Year 7/Third Form
Lower School Drama offers all students an exciting platform to explore their own creativity and develop their acting and design skills collaboratively. The subject is delivered in a weekly single period of 50 minutes, taught in both specialist Drama studios, where learners will explore acting, costume, makeup, puppetry and mask design through both scripted and devised performance assignments based on various stimulus materials. There are opportunities for students to create iMovies and perform their best work in class, with special assembly performances of their work where appropriate. Academic Drama performance and design work will be showcased in the summer term for the whole year group to share publically.
Year 8/Lower Fourth
Lower School Drama is honed further in the Lower Fourth, where pupils will be challenged to create more advanced scripted and devised performances, specialising as actors or technical lighting or sound designers.
Pupils will learn new skills in technical design through a close study of a play in performance. Most modern productions fuse lighting and sound with movement and characterisation to create vivid atmospheres, locations and narratives and this will become the focus for theatre review for the students. They will work closely with our professional theatre technician to learn how lighting and soundboards and equipment work, gaining hands-on experience with their technical designs, culminating in class and year group showcase performances.
Year 9/Middle Fourth Form
Key Stage Three Drama
The course offers all Year 9 students a broad introduction to the drama process in making, performing and responding to theatre forms. The subject is delivered in a weekly single period of 50 minutes, with a regular weekly prep allocation. This limits the depth but does not hinder breadth of experience. However, given the time constraints, the curriculum is skills-led to prepare for GCSE and is designed to serve as a broad foundation for GCSE Drama. One intrinsic aim is to ensure all students across the year group participate in scripted performances in both Michaelmas and Lent terms, as directors and performers, lighting and sound designers.
Students also learn how to evaluate the process of theatre through attending live performances each term and learning how to write analytically about theatre acting, staging and design, using specialist terminology. Their personal response to live theatre is fostered through discussion and peer assessment, leading to an end of year written exam.
Year 10/U4th Form
Key Stage Four: GCSE Drama WJEC Eduqas Specification
Students have the opportunity to specialise as actors, or lighting or sound designers on the course and there is no obligation to act at all, though this is always a popular option. The life blood of the course is live theatre and pupils will have the opportunity to attend a termly professional production, whilst also participating in professional workshops from visiting companies. In addition, GCSE Drama pupils in both years have the opportunity to attend the Broadway theatre tour to New York every two years in the Easter holidays, where they see 5 productions and participate in 3 professional workshops over 5 days.
Pupils have three lessons a week delivered in the two specialist Drama Studios, with an hour's weekly prep.
There are three components for GCSE Drama, introducing pupils more formally to a wide range of theatre styles and genres, enabling them to begin their Devised Component 1 (40%) in Lent term, internally assessed in October of their 5th year and externally moderated. They research scripted Component 2 (20%) skills and texts at the end of Upper Fourth and confirm these at the start of their fifth year course, ready to rehearse for an externally assessed exam in 2018.
Unit 3 (40%) is the written exam, Section A focusing on a page to stage approach set text study of Stafford's adaptation of Morpurgo's War Horse throughout the two years, building on the Key Stage Three skills gained already. Section B of the exam formally assesses live theatre, with an analysis of vocal and movement skills or lighting, sound and staging in one chosen production seen over the course. The written exam is an hour and 30 minutes, externally assessed in June of the Fifth Form.
Year 11/Fifth Form
Key Stage Four: GCSE Drama WJEC Eduqas specification
The students perform their Devised 40% plays publically in October to gain feedback, which they use to hone and refine their final exam skills and piece.
They are given a study day following the November two-week trials in other subjects, to improve and refine the work, completing their final Devised exam in December in a public performance (40%).
They also complete their final portfolio and written evaluation by the end of January.
Pupils edit their Unit 2 script choices in Michaelmas Term, ready to return to the Lent term able to rehearse and design their extracts from page to stage, culminating in a March public dress performance, with feedback from their audiences afterwards. This enables them to hone their skills and scene extracts, ready for their externally moderated script Unit 2 exam in May (20%).
The trial exam for Unit 3 written paper (40%) is mid-March, focusing on a set text study of War Horse and a formal theatre review essay, based on one show they have studied on the course. Students will hone exam technique through timed exam practice, aided by regular target setting through self and peer assessments throughout all three terms.
Year 12/Lower Sixth Form
Drama A-level WJEC / Eduqas Examination specification
The new A-level course is delivered in seven weekly lessons, with a supervised weekly practical prep for one hour and a written or research prep for a further two hours per week. The course broadens the sphere of learning from GCSE to include a more detailed, formal study of theatre history, set texts, practitioners and theatre forms. Replacing the Broadway tour are specialist theatre residencies in Michaelmas and Lent half term, where pupils work intensively with professional companies such as Frantic Assembly to develop new skills and stretch their creativity to the highest levels in their practical performance exams.
In the Lower Sixth, pupils will complete Unit 1 Theatre Workshop (20%), culminating in a public performance exam in May. This is an exciting opportunity for them to reinvent a published play by deconstructing a chosen extract, applying a theatre company approach to their working process as actors, lighting and sound designers. They accompany their performance with a creative log, analysing their influences and decisions, as well as evidencing their skill development.
Throughout the year, learners focus on the Component 3 (40%) written paper, studying one full text in detail, Kirkwood's political drama, Chimerica, exploring its political, cultural and historical context and adopting a page to stage approach to answer questions from the perspective of a director, performer and designer.
In addition, learners will hone their analysis of design, ground plans and staging, through workshopping Section 3C text extracts on Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This study will be internally assessed in the summer term in a written exam lasting an hour and 40 minutes.
NB Study of their final Section A text, Treadwell's Machinal takes place in Upper Sixth, along with Component 2 (40%) Scripted and devised performance exams.
Year 13/Upper Sixth Form
A-level Drama and Theatre WJEC Eduqas specification
In the Michaelmas term, students complete their 10% written creative log to match their previous 10% examined performance of their C1 reinterpretation exam, completing this unit by the end of September.
They broaden the sphere of learning from their Lower Sixth C1 exam to include a further 40% C2 practical exam, divided equally between Devised theatre, linking to a contrasting practitioner or theatre company, alongside a Scripted performance, which is influenced by a studied style, which can include their C1 practitioner or company. They can specialise as actors, lighting or sound designers for C2 and will prepare a public performance of each piece by early February, receiving feedback in order to hone their final exam ready for performance to an external examiner in late February. They have one week after their performance exam to complete an accompanying written evaluation.
Students study a third set text, Machinal by Treadwell, alongside revision of Chimerica by Kirkwood and continued study of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Stephens, developing their own independent direction, design, staging and performance ideas and applying these to their set text study.
Their trial exam in January will be a clear indicator of areas to hone further in preparation for the externally-assessed June exam (40%). Students will hone exam technique through timed exam practice, aided by regular target setting through self and peer assessments throughout all three terms.
Epsom College offers a wide range of theatre productions annually to be involved in, as directors, stage managers, designers, technicians, actors and audience members.
- School production: 6-8 Dec 2017: The Caucasian Chalk Circle - Brecht
- School musical: 7-9 March 2018: Evita - Rice, Lloyd Webber
- Junior production: 25 June (2pm Prep School matinee), 27-28 June 2018: Grimm Tales - Pullman
In addition to the academic Drama lessons, there are additional societies for keen thespians to join:
The Mermaid Society: a play reading and appreciation society which meets in the cultural hour in the Performing Arts Centre, three times a term, to discuss key scenes from three chosen plays, one of which links directly to a live theatre trip. The Society is open to pupils from Third Form to Upper Fourth and is organised by Ms Chandley, Head of Academic Drama, and two A-level Drama students. Students can sign up termly to attend the Society, with a maximum number of 30 pupils per term. The main aim is to foster analytical skills and personal response to plays through lively debate, play-reading, and theatre-watching, across year group, aiding members' intellectual prowess and honing a passion for theatre.
The Ariel Society: a junior Drama club, where members can develop their acting skills through practical workshops, linking to the plays studied in The Mermaid Society. The Society is open to pupils from Third Form-Upper Fourth and is organised by A-level Drama students. The Society meets weekly in Drama Studio 1 in period 7, between 4.10-5pm in the Michaelmas and Lent terms, with numbers limited to 20 per term. While members may wish to attend The Mermaid Society as well, there is no obligation to do so.