All students in Years 7, 8 and 9 have a timetabled lesson of Drama per week, during which they explore performance skills and techniques as well as elements of dramatic style and history, along with the work of established dramatic Practitioners. These are the core skills that are developed over KS3 and students get the experience of writing, devising and performing their work.
Extra-curricular Drama is also thriving; the school puts on an annual school production with either the lower or upper school, and every other year teams up with Sutton High School for Girls to produce a joint musical. These productions are always of an extremely high standard and have earned a strong reputation for being the best in the local area. The students involved each year play a full role in all aspects of production, from performing to lighting and sound engineering, and thoroughly enjoy the challenge and experience. Recent productions include “Grease”, The Addams Family” and Little Shop of Horrors” and this is in addition to curricular-based productions that the students do. Lower school Drama club and the offering of LAMDA, to all years, further the importance of Drama as part of the Sutton Grammar School experience.
In Year 7 we aim to develop the boys’ basic performance, plus their interpersonal skills, as most of the work is based in groups. In doing this we cover basic improvisation skills, Greek and Elizabethan theatre (a quick History of Drama), and projects on how to create tension in performance through semiotics and scripted performance skills and realisation.
In Year 8 we focus more on developing performance skills to suit specific genres and styles. A project on developing simple characters leads to further, extended projects in which groups devise and perform their Slapstick comedy routines. Students then study a scripted comedy to consider how to develop their comedic performances from being focused on characterisation, to introducing text to support. There is then a movement onto the genre of Tragedy so that the juxtaposition of genres can be further developed in both performance and theory.
In Year 9 the work is more geared towards preparation for those who wish to take on the subject at GCSE level. The lessons tend to be much more fast-paced and higher level in terms of the skills developed. We carry out a study of influential dramatic Practitioners (Brecht, Artaud and Berkoff) both practically and theoretically to develop students’ understanding of more in-depth and challenging approaches to creating theatre. Students then move on to create their Theatre in Education performances that are performed to lower school students.
Live Theatre Evaluation
This is a key skill which is required at both GCSE and A level study for Drama and so across each Key Stage 3 year, students will study a live performance and evaluate either a semiotic or acting element of performance to help build and develop their dramatic vocabulary. Structured approaches to writing their evaluations are developed in detail across the years to ensure students possess an effective level of written evaluation by the time they end Year 9.
In the GCSE Drama (Theatre Studies), you will develop your knowledge of the core elements and the history and practitioners of drama through practically based work and explore it through the roles of Performer, Director, Deviser and Designer. Most of the work you do will be done in groups and as well as developing your confidence, you will learn to collaborate and work with others and have the freedom and responsibility to develop your ideas into performance. Essentially you are learning vital life skills, valued in any future career and by any employer while at the same time developing greater artistic awareness and sensitivity. It is a challenging but enjoyable course, which caters for all abilities and achieves excellent results reflecting a genuine enjoyment of the learning that has taken place.
Year 10 is very much a foundation year in which you will cover most of the course material and develop the theoretical understanding that will underpin all of your GCSE work. At the end of Year 10 Component 01/02, the Devised project, will be undertaken which is made up of both a devised, collaborative production as well as written supporting coursework. This unit will allow the boys freedom in what they produce in response to a given stimulus. All students will also attend at least one live theatre performance to start building the skills associated with live theatre evaluation. In previous years boys have had the opportunity of being involved in The Old Vic School’s Club which has enabled them trips to see four shows with complimentary tickets.
In Year 11 the boys will complete Components 3 and 4 which will complete their GCSE study. Component 3 is where the boys get the chance to be assessed as either a performer or a designer based on their strengths and interests. They will get the chance to perform or present two extracts from a studied script which will demonstrate their creative and practical ability as either a performer or a technical designer, to a visiting examiner.
Component 4 is the final exam; this is a written paper which will require the boys to study a set text as well as review a live theatre production. The set text questions will relate to the context of the original performance as well as interrogate the boys’ ability to interpret the text in a modern performance context; the chosen set text is ‘Missing Dan Nolan’ by Mark Wheeller. This unit will require them to respond to the questions from both an audience and directorial perspective demonstrating an advanced knowledge of a working theatre and the design decisions.
What will I learn on this course?
The course demands practical, creative and communication skills in almost equal measure. You will extend your ability to create drama and theatre, either in a performing or production role. You will also be required to write about drama and to develop your powers of analysis to become an informed critic. The course will involve taking part in drama productions, as well as studying plays and playwrights and visiting the theatre a great deal to evaluate the work of others for use in your work.
Component 1: Theatre Workshop (20% internally assessed)
Students will study a full text and choose an extract to practically reinterpret in performance using the techniques and working methods of either an influential practitioner or a recognized theatre company. They will be assessed on both their practical performance as well as a written creative log which documents and evaluates their process.
Component 2: Text in Action (40% externally assessed)
Students will be assessed on two practical performances in this unit. One will be a devised piece, in the style of a recognised Practitioner or Theatre Company, which they will create as a result of exploring a stimulus provided by Eduqas, the other will be a performance of an extract, in a contrasting style to that of their devised, from another play text that they would have studied. Alongside these two practical performances, the students will also produce a process and evaluation report that will document their exploration and realisation of their performances.
Component 3: Text in Performance (40% externally assessed)
This is a written exam which is split into three sections. Sections A will assess students knowledge and understanding of how theatre can create meaning for an audience for a post 1956 text and Section B will require students to create their own interpretation of a pre 1956 text for a contemporary audience using the influences of live theatre that they have seen throughout the course. Section C of the exam will require the students to answer a series of questions about a prescribed extract from ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ (Changing to ‘A Monster Calls’ from September 2025).
The A level specification is exciting and innovative and allows for a wider variety of texts to be studied as well as the exploration of numerous performance styles. The Eduqas specification, in particular, encourages students to study a plethora of theatre practitioners and theatre companies and then apply this knowledge to their performances, therefore solidifying their theoretical and practical understanding of Drama and Theatre.
Drama and Theatre Studies within and beyond the Sixth Form
Doing Drama and Theatre Studies does not mean you have to become an actor, director or theatre designer but if you want to it is a good start. What it will give you is a different learning style, learning by doing and reflection, rather than learning by rote. During the course, you will have to take a lot of responsibility for the decisions and choices you make and at all times you will be working collaboratively with others. The self-motivation required makes it ideal preparation for university life and there is not a profession in which collaborative skills are not required. Above all, you have more control over what you do than in other subjects and will thoroughly enjoy the challenges that you are faced with. It will undoubtedly develop you into a more confident, sociable, charismatic and rounded individual and provide you with skills and experiences that will last a lifetime.