Curriculum Statement - Drama
‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.’ – Bertolt Brecht
The Laurus Drama Vision is for all students, regardless of background or circumstance, to be inspired to be makers and appreciators of culture, to be empowered to have a voice in the world today, to recognise what it takes to succeed creatively, and to acquire the knowledge and qualities that not only open the door to future success but allow our students to walk through it.
Powerful Knowledge in Drama
The key concepts in drama are skill driven and aim to build personal skills which can be relied upon to succeed, not only in drama lessons but beyond school life and in future employment. At the heart of drama is the development of these skills in all young people; engagement, communication and oracy, creative imagination, clarity of expression, autonomy, leadership, confidence and cooperation. There is more to drama than being able to perform on stage. Opportunities are embedded for students to be able to hone and develop performance skill, but equally important is the ability to understand the purpose of the theatre we create. Methodologies of theatrical practitioners are introduced throughout the key stages to enable students not only to ‘re-enact’ but to shape their own unique ideas with a greater understanding of the need for style, intention, theatrical form and to learn to celebrate individual and unique perspectives.
The drama curriculum at Didsbury High School provides students with the opportunity to create, perform, analyse and evaluate a broad range of theatrical styles and conventions. The schemes of learning are multisensory and allow students of all backgrounds to experience working with a range of drama techniques. The curriculum also explores a diverse array of themes which relate to the real world, thus broadening the pupil’s understanding of the world around them and their place in it.
The curriculum is centred on the key concepts and skills of drama and theatre. They are designed to raise expectations and standards from the start of Key Stage 3 and ensure that powerful drama knowledge is being understood both from a practical and theoretical perspective. Not only does the curriculum provide students with powerful and meaningful dramatic knowledge, but it also focuses on developing student’s emotional literacy, analytical skills, autonomy and critical thinking.
KS3 is broken into four categories of study: theatre practitioners, scripted study, devising skills and theatre reviewing. This structure is designed to enable students to return to and retrieve the key concepts and techniques from the previous years and develop these in order to progress as the curriculum continues. The final aim is to provide students with a safe and stimulating space in which to interpret, present and dissect their creativity, and that of others with confidence and clarity.
Co-curricular offerings are a hugely important aspect of the drama department at Didsbury High School. These electives are designed in order to enable the students to develop the skills, concepts and techniques learnt in lessons. The co-curricular offering is varied in order to provide an insight to the range of approaches to working in a professional theatre.
All students will be given an opportunity to audition for the annual School Production, which will combine the collaborative efforts of drama, music and dance with the expectation that all cast members will develop their own performance skills, professionalism and theatre etiquette.
Alongside the school production is the Technical Assistance Group where students will also be offered the opportunity to support with the production in an off-stage capacity as lighting & sound technicians, set & prop designers, or backstage crew.
In KS3 students can elect to take part in the Downstage Theatre Company, a group which will develop the devising skills of the students who will respond to a range of stimuli and produce a series of short performances. These students will be given the opportunity to showcase their work in order to develop their experience of performing to an audience.
Students will learn all the basic skills and conventions of drama through a variety of topics and resources. In the Autumn Term work will centre around movement, mime and physicality using influence from Commedia Dell’Arte, before exploring voice through melodramatic stock characters. In Spring Term students will consider the roots of Western theatre, exploring Greek theatrical practices and popular myths and legends. In the Summer Term students develop their understanding of contemporary physical theatre techniques before combining all of their prior knowledge and applying this to the topic of war and displacement. Current schemes are varied in order to provide variety and engagement, as well as addressing each area of the GCSE assessment criteria on a basic level.
Now that students have the basic toolkit of drama they will move on to develop these skills to a more detailed level and explore more advanced themes and issues. In Autumn Term work focusses on exploring the methodologies of contemporary theatre group Frantic Assembly. They then move onto applying these ideas to Macbeth by William Shakespeare, implementing their vision to this classic text. Students then work with renowned theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht through the theme protest. In Summer Term students will then focus on their devising and creative skills through exploration of key historical events, gaining insight into political, cultural and social issues. The aim is that by the end of Year 8 students can not only apply the skills but understand why they have selected certain strategies and what their purpose is. Students should also have developed confidence in order to create work themselves and offer personal ideas and opinions.
The emphasis in Year 9 is on starting to practise and develop GCSE skills. In Autumn Term students learn and understand how to create immersive theatre, taking influence from the theatre practitioner Antonin Artaud. They will be asked to devise their own developed piece of immersive theatre, which links directly to the first component of GCSE Drama. During Spring Term they develop their understanding of the style of naturalism, and how to use rehearsal techniques effectively to develop a character with accuracy that is maintained through a long duration. The students will explore the play text ‘Blood Brothers’ by Willy Russell through practical drama, applying the rehearsal strategies and bringing to life the emotional scenes in this revered play. In the final term they will have the opportunity to develop documentary style theatre and then showcase all the skills learnt through Key Stage 3 in a final devising topic.