"My confidence has been boosted massively through Drama and having the opportunity to perform both inside the classroom and out. My passion for the subject has blossomed throughout my school life due to the wide range of experiences I’ve had. I have developed a huge range of skills throughout both practical and theory Drama lessons that I can take outside the classroom and into the world."
At Surbiton High School, the Drama department strive to unlock and nourish students’ potential in the Performing Arts by providing them with a wide and stimulating curriculum, which is complemented by our diverse Co-curricular programme.
Our department’s philosophy states that Drama teaching should nurture the development of each student, whilst ensuring pupils acquire the skills and knowledge base of drama, theatre and cross-curricular topics explored (both practically and theoretically) through the medium of Drama. This nurturing comes from encouraging, challenging, stimulating, positive teaching strategies, which provide the safety and opportunity for the development, the learning, the understanding and the growth of each individual. When students reach GCSE and A-level, this develops further to enabling them to develop as practitioners in their own right, through stimulating them with exciting material and training them with the necessary skills and theory to achieve in their examinations.
In Years 7, 8 and 9, pupils study Drama as a discrete subject in weekly lessons. The curriculum is varied and exciting, providing students with opportunities to experiment, explore and create, as well as preparing them for the GCSE and A-level courses. Topics covered include: Shakespeare, Storytelling, Physical Theatre, Mime, Mask, Working with Script, Theatre in Education, Stanislavski, Technical Theatre (lighting, sound, make-up and costume) and Devising.
The GCSE Drama course has three units: Devised Performance, Scripted Performance and Study of a Set Text. Students workshop the work of influential Drama and Theatre practitioners in the early stages of the course and then become the centre of the creative process as they prepare their original devised pieces and develop a clear rationale for their ideas. The Scripted Performance unit also demands students work independently, as they select, cast and rehearse play texts from the wide theatrical canon. The text studied in the final unit will be Shakespeare’s Macbeth from September 2014 onwards. Students prepare their ideas on performance, directing and staging the play and communicate these in a formal written exam.
The A-level Drama and Theatre Studies course provides students with the depth and breadth needed to really extend and challenge their abilities as creators and performers. At AS level, students study live theatre (and, hence, attend theatre performances regularly) and a set text (currently Sean O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunman) in the written unit of the course, whilst also preparing a scripted performance from a play text in the style of an influential theatre practitioner for the practical unit. At A2 level, students study two set texts, one pre-1900 and one post-1900 (currently Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Steven Berkoff’s The Trial). The practical unit at A2 is a devised performance in the style of a theatre company, director or practitioner. Drama and Theatre Studies is an exciting and diverse course that develops students as theatre professionals.
Drama GCSE and A-level both combine really well with most other subjects on offer at Surbiton High School, whether by directly complementing an Arts-based subject or providing a practical and active alternative. All areas of study can feed well into Drama as, in essence, it is the experiential study of human interaction. Drama can lead on to a career in theatre, film or television but is also useful for careers that require good team work and communication skills (such as law, media, marketing, business, public relations, education, design and even certain medical professions).
At Surbiton High School, our Drama co-curricular programme covers a range of exciting performance opportunities. We stage a large-scale musical annually (in November) at Kingston’s prestigious venue, the Rose Theatre. The production is open to students from Years 8 – 13 and provides students with a wonderful opportunity to showcase their talents in a professional venue, to an audience of 800 people per night! This unique event in the school calendar truly encompasses the definition of cross-curricular, as year-on-year we see students across the year groups work together and support each other throughout the rehearsal process, as well as staff from different departments collaborating in the production of a shared theatrical vision. Our most recent production was Disney’s classic Beauty and the Beast. Past productions include We Will Rock You and Bugsy Malone.
"I feel truly honoured to have been a part of such a professional show and the memories of performing on such a big stage will stay with me forever. The performing arts bring people together in such an original way and I feel the amazing people I have encountered are truly friends for life."
In the Spring Term, we stage the Senior Play, which is open to students in Years 9 – 13. The form of this production varies year-on-year, with past productions including the comedy Daisy Pulls it Off and an original, devised piece The Holocaust Project, which was staged in Battersea Arts Centre. Our 2014 production will be part of the National Theatre Connections festival. We are delighted to be one of the companies who have been selected to be part of Connections. We will be performing the new play A Shop Selling Speech by the innovative playwright Sabrina Mahfouz. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for a cast of Surbiton High School students to prepare a piece of theatre of a professional standard and to gain experience from industry professionals.
"When asked what the best thing about being part of such a production is, it is the friends and memories made and I will treasure this forever."
The Year 8/9 Production for 2014 will take the form of a House Shakespeare Festival. Students from each of the Houses will prepare a different Shakespeare text for performance. This production will be performed in the Assembly Rooms in February 2014. Past productions include Cider With Rosie and Animal Farm.
"It was like being in a special family being part of the amazing cast and crew."
Year 7 students also have a dedicated production which is performed in the Assembly Rooms in May. In recent years, productions have included Alice in Wonderland and an original show (written by one of our Speech and Drama teachers), Race Around the World.
GCSE and A-level students have showcase evenings to present their devised and scripted work in a formal context, to a live audience. These events are always varied and exhilarating for parents and younger students alike!
Students who are potentially interested in auditioning for productions or Drama School can sign up to be part of Audition Technique club, which takes place weekly and provides students with strategies for preparing audition pieces and helps to develop their confidence in their delivery and presentation.
We continually revise and update our co-curricular programme to ensure that we are offering a range of purposeful, challenging and fun activities for students to be part of.