All pupils in the Prep School will have a period of Drama each week, all year round. Drama is an important part of the curriculum, not only as a subject in its own right but also as a tool for helping children develop self-confidence, self-esteem, and social skills. In Drama, pupils are expected to collaborate, share ideas and work towards a common goal, often in small groups. They explore many issues, whilst expanding and encouraging the use of the imagination.
In Year 3, there are cross-curricular links with English, as the pupils explore the following texts through drama: Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So’ stories and ‘Aesop’s Fables’. Basic drama skills are introduced, such as tableaux, facial expression, and mime. As the pupil’s progress, there are opportunities for devising and mask work.
In Year 4, there are further cross-curricular links with English and History. The pupils explore Roald Dahl’s ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ practically, developing further drama skills such as improvisation, choral voice, and split stage. They go on to use drama to further enhance their understanding of ‘Romans in Britain’. Skills and techniques that are developed include thought tapping, flashbacks, and duologues.
In Year 5, poetry is the focus of one term’s work, which links to the Year 5 Showcase and Poetry Recital. Other topics are ‘Superheroes’, in which comedy, animation, and melodrama are explored, and ‘Masks’, in which pupils are taught the basics of using masks on the stage, which primarily develops movement skills.
In Year 6, pupils challenge their bodies with interesting and imaginative physical ideas and grow used to speaking and presenting material to others. They begin to think about characterisation and start to structure their own improvisations. They learn to problem-solve in a group and evaluate their own and each other’s work. Some of the skills developed include vocal expression, movement, and use of space and levels.
In Year 7, pupils cover stage positioning, focusing and the importance of eye contact. Mime skills are taught in a precise and logical way. There is work on how to make spontaneous improvisation effective as well as further work on the shaping of polished improvisation with a view to eventual devising skills. Finally, pupils will do some character work using clowning, Commedia Dell’Arte, melodrama and silent movies as the main impetus. The department owns two sets of beautiful, handmade ‘Trestle’ masks which will be used at times to further the work on Commedia Dell’Arte.
Year 8 will develop the character work into naturalism, introduce script work and refine techniques for spontaneous improvisation and devising, showing how narrative theatre and physical theatre can be used to benefit their work. By the end of Year 8, pupils should have built the skills necessary to take them on to GCSE Drama at Senior School. For each of the year groups, one term will be dedicated to production work. To see our Curriculum Map for Drama for the Lent Term 2017 please click here, and see ‘Extra-Curricular Drama’ for further information.