A level Drama and Theatre Studies

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.

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, 2016

Why study Drama and Theatre Studies?

All the world is a stage – William Shakespeare
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?

Frances Burns

BA History and Drama (Liverpool); Master of Fine Arts Drama (Ohio)

Fran is Ashbourne’s Deputy Head of Middle School and teaches Drama and Theatre Studies.

Fran Burns studied Drama at Liverpool and was awarded a scholarship for a professional actor training program at Masters Level in America. She spent many years working as a professional actor and voice over artist both in the States and the UK, touring across America and as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company Winter Visitors Seasons.

Fran has been teaching Drama for many years now – and still finds it as exciting, creatively challenging and vital as ever. One of the main reasons for this is that Drama is one of the few subjects where students and teachers truly learn together on every piece of work they develop.

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?
Choosing to study at Ashbourne was one of my best decisions because I was so well cared for both academically and personally. This was especially true in preparing for my interview at Cambridge, for which I received a lot of help from my Personal Tutor
ThongMedicine at St George's Hospital Medical School (University of London)
She feels well respected as a pupil and gets the assistance she needs to understand the material
I have had a very valuable experience working at Ashbourne. I feel lucky that I got such a great opportunity to deal with different kinds of jobs which include; document preparations, helping at some organised opening evenings or dealing with students’ enquiries. Having a chance to deal with these tasks I feel that I have already gained a lot of valuable improvements in the skills which are needed in a college administrative working environment. The Ashbourne staff are very friendly and helpful. They never hesitated to give me advice on the jobs I was doing and what I should and should not do. I can not thank them enough for such great help and experience during all those times I was working at Ashbourne
Kim Anh TranFormer Part-Time Administrative Assistant