Drama and the Performing Arts promote self-confidence; co-operation and inventiveness encouraging and supporting everyone to explore and appreciate their own ideas and creative freedom of expression.

Drama is part of the Year 9 curriculum, and is a popular option at GCSE, with further opportunities to continue into the Sixth Form. Throughout the department the emphasis is on encouraging a high level of independence, Drama students are encouraged to be active participants in the creative process, finding their place within a team, taking risks, and daring to fail, practically realising their own ideas and recognise the achievements and creativity of others.

Theatre trips, workshops and the opportunities to talk and work alongside theatre professionals are crucial elements in the teaching and learning of theatre, which as a living art form is constantly changing. The trends and fashions of current practitioners form the basis of much of our Sixth Form work, which then influences the younger students keeping the work fresh and innovative across the age range.

Pupils have many opportunities to participate in our school productions each year. The opportunity to take centre stage and perform as a principal or a member of a committed chorus in a musical on The Auden stage is something that is seen by many as an essential part of the Gresham’s experience. Find out more about co-curricular drama here.

Theatre is, as influential theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht famously said ‘not magic but work’ though 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 Central School of Speech and Drama, RADA, LAMDA and Arts Ed to say nothing of the extraordinary high profile career of award-winning actress Olivia Colman.


Pupils in Year 9 are on an Arts Carousel with 2 or 3 lessons a week during which they are introduced to a Drama Toolkit. This establishes a foundation of skills and techniques on which to draw as they begin to create and evaluate their own work. This is embedded in a practical introduction to Theatre History, which gives students an overview of the key developments that have shaped European Theatre. Pupils are gradually introduced to the drama medium of lighting and sound and how production elements can support the creative process. Pupils begin to build a subject specific vocabulary of terms and techniques giving them a shared language when creating their own work and evaluating their performances and the work of others.

Pupils are given the opportunity to work independently within a given framework to encourage good studio practice, freedom of expression and positive critical appreciation of their own strengths and weaknesses as a student of drama, and the ability to recognise as a member of an audience what makes an effective piece of theatre.


Exam board: AQA

The course is divided into three components, which includes the study of a set text, audience experience of live theatre, devising original work and scripted performance.

Component 1: Understanding Drama Written Exam, 1 hour 45 minutes, 40%

Component 2: Devising Drama Devising Log & Devised Performance, 40%

Component 3: Texts in Practice Performance (2 extracts) to examiner, 20%

The course is excellent preparation for AQA Drama and Theatre which we offer at A level and provides students with a solid foundation in creative, practical and performance skills.

It is important for students to engage in and actively explore a wide range of activities that are stimulating and creative, drawing from a variety of situations and contexts that they can relate to.

GCSE Drama encourages students to develop critical thinking skills and become effective and independent learners. With the focus on working imaginatively, collaborating creatively and communicating effectively, GCSE Drama provides a solid foundation for further Drama studies and vocational opportunities.

The strengths of the course:

  • The freedom in the choice of texts studied so we can choose the text to suit the strengths and interests of the cohort.
  • The importance of live theatre introducing students to a range of theatre experiences.
  • The choice available in the practical work from acting to puppet making, set design to make-up.
  • Pupils are assessed for contribution and ability during the devising process of their assessed performance, as well as the design or performance itself.
  • The opportunity to work collaboratively and to communicate creatively.
  • It’s potential for a vocational career path.

This specification helps students to develop their:

  • Knowledge and understanding of style, genre and social context;
  • Performance techniques – interpretation, improvisation, voice, physicality, stage relationships with others;
  • Design skills – interpretation, visual and design impacts and the use of scenic devices;
  • Technical abilities – lighting, sound, technology and appropriate equipment;
  • Practical skills – from making masks and puppets to make-up;
  • Collaboration and communication skills;
  • Enquiring and reflective minds;
  • Independent thinking and working.

Entry requirements: None required, though a good pass at GCSE Drama, evidence of active participation in productions and a genuine enthusiasm for all aspects of the subject are expected.

A level Drama and Theatre Studies helps students to pursue their interests and skills in a range of practical drama elements including: acting, directing, technical-lighting and sound, design-set, costume, make-up and mask.

A level Drama is for pupils who enjoy creating their own work, reading plays, watching and exploring the work and ideas of theatre makers, and taking an active part in the practical exploration of theatre in performance as actors, directors and designers. The course makes full use of our excellent facilities such as the Auden Theatre.

The subject content for A level drama and Theatre is divided into Three components; Drama and Theatre; Creating Original Drama and Making Theatre.


Entry requirements: None required, though a good pass at GCSE Drama, evidence of active participation in productions and a genuine enthusiasm for all aspects of the subject are expected.

The IB Diploma Programme Theatre Course is a multifaceted theatre-making course of study. It gives pupils the opportunity to make theatre as creators, designers, directors and performers. It emphasises the importance of working both individually and collaboratively as part of an ensemble. It offers the opportunity to engage actively in the creative process, transforming ideas into action as inquisitive and productive artists.

Pupils experience the IB Theatre course from contrasting artistic perspectives. They learn to apply research and theory to inform and to contextualize their work. The theatre course encourages pupils to appreciate that through the processes of researching, creating, preparing, presenting and critically reflecting on theatre – as participants and audience members – they gain a richer understanding of themselves, their community and the world.

Through the study of theatre, pupils become aware of their own personal and cultural perspectives, developing an appreciation of the diversity of theatre practices, their processes and their modes of presentation. It enables pupils to discover and engage with different forms of theatre across time, place and culture and promotes international-mindedness. Click here for more information.

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A level
IB Diploma