Ashbourne’s dynamic Drama department offers GCSE students a fantastic opportunity to write and perform their own material, direct and design and try out a diverse range of theatre styles such as physical theatre, ensemble storytelling and puppetry. They also get to meet and work with professional actors and companies such as the acclaimed theatre groups Frantic Assembly and Complicité.
Drama students are invited to showcase their talents at the college’s annual performing arts event, the Ashbourne Revue. They will also put on their final exam pieces at the New Diorama Theatre, just off Regent’s Park, assisted by professional technicians and designers.
With such a superb selection of live performance on offer in London, students will get plenty of opportunities during the course to experience some great theatre.
Drama is about expression and creativity, collaboration, sharing stories and experiences, finding common ground, challenging and changing the way people think and scrutinising your own beliefs and behaviour. The skills you learn from this course go far beyond technique, analysis and writing. You will develop a greater sense of confidence, empathy and adventure that will serve you throughout your life. And it’s so much fun.
Ashbourne follows the AQA syllabus for GCSE Drama.
This course combines the theory and practice of drama and theatre. It is split into three components: Understanding drama, Devising drama and Texts in practice.
Students expand their knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre in this component, studying Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers as their main text.
Blood Brothers by Willy Russell
Mikey and Edward, twins separated at birth, reunite at the age of seven and become Blood Brothers. As they get older differences in their social upbringing begin to create deep rifts in their relationship and ultimately lead to their tragic deaths.
Willy Russell’s musical is set in a time of social and political upheaval in 1960s Liverpool and addresses issues of injustice and social inequality.
Building structure, bringing pace and rhythm, exploring character behaviour, creating mood and atmosphere and understanding proxemics (positioning of actors on the stage) are just some of the techniques students will learn in order to create powerful theatre productions.
To bring depth and life to their performances students will draw on the social, cultural and historical contexts and conventions of the period in which plays were created. They will also explore how physical expression, audience rapport, props and effects, and other methods can help tell a story and convey meaning.
By exploring the roles of each member of the production – from playwright and performer to set designer and technician – students get a broader understanding of how a production team works together. They will also get the chance to perform different roles offering them insight into where their professional passions may lie in the future. They will develop an excellent grasp of theatre terminology like upstage, promenade and theatre in the round, and how to use it.
Tragedy, epic theatre, melodrama and physical theatre are just a few of the genres and styles students can choose from to create their own live performance. Taking inspiration from a poem, piece of sculpture or historical event, for example, students explore and develop ideas that they will create into a final piece.
Each student chooses to be either performer or designer (e.g. sound, light, set, costume, puppet) in the production and will showcase their ability to convey meaning, apply their theatrical skills and fulfil their artistic intentions within their chosen role.
Students will carry out their own research, develop ideas and continually analyse and evaluate their own progress in a written log as well as collaborate with others to plan, rehearse and fine tune their production.
The final assessed piece, either duologue or group, will be performed in front of a live audience.
Things I know to be true by Andrew Bovell
Bob and Fran have devoted themselves to their four children, offering them the opportunities they never had. Just when they are ready to sit back and and smell the roses of their success they are plunged into a family drama of unspoken truths and revelations.
Things I know to be true explores the complexity of family relationships and dynamics and of finding your own place in the world. It is set in Adelaide, Australia and was first performed there as a physical theatre production by Frantic Assembly and State Theatre of South Australia in 2016.
Each student chooses their role as performer or designer (e.g. sound, light, set, costume, puppet), as part of a team, to perform two extracts from Andrew Bovell’s Things I know to be true. This gives them the chance to show off their skills of interpretation, ability to convey meaning and success in achieving what they set out to do.
BA Education with English and Drama (Cambridge University); Undergraduate Foundation in English Literature (Oxford University; dept for continuing eduction)
Liv is an actor, director and drama teacher with ten years’ industry experience. She was the Artistic Director for theatre at The In The Woods Festival for five years, receiving coverage in publications including The Evening Standard and Teen Vogue and working alongside producer Tom Bevan (SIX The Musical). As actor, she has worked with directors including Dirk Maggs (BBC/Baker St) and as panellist, has been invited to speak alongside Sir Trevor Nunn. She has worked as a producer on films featuring Ruth Wilson, Jude Law and The Belarus Free Theatre. Whilst at Cambridge, Olivia was nominated for the Footlights’ Writing Prize. She will be looking to get as many Ashbourne students as possible involved in comedy.