The St Leonards Drama Department aims to provide a positive theatre experience that enables all pupils to develop an informed understanding of themselves and the world they live in.
The most significant kind of learning which is attributed to experience in Drama is the growth in the pupils’ understanding about human behaviour, themselves and the world they live in. This growth of understanding, which does involve changes in customary ways of thinking and feeling, is one of the main aims of Drama teaching at St Leonards. Another aim is to develop an increased competence in using the Drama form and satisfaction from working within it. Theatre skills are not necessary before a group engages in Drama, but working in Drama is likely to develop and enhance those skills.
Drama is taught as part of the curriculum in Years 1-9. Performing Arts is available as an option at GCSE and Theatre Studies is available in Group 6 of the IB Diploma or Career-related Programme. The Drama Department has three members of teaching staff and is supported by pupil monitors who are chosen each year for their specific skills and outstanding commitment to the department.
The course aims to enable pupils to appreciate and understand theatre in a worldwide context. Through the study of theatre they will better understand themselves, society and the world around them. IB Theatre is open to anyone with a love and appreciation of theatre and the Arts in general. Although a proportion of the course is practical in nature, this is very much an academic course. Research is one of the key elements, especially at Higher Level.
Higher Level is appropriate for those with previous experience of GCSE Performing Arts/Drama and who want to further their studies. It is particularly relevant for those considering a degree in - or associated to - Theatre/Performance Arts.
Standard Level is appropriate for those who are extremely interested in Theatre/Drama and have had previous theatrical/drama experience. In Year 12, the first year of the IBDP or IBCP, pupils are introduced to a variety of theatrical practices, genres and practitioners. Plenty of scope is also given for them to develop their own skills and areas of interest in theatre. In the second year, Year 13, pupils use their knowledge to complete various areas of assessment.
GCSE Performing Arts
The GCSE Performing Arts course allows students to choose 13 skills they would like to develop within the following four areas:
- Physical and performing: acting; dance; singing; music
- Administration: front of house; marketing and publicity
- Technical management skills: lighting; sound; dj-ing; stage management; music technology
- Design and making skills: costume; make-up; puppets; masks; set design; properties
The breadth of available study makes it accessible to those who wish to perform and those who would prefer to explore and develop skills backstage.
Trinity Guildhall Examinations
Pupils are able to study for the Guildhall Acting Grades 1-8 and enjoy great success. The course combines the study of script work and improvisation techniques, supporting other areas of the drama curriculum in school.
On a Wednesday evening, pupils from Years 7-13 join together to dance. The session is supervised by staff and led by the Dance Monitor but the content of the class is decided upon by the pupils themselves. Work is choreographed throughout the year and showcased annually. The class also supports work studied in GCSE Performing Arts and routines required for school productions.
All pupils in Years 7-13 are able to participate in our annual school productions. Pupils are given the opportunity to perform in both musical and drama productions. It is the Drama Department’s policy to ensure that all, who want it, are given the opportunity to perform. Pupils are also given the chance to work backstage and gain the ‘hands on’ experience of working in a real theatre, whether in lighting and sound, set or costume design.
The main School Hall is used for larger-scale practical work and for some performances, however more often these are held in the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, giving our pupils the opportunity to perform to the public in professional-standard productions.
New York, New York! And more!
Every two years a trip to New York is organised, giving St Leonards pupils the chance to experience Broadway and take part in workshops with some of its stars. Each term the department also arranges trips to local theatres and to the larger theatres of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
st leonards at the fringe
St Leonards pupils have taken some fabulous shows to the Edinburgh Fringe in previous years, and our top troupe of thespians, the St Leonards Players, had hoped to do so in August 2020, with their original production of 'At a Standstill', written by our Director of Drama, Ms Nichola McQuade-Powell. The coronavirus pandemic put our 2020 plans on hold, but the play will be heading to the Edinburgh stage as soon as restrictions allow.