Drama is an exciting, energising and challenging subject which will enrich you on both a personal and academic level. To watch and be part of live performances, to go through something together as a group, learning about them, laughing with them, helping them over good and bad times and sharing the intense moments of happiness and nervousness, is how we might describe the most precious moments of our lives and yet is precisely all those things you go through putting on a play or being part of a course of Drama.
It is useful to have taken Drama at GCSE level but not essential. You may have gathered a plethora of experiences from extra-curricular experiences in Drama and Theatre which will act as great preparation for studying at this level. The course will further develop your ability to reflect on professional theatre, and how to fuse the influence of playwrights and practitioners into your own work. Your knowledge, understanding and skills will be enhanced by practical and theoretical components in research and performance.
Drama is a subject that by its nature requires candidates to consider individual, moral, ethical, social, cultural and contemporary issues. In this sense, you will be learning not only about the world of the play being studied or created, but also the wider society in which that performance sits. You will develop your own work through improvisation and other theatrical techniques, enhancing both your acting and technical production skills. We have chosen texts and stimulus material that provide you with a broad range of cultures, genre and period; whilst also extending plenty of opportunities to experiment with form and style in an imaginative way, in the pursuit of producing something creative for your audience. There is a great emphasis on practical exploration in all areas of the course. This direct engagement will inform your written work and hone your ability to create exciting theatre.
The three units for the A Level are:
Unit 1: (40% of A Level)
Practitioners in Practice
This unit is very practically based and offers students the chance to explore and experiment with the work of two existing theatre practitioners in a very practical way and to use the skills gained to explore existing texts as well as having the opportunity to create devised theatre for audiences.
Having explored the practitioner work, students explore the performance possibilities of both, in relation to an existing performance text. Students will be marked on their practical exploration and application of theories to practice. Together with how they document the process, outcomes and key learning points, in a research report.
Students then create a unique piece of devised theatre. They are assessed on how they contribute to the practical creation of the piece and the actual performance. They will create a portfolio alongside the practical work, reflecting on the research and development work as well as evidencing an evaluation of the process and performance itself.
Unit 2: (20% of A Level)
Exploring and Performing texts
This unit offers students the chance to demonstrate skills in a performance environment. The knowledge and understanding gained during the study of Unit 1 can now be applied with a view to delivering a naturalistic performance. This is an external practically assessed unit, with a visiting examiner marking the performance. Students will study an entire play and then perform an extract from it lasting up to 45 minutes. A short accompanying document detailing how you have interpreted the role for performance, will also be sent to the examiner prior to the performance.
Unit 3: (40% of A Level) – Written Exam
This unit is subdivided into 2 papers each carrying an equal weighting of 20%
In section A of this paper, learners will demonstrate knowledge/understanding of how extracts from a chosen play can be rehearsed and interpreted in performance, showing an awareness of characterisation, performance style, genre and context. Students will explore the creative possibilities of staging the two different performance texts which explore a specific theme through a series of practical workshops to prepare for the examination
Section B focuses on the analysis of a live piece of theatre seen during the course. Students will be required to deconstruct the theatrical elements employed by the company and the effects this may have on audience members. Learners will also be challenged to consider how characters can be interpreted and developed for performance.
Deconstructing texts for performance
In this paper, students will explore the creative possibilities of staging the chosen performance text, prescribed by the examination board. Although this component is also assessed through a written exam, preparation will consist of extensive practical study through workshops. Learners are required to explore the performance text practically through the role of the director, deconstructing the text and exploring how any of its scenes can be staged and performed for an audience. Learners will analyse and interpret the performance text in depth.
Careers and High Education
Employers actively look for Drama and Theatre Studies qualifications because of the wealth of transferable skills acquired whilst studying. The course can also lead to many of the following specific related careers: An Actor, Stage Management, Technical and Lighting director Costume designer, Theatre and Arts management, Director, Playwright, Script Writer for TV, Radio and Film, Drama therapist, Youth officer, Community Theatre, Prop maker, Scene/Set designer or even a Teacher.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being” – Oscar Wilde