Co-curricular Drama at Gresham’s aims to produce imaginative, challenging and rewarding experiences for both our audience and the pupils involved onstage, backstage and front of house.

A large number of pupils participate in our main school productions every year and taking part is, for many, a real highlight of their time at Gresham’s and an essential part of the Gresham’s experience. They have the opportunity to take centre stage and perform as a principal or a member of a committed ensemble or become an essential part of our backstage team in a production on The Auden stage. Drama productions have included The 39 Steps, Around the World in 80 Days, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and most recently The Government Inspector. Musicals have included Sweet Charity, We Will Rock You, Little Shop Of Horrors and most recently Phantom of the Opera.

Our pupils take responsibility for every aspect of production from the hospitality of our Front of House stewards to the unsung heroes of our production teams specialising in design, technical and stage management who, under the supervision of our professional technical team, gain the confidence and skills to produce the set and props, help with costume and make-up, operate the lighting and projections and run sound or work in the wings as crew.

We are fortunate in having a very well-equipped and versatile space in The Auden Theatre which is home to the Drama Department and is both an extraordinary teaching space for the academic courses we offer and a wonderful venue for our own productions and those of the music department and the wider school community. We have three major productions during the year the Lower School drama show in the Michaelmas Term, a whole school musical in Lent and we go outdoors in the summer to our beautiful outdoor theatre for our Theatre in the Woods performance. Alongside these core performances we run a series of smaller scale productions including regular Page to Stage evenings to showcase a range of work chosen by the students, our unsettling outdoor promenade FrightNight and the amazing Ten-Minute Play Competition where students write an original play then produce, direct and act creatingan extraordinary range of new writing from comedy to domestic tragedy. This is all in addition to our A level and IB Theatre  and GCSE Drama exam performances making the department a busy, diverse and exciting place to be.

The Auden Theatre is a professional and versatile venue for our own productions but we are also a recognised mid-scale receiving house and one of the key venues, alongside our beautiful Theatre in the Woods, for the Holt Festival. The range, scale and variety of performances to which our pupils have access throughout the year is developing and aims to provide an extra artistic and cultural dimension to their term time experience and that of the wider community.

Participation in co-curricular Drama is very popular with large casts and crews signing up for the productions and pupils making the most of the opportunities offered. As influential theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht famously said, theatre “Is work not magic my friend” but the rewards are undeniable and though we work hard in rehearsal, we play hard too. Former pupils from the last ten years are currently studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, RADA, LAMDA and Arts Ed. From the extraordinary high-profile career of award winning actress Olivia Colman to the innovative successes of Curious Directive led by Greshamian director Jack Lowe Greshamians are actively making their mark, telling stories and getting their voices heard as actors on stage and film, producers and playwrights, technicians and stage managers and designers.

“Gresham’s, in many ways made me the person I am today. It was the first place I ever acted. Crucially, it was the first place I wanted to act. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been an actor at all if it weren’t for Gresham’s.”

(OAKeLEY, 1992)

“Annual musical theatre and regular drama productions deploy the skills and talents of high numbers of pupils, on stage and behind the scenes, culminating in high-quality performances.”