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Drama at Downside provides opportunities for students to get involved in all aspects of Theatre Making. LAMDA lessons enable students to build confidence and work on their acting skills, performance and character development as well as build confidence. We also train our students to operate the sound and lighting equipment so that we have a crew of interested, technically-minded students who are responsible for, and take leadership in, running productions and shows.

Leadership opportunities in Drama include developing student directors to co-direct or take responsibility for smaller productions. Students are encouraged to be autonomous in developing their own artistry, such as in cabaret evenings which showcase a range of Performing Arts talents. The Department is responsive to the students’ own interests and invites students to contribute to decisions on productions and other opportunities. We also offer Theatre visits throughout the year and invite scholars, academic students and anyone interested in seeing live theatre.

Drama in the Curriculum

Drama is part of academic curriculum lessons in years 1-3 and all students receive a one-hour lesson per week in mixed sets. The curriculum explores a range of themes and skills and is topic based.


The 1F curriculum introduces students to site specific and Verbatim drama techniques. Our schemes of work begin with a topic called The Graveyard looking at themes of Death, social issues and collective responsibility and moves into Verbatim Theatre looking at true accounts of those who experienced war. Our on-site war memorial and corridor of photographs of OGs killed on active duty provide inspiration.

We then look at puppetry and the importance of narrative and story-telling before moving on to non verbal communication and physical theatre techniques and mime. The year ends looking at Epic stories and Greek Theatre.


Our schemes of work for the 2F include Physical Theatre and looking at Folk tales and the legend of Bluebeard. We then move into an immersive scheme of work with teacher and pupils in role looking at The Baby on the Beach and the Museum of Broken Relationships. This unit brings together immigrant stories with abstract techniques and pupils in role as experts. Students use symbolism and emotional empathy to explore real life topical issues in this term of work.

Stanislavskina monologues; Brechtian techniques and moral dilemmas and a scheme of work called the Night Bus exploring missing people and looking at character development techniques takes us through the rest of the year.


An exploration of using masks kicks off Drama in the Third Form. Students use Tresle Masks to look at non-verbal expression and communication, the importance of music to story telling and comedy techniques. They then develop their understanding of physical theatre using the techniques of Frantic Assembly to devise their own work. Brecht and Epic Theatre, with an insight into his play The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, allows students to explore the connections between theatre and politics as well as looking at alientation techniques and studying a key practitioner. An immersive project looking at social Drama with the real life case of Derek and Bentley explores symbolism and the use of space as well as abstract ideas to convey difficult themes. The year finishes with a focus on the voice and looking at radio plays.


Drama GCSE is a new course for 2022 and we deliver the Edexcel syllabus. The opportunities for students to develop their practical skills takes them through a range of material as well as a requirement to devise their own work, inspired by a practitioner and a key text. Students study whole plays and look at the role of all key Theatre Makers, both theoretically and through watching and participating in live performance. They are also introduced to Theatre history and are expected to draw on their growing knowledge of Theatre Makers past and present and to develop their work so that it is relevant and in touch with the world in which they live.

A level

The A level follows on from GCSE level work with practical performance elements that include scripted and devised work as well as the opportunity to develop design portfolios. The study of set texts, watching and critiquing live theatre and approaching plays as a director, performer and designer create an holistic approach to this academically challenging and practically demanding A level.

Drama Scholarships

Our scholarship programme is also in development and takes students from audition to opportunities to perform and develop backstage knowledge in all productions. Scholars are expected to be involved in every production whether on or off stage and they are encouraged to reflect on and develop their own path. They attend theatre trips throughout the year, receive LAMDA lessons and have mentoring. They are also kept informed of events and opportunities outside of school such as National Youth Theatre Auditions and casting calls like those recently for The Crown.

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