Drama at Dame Alice Owen’s School gives every child the ability and confidence to use and develop their imagination, their intellect and their empathy towards others. Through the study of drama, students’ ideas, responses and emotions can be expressed and communicated in a positive and safe environment. Drama carries the potential for all students to challenge and question the world we live in and to bring about change.
The students achieve through exploring issues and expressing feelings through the use of many dramatic strategies including improvisation, script-work and the creation of character in order to access information about a variety of topics and styles of acting.
Drama is an art form, a practical activity and an intellectual discipline. A dramatic education, which begins naturally with learning through dramatic play, will include many elements related to theatre. Through interactive teaching and learning pupils are engaged and motivated in order to enjoy and achieve in drama. We place great emphasis on creating a safe and enjoyable learning environment with a creative and fulfilling atmosphere where learners are motivated and enthusiastic to develop skills in drama and skills for life, which will be intrinsic in their life-long learning.
How do our students achieve this?
Students achieve an understanding of the world through role-play and characterisation in order to enable students to explore a variety of different situations and dilemmas. Drama makes an important contribution to the development of their thinking skills. These are:
- Information-processing skills: The sequencing and comparison of ideas.
- Reasoning skills: The ability to drawing inferences and make deductions.
- Enquiry skills: Being able to ask relevant questions and test conclusions.
- Creative thinking skills: Being able to generate and extend ideas, applying imagination and looking for alternative endings.
- Evaluation skills: Judging the value of their own and others’ work.
We teach pupils to make informed decisions and to develop their confidence and empathy through:
- expressing their opinions, thoughts and feelings
We enable students to do this through the use of theatrical conventions such as:
- forum theatre
- hot seating
- teacher in role
- still image
We also teach our students to question stereotypes and challenge expected status situations. (This could be through the use of role-reversal.)
Drama involves the use of our imagination and often encourages us to share our feelings in order to help us to make sense of the world. It does this through the creation of imagined characters and situations and the relationships and events that they encounter. Drama is both a creative and cultural activity. The language of theatre is international and is understood by everyone. It provides an opportunity for pupils to explore the world of people from other places, times and cultures and to examine differences and similarities with their own environment.
What other benefits does studying Drama have?
Drama lessons, workshops, rehearsals and performances help students to make feel more connected with one another and less isolated in school. Through drama lessons, workshops and the watching of live performance students can share similar emotions and experiences that connect them with one another. Students can come to realise we may feel united in our feelings about something or can discover that they will be accepted if they think differently; everyone’s opinion matters. Students are able to find out more about our identity through taking part in Drama lessons as the exploration of issues and ideas can make it easier for them to understand themselves more clearly. This understanding can help to make students’ lives more pleasurable and these experiences can also give them great wisdom. Students can see their problems acted out and it’s an important socialising force.
Working collaboratively as part of a group, in discussion or in workshops can enable students to provide insightful and constructive responses on each other’s work. They are able to improve their confidence in speaking and listening skills in English and other areas like debating and public speaking. Mrs Nicolaides’ brother-in-law said that taking Drama was essential to him in his job as a lawyer.
The study of Drama can also improve students’ creative writing, writing in role and their writing for purpose beyond the classroom. Many students taking English at AS have said that the study of another Shakespeare play in Drama and Theatre Studies has given them a broader perspective of Shakespeare in terms of their studies. One of our past alumni said that her study of ‘King Lear’ (in terms of her playing a role in the play) enabled her to have ‘an edge’ on other students. She was able to express her feelings about playing that role as well as her understanding of the play in performance and she said that she thought that this may well have given her an edge in terms of earning her a place at Cambridge.
Please click on the links below to see how Drama is taught at the different Key Stages:
Every year there are three plays/musicals which are chosen in order to challenge students’ understanding about their place in the world by enabling them to learn about different cultural, historical, religious and political situations.
The Senior Play: Winter Term
In the Winter Term is has been a tradition to perform a play that is aimed at the older more experienced actors in the school. The following plays have been performed:
2010: ‘King Lear’ by William Shakespeare
2011: ‘The Country Wife’ by William Wycherley
2012: ‘Julius Caesar’ by William Shakespeare
2013: ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare
2014: ‘ The Women of Troy’ by Euripides
2015: ‘The Tamin’ of Katerina de Witt’ By Miss E Govier
The Musical: Spring Term
In the Spring Term it has been a tradition to perform a musical, although last year was an exception. An original play, ‘Dame Alice Owen and the Mysterious Disappearance of the Head’* was written by Miss Govier in honour of the 400th Anniversary. Previous musicals have included:
2009: ‘Guys and Dolls’
2010: ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’
2011: ‘Little Shop of Horrors’
2012: ‘Into the Woods’
2013: ‘Dame Alice and the Mysterious Disappearance of the Head’
2015: ‘The Threepenny Opera’
2016: ‘ High Society’
Lower School Productions: Summer Term
2009: ‘The Insect Play’ by the brothers Capek
2010: ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding adapted by Nigel Williams
2011: ‘The Dark Curse of Dream Wood’ (an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in the magical forests of Transylvania)
2012: ‘Lock, Stock, a Wedding and Five Funerals’ (An adaptation of Romeo and Juliet set in 1960’s London)
2013: ‘The Ring of Fire’ (An adaptation of the Tempest set on a mysterious cursed island)
2014: ‘Alice’ by Laura Wade
2015: ‘Daz 4 Zoe’ by Robert Swindells, adapted by Joe Standerline
2016: ‘Arabian Nights’ Adapted by Dominic Cooke Licensed by Nick Hern Books
AS Performances have included:
- ‘Agnes of God’ by John Pielmeier
- ‘Loot’ by Joe Orton
- ‘What the Butler Saw’ by Joe Orton
- ‘Memory of Water’ by Shelagh Stephenson
- ‘The Odd Couple’ (The female version) by Neil Simon
- ‘Fear and Misery of the Third Reich’ by Bertolt Brecht
- ‘Attempts on her Life’ by Martin Crimp
- ‘The Trial’ by Steven Berkoff (an adaptation of Kafka’s novel of the same name)
Miss E Govier (Director of Drama)
Mrs L Nicolaides (Second in Department)