Drama is taught throughout Westonbirt and from Years 7 to 9 girls receive one double lesson a week. In the first year, the focus is on exploring theatrical history from the Greeks to Shakespeare and Commedia Dell’arte to Silent Movies.
The aim is to build confidence, empathy and teamwork amongst the students.
Year 8 begins to experiment with realism and storytelling in performance and developing a theatrical voice when performing from scripts. Year 9 begins preparation for GCSE with units relating to scriptwork and devising. In the first half of the year, they are introduced to both Stanislavski and Brecht and the summer culminates in a performance that reflects on their learning during the lower school.
At GCSE level, the largely practical based course investigates a range of dramatic styles, including physical theatre and Theatre In Education (T.I.E) Recent performance projects have included the use of Trestle Masks, devised work based on world events and a performance of ‘Goodnight, Mister Tom’ to the prep school. Work is both inspired and complimented by a range of theatre trips to Cheltenham, Bath, Bristol and London and students learn to write analytically about work they have seen and performed in.
Drama productions at Westonbirt often sell out quickly and performances receive rave reviews. In Summer 2015 Westonbirt Drama performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival which was reported in the local paper as below:
Students from Westonbirt School near Tetbury debuted their adaptation of Alice in Wonderland in front of fellow pupils before tailoring it for Fringe audiences with the sub-title ‘Children Should Be Seen And Not Heard’.
The five-day run has already sold out its second performance at The Space, in Jeffrey Street, and attracted the attention of credited festival reviewer, Derek.
As well as giving the show a positive critique he nominated Westonbirt pupil Hannah Reichwald, a Y13 drama scholar, for his individual performer award.
“I found this to be a very well worked and engaging show,” he wrote. “The pace was brilliantly done, lively and with humour that allowed for both adults and children alike.”
Staff say the girls have handled the pressure of performing at the festival well, stepping out on to the Royal Mile every day to talk to members of the public and promote their show.
As published in Wilts & Glos Standard 2015.
More recently, A level Drama students wrote, directed and performed their own emotionally moving play based on harrowing, true events which occurred in Ariel Castro’s house in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro abducted and kept captive three girls, who he continuously abused and tortured. Adapting Beauty and the Beast; the play illustrated through 'Belle' the mental and physical regression caused by abuse over 10 years.
The sixth form drama students were passionate about using the performance to raise funds for the Stroud-based charity The Nelson Trust who have developed a specialist residential service for women who have experienced trauma or abuse.
Actor Andrew Lincoln who was in the audience said of the performance:
It was a brilliant play written by the actors themselves that combined poetry, movement and music to create their own response to the Ariel Castro kidnappings. For such an emotive and uncomfortable subject matter they handled it with enormous care, and as a result gave their own unique and powerful performances. I was very inspired by these talented young actors and look forward to working with, or for them in the near future.
Head of Drama Andrew English said:
I am immensely proud of the students who wrote this outstanding piece of theatre.
GL8 8 QG
GL8 8 QG