A level Drama and Theatre Studies course

Ashbourne’s Drama department has blossomed over the years and now offers students excellent opportunities to write and perform their own productions, meet actors, directors, writers and many others working in theatre today and experience a broad spectrum of live performance at many of London’s world class venues. As part of the course students will perform their own work at the New Diorama Theatre, just off Regent’s Park, assisted by professional technicians and designers.

Ashbourne offers plenty of other performance opportunities including at competitions. Our A level Drama & Theatre Studies students scooped three awards in the ISA Drama Festival (2019): Hurst Lodge Award for best senior production, Margaret Milner-Williams Medal for best senior boy performer and the Hollygirt Prize for best moment of theatre in senior production. The competition included around 500 independent and specialist performing arts schools from across the country.

Life of a Drama student at Ashbourne

Over the course students will get to see a huge variety of live performance including cutting edge fringe productions by new writers at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, evocative physical theatre by companies like Frantic Assembly and sell out shows like Sarah Kane’s controversial In-yer-face play ‘Cleansed’ at the National, as well as traditional and fringe theatre at the Royal Court, Young Vic, Old Vic and Battersea Arts Centre.

Ashbourne Drama students are given a high level of automony in preparing for their examination performances and consistently achieve outstanding results. They also gain an excellent grasp of the diversity of theatre, theory and performance.

They will also get the chance to come centre stage at Ashbourne’s very popular annual Revue where students and staff from across the college get to showcase their talents and skills in the end-of-year extravaganza.

Ashbourne Revue highlights, 2018

Why study A level Drama and Theatre Studies?

Drama is about learning how to find connections with other people, sharing experiences through story, expressing ideas and challenging beliefs. It can force you to reflect on your own views and may even shape them.

Whether you’re a born actor, writer, director or designer you will discover a wealth of techniques and ideas to bring your scripts alive, make your performances to die for and your productions hard-hitting or side splitting.

By developing your writing, speaking and analytical skills through this course you will also enhance other areas of study. Engaging and participating in drama will help build your confidence and allow you to explore and develop your interests and passions.

Drama and Theatre Studies has become a highly respectable A level over the last decade and is valued both in the Arts and Humanities.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for Drama and Theatre Studies AS level and A level.

What is covered in the course?

This is a linear course with three examined components: Drama and theatre (analysis and theory), Creating original drama (practical) and Making theatre (practical).

Drama and theatreCreating original dramaMaking theatre
Proxemics – the positioning of actors on stage, learning techniques to create pace and climax, building structure into a story and giving it social, cultural and historical context are just a few of the processes you will discover that go towards making, performing, interpreting and understanding drama and theatre.

You will explore and analyse two texts selected to introduce you to contrasting theatre styles: Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth and Meditations on Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff.

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
“On St. George’s Day, the morning of the local county fair, Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, local waster and modern day Pied Piper, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his son wants him to take him to the fair, Troy Whitworth wants to give him a serious kicking, and a motley crew of mates want his ample supply of drugs and alcohol.”

Jerusalem is a modern satire that shatters the idealised image of rural England and exposes the realities of petty bureaucracy, a culture of under-age drinking and drug abuse, corporate take over and dysfunctional families, as well as the more visible decay of villages and towns, and pits Johnny Byron as the unlikely ‘hero’.

Meditations on Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff
Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Kafka’s classic fable has evolved over ten productions of the play, first performed in 1969, by his contrasting and development of rehearsal techniques and performance styles.

Kafka’s story is of a young man who wakes one morning to find he has transformed into a large insect and begins to dissect his feelings of inadequacy, isolation and guilt as he is abandoned and alienated by family and friends.

In this component you get to create your own masterpiece in the style of your chosen playwright, director or theatre company and perform it at the Diorama Theatre. You could go all out and produce a Brechtian epic or an intense Sarah Kane ‘In-yer-face’-style physical theatre performance.

Choose and interpret three extracts of your favourite text(s) for this component and perform your strongest piece at the Diorama Theatre. Your final piece will be formally examined.

You may specialise in performing, lighting, sound, set, costume, puppets and/or directing.

Who teaches this course?

Daniel Kedge

MA Drama in secondary education (Middlesex University); PGCE Drama (Middlesex University); BA Hons Drama with English Literature (Kingston University)
Daniel is passionate about all things theatre and has directed his own productions including at Edinburgh Fringe festival. He has been teaching drama and preparing students for exams for the last eight years at comprehensive schools in London. He joined Ashbourne’s Drama department in 2018.

Beyond A level Drama and Theatre Studies

With your new-found drama skills you could go on to play leading roles at the National, go underground with your cutting edge scripts, tell stories through movement, or puppets, keep the show on the road back stage, create spectacular costumes and sets, produce dramatic effect with your lighting and sound and so much more.

London has a wide variety of dedicated Drama colleges including RADA, Lamda, Guildhall, Central School of Speech and Drama and Drama Centre London to which you can apply. Many universities also offer Performing Arts degree courses.

Drama and Theatre Studies A level will also enable you to apply for other Arts and Humanities subjects like English, Film, History, Art and Design.

Suggested reading and resources

What’s onTheatresBookshopsDrama schools

Check out what’s on and where in London every week, plus reviews.

Jez Butterworth’s modern satire.

New Diorama Theatre
Promotes new and established theatre companies. Ashbourne students will perform their own productions at this theatre.

Frantic Assembly
Vivid and dynamic physical theatre that combines movement, design, music and text.

National Theatre Bookshop
Browse through a huge selection of plays and books on theatre at the National Theatre on the Southbank.

Royal Court Theatre Bookshop
Great value plays and plenty of new writing. Situated in Sloane Square.

Wide range of plays and books on theatre and theory.

Scheme of work

Why Choose Ashbourne College?
My time at Ashbourne was a fun and exciting experience. It had a very relaxed atmosphere which helped me settle in very well. The College’s approach to teaching in the classrooms was very different to traditional 6th form Colleges and a lot more informal which I believe was a great aid in developing my skills in independent study. During my time as a student at Ashbourne, I was passionate about physics and maths as well as music. My teachers and other staff members were very supportive of this and were an incredible assistance in helping me find an ideal course at university which catered to my interest. Thanks to Ashbourne I went on to do a joint degree in Physics and Music at Cardiff University. I graduated in 2018 and have remained at Cardiff to do a masters in Astrophysics.
AmyBSc in Physics and Music and MA in Astrophysics at Cardiff University
Our daughter has surely improved her knowledge in the chosen subjects but also her ability in dealing with her everyday life
If I had to describe Ashbourne in three words it would be welcoming, intimate, and fun. I have never met such an eclectic group of people who all get on and are integrated with each other so well. It’s a great opportunity to get the grades that you want alongside gaining confidence and maturity
Emily BoothroydFormer Administrative and Behavioural Assistant and PA to the Director of Studies