St Olave's Lion King 2017Drama can be a controversial subject in schools and, sadly, funding for the Arts Council and theatre projects appear to be relatively easy targets for government. However, we believe that the skills rehearsed and refined in the drama room are skills which are essential to take forward into life: being able to speak with confidence; understanding how you are perceived by others and the ability to work creatively and negotiate with others.

At St Olave’s we value the skills, confidence and independent opinions that are built through drama. As a result, each year group receives a forty-minute lesson per week. Drama truly provides a joy and liberation for many children, leaving behind pencils and paper and allowing their communication, negotiating and evaluative skills to be put to the test. Pupils are encouraged to work with limited amounts of text and explore ideas, with all interpretations being celebrated and feedback being given by their peers in a supportive and informed manner.

We recognise that performance is an integral part of the subject and, to this end, pupils in Years 4 and 6 are involved in a musical production which incorporates the whole year group. By Year 8 the performance element incorporates the Shakespeare School Festival which enables pupils to opt in to a cast who then perform at a professional theatre (Jospeh Rowntree Theatre) in front of a fee paying audience and alongside other schools involved in the project. Also, as a culmination to their time in St Olave’s, the Y8 pupils are involved in a Gala Evening which includes every pupil in the year in a performance piece – be it musical or dramatic. On top of these more ‘formal’ productions there are opportunities in almost every lesson for pupils to ‘share’ work produced, within the safe environment of their peers.

At times drama is also used to enhance the English curriculum, especially during the teaching of Shakespeare, which allows pupils the opportunity to explore characters and motives beyond the realms of the classroom.

Over the past few years we have been strong partners with our local theatre, the Theatre Royal and each pupil is involved in a bespoke day of activites each year as part of this work. These activities range from drama-led ghost stories to creating machines to enhance an English piece of work, or they can also be structured to include a production and opportunity to work with the directors and actors. In addition to this, several children each year are ambassadors each year and, in this role, are invited to review shows at the theatre.

Live theatre adds yet another dimension to the subject and we are blessed in being within striking distance of so many incredible theatres – in York itself but also Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester and Bradford to name just a few. All year groups are offered opportunities to take part in these visits and gain enormously from these experiences. Naturally, programmes are constantly changing, which gives this subject its exciting, contemporary and evolving feel.

 

Christmas

Easter

Summer

J1

Different aspects of stagecraft including gesture & body language. Group work demonstrating different techniques.

Portraying different characters using voice, gesture etc.

Different aspects of stagecraft including gesture & body language. Group work demonstrating different techniques.

Portraying different characters using voice, gesture etc.

Work on J1 play. Production for parents, involving all pupils in the year group. Rehearsals use class drama time. Performed over three days to school and parent audience.

J2

Improvisation: building on J1 work, action and reaction.

Noah’s Ark by Roger McGough, group work.

Shirt machine – link with English. Collaborating on whole class piece.

Work on Chapel performance.

Mime.

Live news report – link with English. Use of simple props & costumes.

Radio advert - link with English. Focus on conveying all information verbally. Compare with mime – visual.

J3

Chat show interviews – paired work. Devise scripts in addition whilst also incorporating elements of improvisation.

Storytelling. Stagecraft – in preparation for J3 play.

J3 production. Rehearsals used for audition process and then to choreograph dance routines for the production. Shown to parental audience over two evenings.

Treasure Island – link to English. Acting out characters, devising own scripts and planning other aspects of a play e.g. costume.

Drama workshop.

J4

Character work (may be linked to novel). Creating character; use of props; freeze frames; cross-cutting techniques etc.

Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Focus on using Shakespeare’s language, exploring character and situation to supplement English.

Shadow theatre, focusing on group work, creativity and collaboration. Creating theatre to music.

5

Mask work. Using emotion Trestle masks to understand mask theatre. Aim for final performance in groups with music.

The Tempest

Focus on using Shakespeare’s language, exploring character and situation to supplement English.

Gala preparation. All pupils involved in a piece of music or theatre for an end of year show to parents.

Go here for more information on co-curricular drama.