,
  • Developing A Stock Character
  • Performance

Spring Term 2

Slapstick – Devising

This project explores a particular genre. By the end of the project, students have created a scene in the style of an old silent black-and-white film, concentrating on physical elements and slapstick.

Assessment

  • Understanding Of Genre
  • Physical Skills

Summer Term 2

Battle Cries – Text/Devising

This project involves developing characters and learning more about the lives of soldiers at war. At the end of the project, students perform an improvisation of two contrasting scenes, showing soldiers coming home from war.

Assessment

  • Performance
  • Evaluation

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Departure – Devising

This project looks at how people react when they part, knowing that they may not see each other again. At the end of the project, the class, as a whole group, performs a piece of drama of between 5 and 15 minutes with the title ‘The departure’.

Assessment

  • Developing A Character
  • Working Within A Theme
  • Performance

Spring Term 1

Secret Annexe – Devising

This project explores the issues surrounding Jews in the Second World War. It explores issues such as family relationships and the loss of privacy. At the end of the project, students perform an improvisational and educational piece of drama based on a theme in this project.

Assessment

  • Use Of Drama Techniques
  • Developing A Character
  • Performance

Summer Term 1

Performance Project

This project looks at creating a performance. At the end of the project, students show a rehearsed presentation lasting up to 15 minutes on a topic of their choice, which includes techniques that have been developed over the course of Key Stage 3.

Assessment

  • Final Performance

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

Commedia Dell’Arte – Devising

This project looks at a theatrical genre. At the end of the project, students devise and perform a scenario involving five main commedia dell’arte characters, using masks.

Assessment

  • Understanding Of Stock Characters
  • Developing Original Plot
  • Use Of Masks In Performance

Spring Term 2

Shakespeare – Text

This project is about developing an understanding of a Shakespeare play, using a variety of techniques. This particular project is based around Macbeth. However, most of the exercises in the project can be used with any Shakespeare text. At the end of the project, students perform a scene from Macbeth.

Assessment

  • Understanding Character And Plot
  • Evaluation

Summer Term 2

Pop Culture – Devising

This project looks at popular culture and television. At the end of the project, students present a reality television show of their own devising to a specific audience.

Assessment

  • Performance

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Introduction

Component 1

Written Exam

Spring Term 1

Live Theatre

Component  1 Section C

(TBC – taught when students see Live Performance)

Summer Term 1

Component 2

Devising Skills

Term 2

Spring Term 2

Component  3

Performance Skills

Summer Term 2

Component 2

Devising

R&D (Research and Development)

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Component 2

Filmed Performances & Devising Logs

Component 3 Rehearsals and Work In Progress

Performance

Comp 1

Live Theatre

Spring Term 1

Component 3 Visiting Examiner Performance

Summer Term 1

Component 1

Mock Exam

 

Term 2

Spring Term 2

Component 1

Revision

Summer Term 2

Component 1

Summer Examination

Staff

Miss H Russell (Head of Department)

Mr I Parry (Music, Drama, Peripatetic Music Lesson)

Miss D Plante-Bekenn (English & Drama

Additional Information

How can parents help?

  • Allow quiet time and space for completing actor’s journals and written work for exams.
  • Double-check that when your daughter uses a website for research, she is putting the information she finds into her own words. This will help her to check she has understood the information, and makes it easier for her to remember too.
  • Please avoid making medical appointments when there is an assessed performance coming up – your daughter will always be working in a group and others may be relying on her in rehearsals.
  • Encourage your daughter to read lines with you or a family member at home, by reading in other character’s parts for her. This practice is invaluable when performing scripted plays.
  • Find a local youth theatre. They are a great way to develop further skills and gain more confidence through performing.
  • Try to see some live theatre if possible. Look out for last minute offers and student stand-by seats where this applies. As well as the big, well-known theatres in Birmingham, look for smaller local productions by touring professional groups, or repertory theatre groups. Look further afield for good-quality affordable productions, for example, Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre.
  • Encourage your daughter to proof-read written work by asking to look over it yourself, or even better, have her read it to you to help practice her vocal skills!
  • Come and see your daughter’s performances whenever possible. It always means a lot for students to have family and friends in the audience, and helps to boost their performance skills as well.
  • For GCSE and A-Level Students, look out for second-hand copies of plays, or books such as Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares and Creating a Character, as well as the excellent Year of the King by Antony Sher, which is a wonderful account of his rehearsal process for playing Richard III.

Where next

The study of drama provides students with a wide variety of very marketable skills, including working to deadlines, creative thinking, team work and working independently, confidence and the ability to communicate effectively: all skills employers increasingly list as the most desirable qualities of their employees.

Some students may go on to study Drama or Theatre Studies, or Technical Theatre such as Costume Design, at University or Drama School, or some may choose to use their skills in other areas such as:

  • Public Relations
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Law
  • Advertising Or Marketing
  • Publishing
  • Or any other area that requires the ability to communicate and the capacity for critical thinking

Many well respected Universities have excellent Drama programs including Queen Mary, Warwick, Bristol and King’s College London, as well as Drama Degrees from other Further Education Colleges, such as the Central School of Speech and Drama, which was rated 8th nationally in 2014. Some students may be keen to secure a first degree before pursuing acting or performance through a post-graduate course, and many drama schools, such as Rose Bruford and Bristol Old Vic, encourage this route, preferring to take more mature students.

Opportunities out of lessons

The Drama Department run extra-curricular clubs in lunchtimes throughout the year, with Drama Club, Musical Theatre Club and the Back-Stage Crew being very popular.

Each year King Edward VI Handsworth and Aston put on a joint-schools production, alternating which school runs it each year. Previous year’s shows include:

2017 – “Guys and Dolls” at Aston

2016 – “Our House” at Handsworth

2015 – “Anything Goes” at Aston

2014 – “Hairspray” at Handsworth

Students are expected to audition for the show early in the school year, and those successful rehearse after school, using the Green Bus service to travel between schools as necessary. The performances are in February (Handsworth) and March (Aston).

We also run several theatre trips throughout the year. Recent productions we have taken students to see include:

“The Woman in Black” at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

“Pygmalion” at The Royal Theatre, Bath

“Blood Brothers” at the Birmingham Hippodrome

“Doctor Faustus” at the Barbican, London

There are also regular evening showcase performances, particularly for GCSE and A-Level work, where invited audiences are encouraged to come and support the student’s work.

 

Useful links

Useful Links

What’s on pages:

Live Brum Theatre
What’s On Birmingham 
ENTS 
What’s On Stage Birmingham

Physical Theatre Companies:

Complicite
DV8 Physical Theatre

Theatre In Education:

New Wheeller Plays

Candt

Information from the Arts Council on Drama in schools:

Arts Council

Theatre Practitioners:

Stanislavski

Ataud

Augusto Boal

Berkoff