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Our mission is to introduce students to the rich variety of theatrical styles, genres and practitioners found throughout theatre history. We set out to foster an enquiring and receptive mindset in our students, one that is keen to engage with the unknown and resilient in the face of the unfamiliar. We nurture a deep appreciation of Drama’s power to interrogate socio-political issues and metaphysical questions through storytelling. Through exercising their voice and body, and by exploring their own and other’s emotions, we guide students to become emotionally expressive, self-aware and self-reflective. Woven throughout all of our work in Drama, is our commitment to engendering the hallmarks of leaders: ingenuity, spontaneity, collaboration and confidence.
Students learn to become aesthetic archaeologists, studying seminal play texts through close-text analysis and situating them within their socio-political context. Key Stage Three studies focus on the origins and development of western theatre from pre-historic religious ritual through to post-war Britain. Students are encouraged to trace connections between Dramatic art works from across the ages and to consider how major playwrights, directors, actors and scenic artists have influenced theatre beyond their lifetime. Alongside their analytical work, students learn experientially through practical class-based activities where they test the principles and processes that they are addressing by engaging directly with the physical exercises set out by leading practitioners.
Through these two modes of academic study, students gain the tools to become theatre makers in their own right, crafting an imaginative landscape within which to explore their preconceptions about human nature and society, and an artistic vocabulary with which to express their discoveries. Theatre-making at CGS cultivates our students’ curiosity about the world, calling on students to create plays dissecting robust subject matter; from current affairs to paradigm shifting scientific discoveries, the world and all of history is the student’s topical oyster.
By gaining an appreciation of the form, content and remit of Dramatic art, students become increasingly aware of the collaborative processes that generate theatre. Our teaching ethos is to guide students’ learning toward completely autonomous, co-operative creativity. By the end of key stage three students are adept at generating and shaping ideas through collaborative decision-making. As an examination subject at GCSE students develop their skills still further, with highly productive group work forming the bedrock of their learning.
Extra-curricular Drama at Chesham Grammar School
There are two major events in the extra-curricular Drama year, the main school production and House Drama. Student leadership is a cornerstone of our extra-curricular offer, with Sixth Formers running a Tech Crew and a drama club, culminating in a show case evening for an invited audience.
The department leads on an annual whole School Production for Years 7-13. We aim for the highest standards possible and take the view that no show is ‘beyond the reach’ of school-age actors. We approach texts in the same way as a professional theatre company would – through intensive rehearsals over several months, working on sub-text and through improvisation around the text. In addition, our productions are aided technically by a professional lighting and sound designer. Our costumes are all meticulously hand-made by the Textiles Department and the school orchestra provides excellent music. This year we produced a Physical Theatre production of Shakespeare's The Tempest with two complete casts each performing on separate nights.
Productions in recent years have included Our Country’s Good, Wind in the Willows, Romeo and Juliet, Little Shop of Horrors, The Crucible, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sweet Charity, Show Boat and The Threepenny Opera.
In July, near the end of the Summer Term, we hold the annual House Drama Competition as part of a joint competition with the Music Department, House Performing Arts. Each of the four houses prepares a twenty minute hour play to perform in front of a live audience. The plays are directed by sixth form students and acted by pupils drawn from Years 7 to 10. Each team is fully independent and has to make a set, organise rehearsals, costumes and props. This is one of the most exciting events of the school year, always attracts a huge audience, and is a chance for real bonding between pupils from different year groups.
Drama at Key Stage 3
Students begin Year 7 with a core unit on characterisation and comedy, introducing students to the physical vocabulary and key conventions of Drama. They commence a detailed study of Theatre History, tracing the origins of Drama from religious ritual through the zeitgeist playwrights of Ancient Greece, Elizabethan and Jacobean England. In Year 8, students study the origins of Naturalism as a reaction to Victorian melodrama and explore the influence of Genre on audience expectations in the golden age of Hollywood.
Students commence GCSE Drama at the beginning of Year 9 and opt to continue into Year 10. GCSE Drama is a popular choice at Chesham Grammar School, with two substantial teaching groups. Students immerse themselves in Physical Theatre making in Year 10, culminating in Coursework worth 40% of their grade. Year 11 is dedicated to acquiring robust textual analysis skills, interpreting the work of key playwrights through a performance for an external examiner and through a written exam taken in the summer term alongside their other GCSE external examinations.
Exam Board: WJEC
Course Title: Drama
Unit 1 Written Coursework 20%
Devising Theatre 20%
Unit 2 Performance of Set Text A 20%
Unit 3 Written Examination on a Set Text B 40%