Drama (academic)

Find out more about studying Drama (academic) at Westminster

Drama (academic)

  • About
  • Curriculum
  • Enrichment
  • Staff
  • After Westminster
  • About

    Drama is a creatively fulfilling and intellectually demanding subject that is highly valued at Westminster. The course develops practical, creative and communication skills and offers the pupils the opportunity to extend and refine their individual performance skills. Ensemble work is essential, as it hones and develops their understanding of what it takes to work with others and become a team player. Drama is both challenging and immensely rewarding, and it allows pupils to extend their ability to create drama, in both performing and production roles. Former Westminster pupils who have entered the world of Drama include Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Brook, Alfred Enoch, Sir John Gielgud, Stephen Poliakoff, Imogen Stubbs and Sir Peter Ustinov.

    Department Contact Mr Paul Tully
    paul.tully@westminster.org.uk
  • Curriculum
    Lower School

    We begin Fifth Form (Year 9) Drama, with some basic questions: what is Drama; what can it do? Why is theatre so important? How can it benefit them, and what skills does one need to be effective in it? These questions are ongoing and encourage pupils to respect the craft and consider the position of Drama in society. 

    During their first term, pupils are introduced to various theatrical skills including: storytelling, illusionary mime and character work. These skills in movement, voice and character encourage them to present their ideas theatrically and thoughtfully. Pupils evaluate the effectiveness of their own work and that of others, showing a heightened awareness of what is being communicated either intentionally or not. A highlight of the term is the Elizabethan Festival, a week in which pupils rehearse a piece of Shakespeare with a professional director and perform to an audience on the final night. These performances have proved a terrific experience for pupils, boosting their confidence, teamwork and performance skills. During the remainder of the year, pupils are introduced to elements of the GCSE specification, including text work and devising their own piece. 

    Pupils who choose to take Drama GCSE build a practical understanding of drama over the period of the course, and apply this knowledge to their performances. GCSE Drama pupils can elect to be a performer or to take on the role of a designer in lighting, sound, set or costume. The AQA GCSE has three modules: Understanding Drama (40%), Devising Drama (40%) and Texts in Practice (20%). In these modules pupils study one set play: they develop ideas of how they would approach it in a realisation for the stage, in a live performance as an actor, a director, or a designer. They also write an evaluation of a piece of live theatre. These written elements of the course constitute the written exam. Pupils also create a piece of devised Drama for an audience, accompanied by a written portfolio in which they analyse how their piece has grown and developed throughout the process. At the end of the course, they will perform two extracts from a published play to a visiting examiner and an audience. 

    Syllabus & Code
    AQA GCSE 8621 Drama
    Upper School

    A Level Drama pupils take three modules: Drama and Theatre (40%), Creating Original Drama (30%) and Making Theatre (30%). During the two-year course, pupils learn to collaborate with others, to think analytically, and to evaluate effectively their own creative processes and the work of theatre makers. They gain the confidence to pursue their own ideas by creating an original theatre piece inspired by the methodologies of a theatre practitioner, to evaluate live theatre, and to approach two set texts from the perspective of an actor, designer, and director, developing a strong understanding of the playwrights’ original intentions and the social, historical and cultural contexts of the plays. Additionally, they explore and workshop extracts from three contrasting plays, performing one of these extracts for an external examiner and writing coursework chronicling their practical processes for all three extracts. Pupils also practically study the techniques of many theatrical practitioners, and they attend many live performances in both the West End and on the fringe to develop their understanding of the different genres of theatre.  

    Syllabus & Code
    AQA A Level 7262 Drama and Theatre Studies
    Sixth Form Entry
    Subject requirements for the course
    It is desirable for pupils to have taken the (I)GCSE in Drama and be on track to receive a grade 8 or 9. That said, pupils who do not have the (I)GCSE will still be considered. In this respect, the main requirement is a real interest in and passion for all aspects of theatre and a willingness to work as a team player, to take direction and to invest in taking risks with performance.

    Entrance Examination

    Prospective pupils will be asked to write a live theatre evaluation addressing performance or design skills. The performance can be one in which they were involved, either on stage or backstage. Successful candidates will be asked to attend an interview, to discuss their ideas and thoughts on Drama as well as sight read from a play.

    Overseas Candidates
    There is no (I)GCSE requirement for those who attend schools overseas that do not prepare pupils for (I)GCSE examinations. Candidates will be considered for a place based on their live theatre evaluation and a transcript of results from their current school.
  • Enrichment

    Pupils in the Lower School have the opportunity to continue and develop their skills in Drama through the Lower School Activities programme. During the autumn term, our Director in Residence runs a weekly session with an emphasis on serious fun and collaboration, followed by rehearsals and then performances in June.

    The whole-school musical performed in the spring term is a fantastic opportunity for pupils to be involved in Drama. The department also runs a variety of plays throughout the year and each year we hold a Sixth Form Drama Festival for Year 12 pupils to be involved in.

  • Staff

    * denotes Head of Department
    † denotes Housemaster

    Mr Peter Chequer (PJC) — Director of Drama  *
    Miss Annie Graham-Brown (AGB) — Academic Drama
    Mr Geraint Owen (GLO) — Director in Residence
    Mr Paul Tully (PCT) — Head of Academic Drama  *
  • After Westminster

    The A Level can lead to further study of Drama at university, or to a vocational course at Drama School in Acting, Stage Management or Direction. Each year, one or two Westminster pupils go on to Drama Schools, with a view to entering the theatre, film or television professions, and a number have gone on to make very successful careers. A Level Drama and Theatre Studies pupils at Westminster School have also gone on to study Law, English, History, Theology or Classics at university, subjects that draw upon and link to skills and knowledge developed on the A Level course. Drama and Theatre Studies complements a range of subjects and is useful in building confidence and developing excellent presentation skills for any career. It allows for active analysis of human behaviour and experience, through improvisation, devised performance and study of dramatic texts. There are single or combined honours courses in Drama at many high-ranking universities, commonly in conjunction with English. There is a very good course at Cambridge called English and Drama with Education Studies, which has a strong practical Drama component.

Co-curricular Drama
Co-curricular Drama

Find out about the opportunities to take part in Drama within the co-curriculum.

"I now know that giving the right impression and having some knowledge of how your looks and actions will be interpreted by others is crucial to social and career success. I use what I have learnt in my History lessons most days at Oxford – I use what I have learnt in Drama every day."

— Former pupil

Find out when your child is able to join the School using the personalised age checker and timeline.

read more →

Westminster School gratefully welcomes donations to support fundraising efforts across the School community.

read more →