The Drama Department aims to achieve the very highest of standards in theatre making and approaches to stage craft. We believe in investing in learning inside and outside the classroom, enabling our pupils to develop as a 'whole' person, nurturing the key skills that will not only equip them for a job in the arts industry, but for a job in any industry.
The art of communication is the language of Leadership
Freemen's Drama from Form 1 to Sixth Form
Pupils from Form 1 through to the Sixth Form are able to access Drama. This is either embedded through their curriculum in the early years, or as a discreet subject from Upper Three to Upper Four. Post KS3, students can opt to take the subject at GCSE and A Level, and these are very popular options at KS4 and 5. Additionally, our students can engage with a vast array of regular productions which are available across all three sections of the school each academic year.
Drama in the Junior School
The Junior School produces an annual musical play for Lower 2 in the Spring, and Lower 3 in the Summer term. This has always been a great opportunity for the students to engage in three of the arts disciplines; Music, Dance and Drama. This year the Lower Two performed a wonderful reworking of the Pied Piper, building on their success from the year before with Pirates of the Currybean. Joining in their achievement in performance, the Lower Three students also performed a musical rendition of Scheherazade, adding to their strong repertoire of plays performed in recent years, including last years’ Hamlet. Drama has a strong presence in the Junior section and there are talent shows, concerts and various performance opportunities to engage the pupils in the world of theatre. In addition to stage performance, the pupils can also enter into the Jenning’s competition every year in KS2 English, where every child performs a poem, as well as engage with LAMDA lessons offered within the Junior School.
In Upper Three and Lower Four, the pupils are able to participate in the annual Shakespeare schools Festival, kindly funded by our FSA. As a part of this the pupils have the opportunity to perform at a local theatre and gain a stronger understanding of how performance works in the industry; including disciplines in acting, directing, technical theatre and stage management. This year the pupils performed A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream at the Electric theatre in Guildford, and in previous years The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet and the Comedy of Errors at the Leatherhead Theatre. We pride ourselves in giving all pupils an opportunity in the creative arts and these are some of the many opportunities presented each year in order to achieve inclusivity for all.
Senior School Drama
This year the Senior School and Sixth form pupils gave an outstanding performance of Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistable rise of Arturo Ui and the musical bonanza Little shop of Horrors. This occurred alongside our annual House Drama competition, which is always judged by an industry professional. There is a strong co-curricular program for Drama within these two sections each year, which also complement and run alongside the academic timetable for each Key stage. There are many A Level and GCSE devised and scripted performances each year, some of which have included Greek Texts in our Sophocles trilogy, Pinter’s The Birthday Party, and verbatim theatre such as Michael Vinaver’s Septembre 11, 2001. Our A level students are known for presenting and performing challenging texts, such as Peter Wiess’ The Investigation and a more recent adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie. The school currently follows the Cambridge IGCSE Drama syllabus at KS4 and the Edexcel Drama and theatre studies syllabus at KS5.
On all productions, including those that are examined, students undertake the full range of backstage and technical activities, from lighting and sound - supported by our full time technician - to costume, make-up and hair. The school boasts a well-resourced theatre space in the Ferndale Theatre which is equipped to professional standards; a computerised lighting system, digital sound system, together with facilities for digital projection. In addition, we have a Mac suite available to students to facilitate and enrich their knowledge of industry marketing and inclusive media capabilities for the stage, including tuition in the latest computer aided lighting design software.
All courses are taught by Drama specialists, allowing us to teach to the highest standards possible.
There is a strong placement on developing the ‘whole’ child within the subject area, and we support skills for jobs in any industry, not just for those wishing to pursue a career in the arts. The department has a national and international reputation for the standard of the work produced at the School. This has meant that in addition to 13 Edinburgh Fringe Festival productions over the last 17 years we have also been invited to create bespoke pieces of theatre for the international symposium of the Consumer Goods Forum; performing to over 1500 Chief Executives of the international retail industry at the QEII Centre and also for Barilla’s conference on ‘Food in a Sustainable Future’ in Milan.
Each year, the department offers students the opportunity in the Senior School and Sixth Form to attend a trip to enrich their experience of drama in the wider world. In previous years this has been our biennial trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but more recently we have organised for the pupils to visit renowned Drama school Fontainebleau in France during the Easter holidays. Additionally, students are able to enrich their experience of theatre and understanding of theatre repertoire in our annual theatre club, visiting shows in London regularly throughout the year.
The department also has a history of achieving successful placement of students into top London Drama Schools and onto Drama degree courses at university, as well as supporting students in their success at obtaining a place at Oxford and Cambridge. Many students who once studied Drama at Freemen’s are now working as actors and technicians in the theatre, film and television industries, including the award winning actor, Andrew Garfield.
We thrive on pupils love and passion for theatre, and in return we give them a life-long love of the subject to take forward into their future.
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Junior School Drama
Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.
Ian McEwan (writer)
The Junior School supports the development a child’s personal and academic growth at Freemen’s in and through Drama. Within the Junior school, staff use drama embedded within lesson time which offers learning opportunities for pupils to nurture their own ideas around planning and creating. Drama is used to support and explore creativity, imagination, confidence and language skills and in the Junior school we have confidence that when children engage in these drama activities they become increasingly aware of the use of language, both socially and academically, furthering their social and emotional development.
At Freemen’s we strongly believe that an effective use of drama within the curriculum in our school enables pupils to enjoy drama as a subject in its own right, and as a learning medium across the curriculum. Drama is a vital element of our pupils’ entitlement to a balanced arts education and therefore, we offer a wide range of activities which our pupils are able to get involved in. These include; drama clubs, shows and lessons in dram
Drama is also a social activity requiring pupils to communicate, cooperate and collaborate. At Freemen’s we foster creativity and thinking skills which raise pupils’ self-esteem and confidence through self-expression. Drama thrives on cognitive challenge. Our pupils are asked to use a range of thinking strategies in lessons which incorporate drama, such as hypothesising to solve a problem both within a narrative or the drama form itself. They are encouraged to rethink their strategies when surprising events occur and to be flexible in their approaches. We encourage our pupils to use drama to approach the use deductive reasoning to justify their opinions or choice of dramatic technique both in and out of role. They deal with dramatic metaphors, the symbolic and the abstract and as a result with skillful intervention, drama helps our children’s writing come alive, resulting in written work that features more effective vocabulary, striking imagery and an understanding over pace and style.
Over an academic year pupils are able to get involved in a range of different activities surrounding drama and performance. Pupils can enjoy drama as part of their enrichment afternoon, participating in workshops which allow them to nurture their dramatic form, or get involved in one of the many shows which are put on in Form One (Summer Term), Upper Two and Lower Three (Spring term). These shows are extremely popular and many of our current parents, alongside the members of staff, support these shows each year in various capacities.
Like theatre, drama in schools can unlock the use of imagination, intellect, empathy and courage. Through it, ideas, responses and feelings can be expressed and communicated. It carries the potential to challenge, to question and to bring about change.
Drama has its own history and body of work, much of which has a unique and important place in our cultural life. In common with all subjects, it requires specific skills, knowledge and understanding which are progressively taught and assessed through and across the key stages. Three interrelated activities characterise the subject of drama at all levels: making, performing and responding. Drama makes an important contribution to the development of thinking. These are:
- Information-processing skills, e.g. sequencing and comparing
- Reasoning skills, e.g. drawing inferences and making deductions
- Enquiry skills, e.g. asking relevant questions and testing conclusions
- Creative thinking skills, e.g. generating and extending ideas, applying imagination and looking for alternative endings
- Evaluation skills/ Self-reflection, e.g. judging the value of their own and others’ work.
At KS3, in the Upper Three to Upper Four years, students experience a wide range of dramatic tools to aid them in their personal growth and skill development. Taught as a discreet subject within their timetable, each pupil has an opportunity to develop skills which are not only valuable in one of the most economically valuable industries in the world, but to any industry where the aforementioned skills are used. Drama is taught one hour a week in the Upper Three, Lower Four and Upper Four years. Throughout this time students experience teaching and learning that focuses on a variety of styles and genres within drama which give them a strong basis to build their future experiences upon.
Each year students get the opportunity participate in drama based extra-curricular activities within the Junior School and Senior school. Some of these include performances, drama clubs and speech and language lessons. We believe in rounding the pupil as a whole, and nurturing the strengths of the individual. We are inclusive in our approach to drama and encourage all disciplines within the arts.