It is an exciting time for Drama at Brentwood School. The subject is enjoying the natural resurgence that comes with a new, highly skilled and industry trained teaching team as well as being a crucial part of the recently formed Performing Arts Faculty. As the Faculty strives to produce co-curricular work of the highest quality, Drama curriculum is looking to do exactly the same. There is a wealth of teaching talent available to our students and with professional workshops, nearly twenty trips a year, small class sizes, contact with National Theatre, RSC and West End directors, actors and producers and a curriculum designed to challenge pupils up to Drama school level, the future is very bright. Indeed, Drama and Theatre at Brentwood School is absolutely thriving. In the past 18 months there has been a 240% increase in participation in Drama and Theatre curriculum (GCSE, A Level and IB) and a co-curricular increase of a staggering 420%.
What skills will this subject help you develop?
In seeking to realise a role and understand a play text, students hone skills of close-reading and analysis which are extremely useful in studying English Literature and other essay subjects. The written elements of the courses enable students to develop their ability to express themselves clearly and coherently on paper. Many Drama and Theatre students have gone on to Oxbridge and top Russell Group universities to study Literature, PPS, Medicine as well as an array of other subjects where the skills learnt in the Drama studio are seen as crucial and, importantly, transferable. We have a range of comment from Cambridge University admissions tutors and English professors lauding Drama and Theatre as a curriculum subject because of the skills it instils in students.
Drama is fundamentally about communication and a good Theatre student excels in this area. He or she can thus be an asset in a business meeting, promotional setting or any context where persuasion and clear explanation are important, which includes virtually all areas of human contact. Drama also teaches a number of other skills including vocal awareness and clarity and the ability to work well as part of a team. Much of the time students spend is as part of an ensemble, developing devised work and helping one another to achieve their full potential. Students learn to set clear aims and goals, then work together to achieve them.
What opportunities are there available to students in the department?
Students are encouraged to involve themselves in a wide variety of productions, both on stage and behind it. These include:
- The Junior Musical (First and Second Year), with this year’s Peter Pan being the first. Miss Passmore makes her directorial debut with a wonderful new adaptation (Book by Miss Passmore, music and lyrics by Mrs Khoo)
- Our now annual whole school Musical which takes place in December. Last year saw almost 100 students take part in Fame, led by Catty Holden (L6), directed by Mr Bulmer with Mr Cooper as Musical Director. The 2015 version was a 200+ student West Side Story. The same creative team will be working on Chicago in time for Christmas this year
- The Senior play (Fifth and Sixth Form) – this year saw Miss Worth’s outstanding Love and Information following Mrs Cleaves’ stark and affecting The Birthday Party in 2016
- The Middles play (Second-Fourth Year) – In March we witnessed the petrifyingly excellent production of Lord of the Flies directed by Mr Murley and Mrs Cleaves after last year’s magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Miss Worth
- We also stage all of our curriculum work to substantial, invited audiences. Recent productions include A Clockwork Orange, Twelfth Night, Crossfire, Attempts on Her Life, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), Blue Remembered Hills, Kinder Transport, Girls Like That and the Upper Sixth and Fifth Year devised pieces and the Third and Fourth Year scripted showcases. All of which will be produced to the highest possible standard
- The Sixth Form only production, last year saw Jonathan Ditmore (U6) direct The 39 Steps and in a few weeks Olivia Harrison (L6) will be directing That Face
- The Junior Drama Club stage three shows a year
- We have a biennial First Year Drama showcase week in which all First formers perform in one of ten plays in the Memorial Hall
- Our recently employed Technical Manager runs two weekly Tech clubs, one for seniors and another for juniors. Our students will receive a very hands on education in technical theatre design and operation
The Drama department runs regular theatre trips – around twenty a year. Recent shows include The Last Witch of Wanderk, Measure for Measure, Curious Incident, The Vaults Festival, Aladdin, School of Rock, The Crucible, This House, Hedda Gabler, 1984 and Kneehigh Theatre.
The department has regular visits from well-known theatre groups such as Trestle and Riotous Assembly who conduct workshops which greatly enhance our students’ performance skills. This term we will welcome Out of Joint and Frantic Assembly.