Drama is taught throughout the school to A-level and is a popular option choice. There are two subject teachers and three peripatetic members of staff.
Private Speech and Drama classes are available to pupils from Year 7 and above. Girls can be entered for examinations in Acting or the speaking of Verse and Prose held by 'The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art’ (LAMDA).
The aims of the department are:
• To develop enjoyment, understanding, skill and imagination in making and responding to drama
• To develop pupils’ confidence and skill in performing
• To enable pupils to become familiar with a body of knowledge, principles, skills, techniques and vocabulary related to drama, thus extending pupils’ awareness of drama as a major cultural feature
• To develop pupils’ understanding of how to analyse and appreciate drama as an art form
• To provide opportunities for pupils to experience live theatre
Years 7 - 9
Pupils in Years 7 – 9 receive one hour-long lesson of drama each week. Classes are timetabled in form groups.
The schemes of work for Years 7 – 9 introduce pupils to a wide range of performance styles. The aim is to develop pupils’ confidence in creating, performing and responding to drama. The curriculum is designed to provide structured progression, enabling pupils to access the higher-level skills required at GCSE and A-level.
Units of work include: improvisation, characterisation, melodrama, physical theatre and devised and scripted work.
Years 10 - 11
Pupils in Years 10 and 11 study the AQA syllabus, which encompasses a strong practical element (60%) in addition to a written examination (40%). Pupils will produce devised and scripted performances and will study a set text from a performance perspective. In addition, there will be opportunities to see live theatre productions and complete written reviews.
Years 12 - 13
Pupils in Years 12 & 13 study the AQA syllabus for A Level Drama and Theatre Studies. Over the two year course, pupils will explore set plays and analyse a range of live theatre productions to complete the written examinations, worth 40% of the final mark. They will also produce two practical performances; one scripted and one devised, which will equate to 60% of the final mark. Pupils will study and explore the work of influential directors and/or theatre practitioners and analyse the work of performers, designers and directors when creating live theatre.
Drama is taught in a Drama Studio with a computerised lighting system.
The school show is one of the main highlights of the school calendar. In 2016, we embarked on our most ambitious project to date - 'The Raft' - aiming to devise a production based on the refugee crisis, weaving together real-life stories and up to date facts and using physical theatre and video imagery to tell our unique story. This was received with critical acclaim and was shortlisted for consideration in the National Student Drama Festival 2016.
Previous productions have included 'These Shining Lives', 'Macbeth', DNA' by Dennis Kelly and 'Pat and Margaret' by Victoria Wood. In addition, we host GCSE and A-level drama performance evenings and hold an annual Drama Competition.
Every other year we also produce a large full-scale musical in conjunction with the music department. In 2017, this was the upbeat, toe-tapping extravaganza, 'High School Musical'. Previous musical productions include: 'Bugsy Malone', 'Hairspray', 'West Side Story' and 'My Fair Lady'. In conjunction with the music department, we hold annual cabaret evenings to showcase the breadth of talent in music, drama and dance.
In 2018, Epic and Ensemble drama clubs will work together to produce a performance of the critically acclaimed 'Our Country's Good' by Timberlake Wertenbaker.
Ensemble Drama Club is open to pupils in Years 7 and 9. This is an after-school drama club designed to develop pupils’ acting ability through skill-based workshops and also to enhance their performance skills through participation in whole-school productions. Most recently, in our devised production of ‘The Raft’ in 2016 and for this year, in our production of ‘Our Country’s Good’.
Epic Drama Club is open to pupils in Years 9 –13. Pupils have the opportunity to devise their own performances, experiment with different dramatic styles and techniques and hone their performing skills. After the critical acclaim received for our performance of ‘The Raft’, which was shortlisted for consideration for the National Student Drama Festival in 2016, we are now tackling the A Level text ‘Our Country’s Good’.
Drama Fun is a lunchtime club for Years 7 and 8, where pupils can play drama games, explore scripted extracts and produce improvisations.
Practitioner Club is our new drama club, run by sixth formers for Years 10-13. They aim to inspire and educate pupils in the work of some of our famous theatre practitioners including Stanislavski, Brecht, Artaud and Frantic Assembly.
Theatre visits and workshops
We organise regular theatre visits and arrange for theatre companies to visit the school. Most recently we have been to The Young Vic in London to see Brecht's 'The Life of Galileo'; to Theatre Clwyd to see Kneehigh’s acclaimed performance of ‘Tristan and Yseult' and to The Lowry Theatre to see 'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time' and 'Things I know to be true' by Frantic Assembly.
To extend our pupils knowledge and experience of theatre, we also offer additional opportunities to meet and work with visiting actors and casting directors. In the Autumn of 2016, a practitioner from Frantic Assembly came in to run physical theatre workshops with our GCSE and A-level pupils. In the summer term 2015, we had Salford TV workshop and Kerrie Mailey Casting come in and teach students about TV and film acting and audition techniques.
The Queen’s School actors and musicians have been at the heart of one of Chester’s greatest community events – the Chester mystery plays, performed in June and July 2013. Honoured with the task of engaging audiences during the pre-show and interval times, Queens’ girls produced a selection of thought provoking dramatic performances whilst our musicians entertained with individual repertoire pieces.
What our pupils say about drama
'The lessons are really exciting and dynamic and there’s always something going on in the lessons and at lunchtimes.'
'Drama is the lesson I look forward to all week.'
'Drama is a fun, challenging and thought-provoking subject.'
'Drama GCSE has been extremely rewarding. It has given us a chance to express ourselves and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.'
Read an interview with Head of Drama Mrs Larder here.