In addition to an excellent academic department offering pupils the opportunity to study Drama at GCSE and A Level, there are a range of additional opportunities for passionate young performers to explore and experiment with the subject beyond the constraints of the curriculum.


Dramatists at Shiplake College have 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 productions.

Pupils are often encouraged to experiment with imaginative staging designs to fully utilise the space available. Shiplake actors and actresses have gained a reputation for producing challenging, fearless performances often in unusual spaces.

Scruffy Penguin Theatre Company

Since 2004, the College has had its very own Theatre Company. Scruffy Penguin was formed in 2014 to supersede “The Mad Dogs Theatre Company”, which had fashioned countless high quality drama productions over the past decade.

Many of the shows were held in the Shiplake’s versatile Tithe Barn Theatre, but members of the company often enjoyed performing in unusual locations. Past productions include “Animal Farm”, staged live on a real farm, and “The Arabian Nights”, complete with five tonnes of sand. Boys have also utilised the beautiful Shiplake countryside, including filming a memorable Bugsy Malone car chase.

In August 2016, Scruffy Penguin travelled north to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The group devised their own show called 'Lightless', based on the emotional and poignant story of Gulwali Passarlay, who had to escape a war-torn country. The storyline features unique elements, such as physical theatre. The characters each have their own story to tell about their past experiences, their current challenges and the dreams they have about escaping their present situation.

Co-Curricular Programme

GCSE and A Level Drama students are actively encouraged to join the College’s Theatre Company and immerse themselves fully in the amateur dramatics of Shiplake. As well as plenty of opportunities to take the stage, there are many roles behind the scenes including staging, lighting, costuming and directing. There really is something for everyone.

Younger members of the College also have a lively programme of co-curricular drama activities ranging from the annual Junior Drama Festival to involvement with the senior company’s productions. Add to this a full range of visiting practitioners, including annual street dancing and physical theatre workshops, and a number of varied theatre trips.

LAMDA Lessons

LAMDA is an awarding organisation which aims to deliver internationally recognised qualifications in communication and performance while inspiring young people through examinations in Drama, Literacy and Poetry. LAMDA believes that Drama has the power to transform lives and wants to share their experience through training, qualifications, work, productions and facilities. 

So why choose LAMDA?

  • It gives confidence to students and employers that the qualifications are delivered by an organisation whose integrity, resources and competence have been independently checked
  • It informs those who use the awarding organisation's qualifications – students, schools, employers etc. – that the qualifications are monitored and are of the advertised standard and level
  • If the awarding organisation develops qualifications for specific trades or industries, it gives assurance that the qualification is suitable for those specific or specialist needs 
  • It allows the awarding organisation's qualifications to be transferred throughout Europe as part of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and can enhance the standing of the awarding organisation's qualifications in countries outside Europe

LAMDA lessons run all year round during term time. Course details:

  • Acting Solo or Combined
  • Lessons - 1/2 lessons (in pairs) on Saturday mornings, scheduled between 9.30am-12.30pm (lessons are available during the week (4.45 – 5.45pm) depending upon demand)

The cost of lessons will be £12 per pupil per lesson, with a requirement to commit to lessons for the term, with a five-week notice period to cancel.

Further information can be found here.

Shiplake is more than a place to learn, it is a place to live and grow: a vibrant and busy community with a mixture of boarders and day pupils