GCSE/A Level Drama
Compulsory at Phase 1, optional for Phase 2 and Advanced Academy
Drama at Newquay Tretherras
We have a fully active Drama department which provides exam success, entertainment, clubs, musicals, classic and experimental studio plays. The department consists of three specialist teachers and a part time technician to support with the teaching of lighting and sound and our excellent facilities include two purpose built drama studios that convert into a small theatre that accommodates an audience of up to 150. The technical equipment is up to date and students at the school could operate most modern theatres and studios once they have learned to use our facilities.
The whole school production for 2016 was “Oliver” which involved nearly 60 students from Years 7 to 13 in acting, singing and dancing performances, whilst a further 40 were involved backstage working sound and lighting and playing in the orchestra. There is a drama club for students to improve their performance skills and regular theatre trips run for GCSE and A-levels students. Throughout the year there are various opportunities to get involved with extra-curricular performances and festivals. For example, last year students performed a World War 1 piece at the Hall for Cornwall and this year we are entering the National Connections Youth Theatre festival. We’re also part of The Royal Shakespeare’s Learning Performance network, which gives us access to professional development with the company and resources to use with students. Tretherras students also performed with a cluster of schools in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year.
Phase 1 Drama
At Phase 1, students have one Drama lesson a week and cover a wide range of stimulus, from Shakespeare to historical events to current issues. They explore each topic through drama techniques which aim to enhance their ability to work collaboratively and boost confidence. Drama lessons are mainly active and require students to work independently as they plan and construct their work in groups. However, students are always marked individually on their exploratory and performance skills. Emphasis is always put on what we can learn from putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and empathising with different characters.
Homework is set to enhance each topic and might involve a piece of research to be used in their performances, a small section of script to learn, or an extended project where they put together several pieces on the topic.
GCSE level Drama students have five lessons per fortnight. There is a more in depth exploration of the different topics or scripts that are studied, which are more challenging. Students are marked on their exploratory work and support this with an evaluation of the work they have done. They do one main project on a topic and one on a script which makes up 60% of their assessment. The final 40% is an externally assessed performance exam and here students who do not wish to perform can design and operate sound or lighting. Students particularly enjoy the practical work and working collaboratively with others. Although the majority of the time is spent working with others, students are always marked individually.
We achieve good grades at GCSE and have consistently been above the national and Cornish average for A-C grades. There is still a very good take up for the exam despite the fact that many other subjects have been introduced to the curriculum. We now follow the EDEXCEL syllabus. Homework is often evaluating work in class or learning a script or finding time to rehearse for final performances.
NT Drama has produced students who have gone on to work in these media including designers of lighting, TV presenters and members of the RSC in Stratford. We are proud of our record and constantly try to improve so that we are looking towards the achievements of the students of the future.
A Level Curriculum
In Year 12, students study the work of practitioners in theatre and apply this to the exploration of two substantial plays. The work in lessons is supported by notes which evaluate the process and discoveries they have made about the text. Students are required to research the historical, social and political setting of each play and the impact this has on its performance. The second unit is a performance where students will study a play and deliver a monologue or duologue from it and also participate in a group performance. Here students who do not wish to focus on performance can do lighting or sound for this final exam.
Students are required to keep notes on their practical observations and to do research that supports their study of plays or practitioners.
In the final year students bring together all of their learning to devise an original performance aimed at a specific audience. For example, the current Year 13 are working with Year Six, devising a play around the idea of evacuees and fairytales. They will do workshops with the Primary students and perform the final piece to them. Students write about how they used research to shape the piece and evaluate how effective it was. The final unit is a written exam where students are asked how they would rehearse and direct a specific play. They also see a piece of Shakespeare and compare this to how it would have been performed originally.
For more information, go to http://tretherras.net/a-level-drama-and-theatre-studies/
Link to exam board / specification