Over recent years, Shiplake actors and actresses have gained a reputation for producing challenging, professional performances. The Drama Department is based in the College’s very own theatre, with pupils encouraged to experiment with demanding plots and imaginative staging designs in order to realise their potential. Excellent tuition and support helps pupils to develop performance and production skills to excel on the stage and behind the scenes, depending on their individual skill-sets and desires.
The Shiplake Drama Department has sole use of the Tithe Barn Theatre, located in the listed Stableyard area of the College campus. The intimate venue thrusts performers in and amongst audience members to create an enthralling atmosphere for Drama productions.
The College owns its own staging and lighting equipment to host dynamic and imaginative shows. A magnitude of props and costumes have also been acquired over the years, with pupils never shying away from the opportunity to get into character.
For whole college productions the department bring their cast to the Kenton Theatre in Henley, which gives each performer a fun yet professional experience of working in the performing arts industry.
The Drama Department works closely with professional theatre companies, local venues and theatrical equipment suppliers. This allows pupils to experience backstage tours of large London venues such as The National Theatre. In addition to backstage knowledge, it is vital that pupils see a variety of theatre styles and performances to inform their own productions. Workshops from visiting theatre companies and visits to performance-linked study days are regularly arranged.
Find out more about additional opportunities on our Co-Curricular Drama page.
Key Stage 3
Drama lessons in Years 7-9 offer pupils the opportunity to express themselves creatively on stage with the aim of developing their performance technique, as well as developing a strong theoretical knowledge of performance styles and texts. A variety of theatrical periods and genres are explored to enable pupils to discover their strengths and build the skills they need for success at GCSE.
At GCSE we study the EDUQAS specification. This specification gives pupils a broad teaching of all areas of drama including technical design, directing, playwriting and of course, acting. Pupils will visit the theatre on a number of occasions, seeing inspirational and cutting edge live performances.
To be a successful Drama student, you need to have an interest in theatre and be excited, motivated and driven to produce some amazing performances. Drama also has close links with English, so the ability to write well and study texts in detail is important. The ability to work enthusiastically and as part of a team is vital in order to achieve success, as all practical work is planned, rehearsed and performed in groups.
The course will consist of a practical element, which will take the form of both a devised and scripted performance, requiring pupils to work closely as a team to produce an innovative piece of theatre. The written element of the course will require pupils to study a published play from a director's perspective, as well as reviewing live productions in the form of an analytical theatre review.
At A Level, we currently offer EDUQAS Drama and Theatre Studies. In addition to practical performance work, the specification requires candidates to have a thorough knowledge of three set texts and the work of landmark theatre practitioners. Strong research, essay writing and analysis skills are necessary to ensure a strong result on the course, as well as outstanding commitment as pupils are required to rehearse beyond lesson times.
A passion for watching theatre is required too, as pupils must evidence inspiration from professional performances in their own written and practical work. Regular trips and digital theatre evenings take place throughout the course.
Some pupils have progressed into some of the most prestigious acting schools in the UK, and some are working in various plays around the country. But this course also enables all pupils to develop a wide range of transferable skills. Critical thinking, analytical thinking, research skills, time management, public speaking, communication skills. Completing a Drama and Theatre A Level is an excellent opportunity to prove to universities or future employers that they are accomplished public performers and collaborative workers.