Drama and Theatre Studies at Bootham
Drama is a popular and successful subject at Bootham. The opening of the drama studio in September 2009 marks a new phase in its development as both a curricular subject and as an extra-curricular activity. Drama & Theatre Studies is not just for those interested in performing, with a focus on people and places it offers a unique opportunity for the study of human interactions and their relationships to the world in which we live. By developing confident, creative, ingenious and critical minds, drama provides a context where students can learn to make sense of their experiences as spectators, performers, designers and directors.
Bootham School GCSE & A-level drama and art students (working with Film/Performance company Imitating the Dog) present a collaborative piece of work at the end of their one day workshop on September 19th 2012. Imitating the Dog will be returning to work with the students over the coming term as they develop ideas for a large-scale production to be performed at the end of November. Click here to view the video.
Drama in the Curriculum
Drama begins at Bootham by providing students with the opportunity to develop as performers and spectators. Students are taught to view their bodies and voices as their prime communicating instrument, and to see that success depends not simply on the competent use of these but on their ability to manipulate space and engage an audience. Students learn a range of performance skills (including improvisation, physical theatre, mask work, comic and ensemble acting), but they also learn how to be an audience – and are encouraged to develop the intellectual skills necessary for analysing and evaluating their own work and the work of others.
Students are prepared in year one for their formal assessments in year two. Students engage with a range of playtexts (by playwrights as diverse as Beckett, Berkoff, Shakespeare, Dario Fo and Miller), approaching them through an equally wide range of sophisticated performance skills. Students are also given the tools for creating their own devised work. Regular theatre trips are organised to productions that students then analyse and evaluate. In their second year, students undertake three assessed units of work:
A practical exploration of drama, in which students apply the skills and understandings gained in year one to the exploration of ideas, issues and stimuli provided by the teacher. Students also produce a 2000 word critical reflection on their work.
A practical exploration of a complete playtext, through which students are taught to understand the ways by which playwrights, designers, directors and theatre companies use drama to communicate their ideas to an audience (students also produce a 2000 word critical response to a live performance).
Students are involved in the production and performance to an audience of either a scripted or a devised theatre piece. Students showing an aptitude for lighting, sound, costume or set design/construction can contribute as designers.
This enables students to develop strong practical performance skills and an equally strong intellectual appreciation of how theatre has developed in relation to its wider cultural, social and historical contexts. The course consists of four assessed units, these are supported by a range of additional research and performance projects designed to widen students’ awareness of the field:
Exploration of Drama and Theatre – two contrasting playtexts are studied (this year Athol Fugard’s The Island and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth), these are approached from the perspectives of a number of key practitioners (such as Stanislavski, Brecht, Antonin Artaud and Edward Gordon Craig). A number of theatre visits are arranged, enabling students to develop their critical appreciation of live theatre.
Theatre Text in Performance – working under the direction of their teachers, students apply the knowledge gained in Unit 1 to the performance of a monologue or duologue, and in the production of a play. Students can contribute either as performers or designers.
Exploration of Dramatic Performance – students work collaboratively in the preparation and production of an original piece of theatre. Students can contribute as performers, designers and/or directors.
Theatre Text in Context – culminating in a 2½ hour written exam, this unit requires students to approach a set play from the perspective of a director and to develop their own conception for its rehearsal and performance. Students are also required to study another play in relation to its original contexts of production and its subsequent performance history. Students attend a performance of the play and note how this relates to the ways by which other companies and directors have approached it.
Outside the Curriculum
Bootham has a long history of successful productions and all students are encouraged to audition for performing roles, many others contribute as designers or in a technical or support capacity (e.g. front-of-house, stage management, publicity, etc). Students also have the opportunity to train in the use of stage lighting and sound and to apply this to school productions and other events.
Guidance and coaching is always available for those seeking entrance to drama colleges, university drama departments and organisations such as the National Youth Theatre and the National Youth Music Theatre.
LAMDA classes are offered, providing a relaxed and positive atmosphere in which students can develop a wide range of drama and communicative skills. Through improvisation, games, drama exercises and text exploration students will explore performance skills directed towards entering the LAMDA graded exams. The preparation towards the exams will also provide an opportunity for students to develop other key skills; communication skills (in the broadest terms), self-confidence, imagination and social and group work skills. All students are welcome.
Regular theatre trips are organised for all year groups.
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