The study of Drama and Theatre Studies plays a significant role in the creative academic and pastoral aspects of our student’s development here at Heathfield. Based in St Mary’s Theatre, Drama lessons for all year groups take place in the auditorium, with smaller classes and LAMDA lessons making use of a smaller, more intimate studio space. Students from all year groups are involved in all aspects of technical theatre, from the programming and rigging of lights and sound engineering training, to stage management skills, costume creation and set building.
All students are encouraged to take part in a diverse extra-curricular programme. Students in Forms 1-3 perform in the nationwide Shakespeare Schools Festival, where the cast create and perform an abridged adaptation of a Shakespeare play which is performed at nearby South Hill Park, in the Wilde Theatre. The experience provides our younger students with the opportunity to work with professional actors whilst in the rehearsal period of their production and perform in a professional theatre. Additionally, our Drama Scholars run a weekly lunchtime club for Form 1, and our theatre technician offers Technical Theatre Club fortnightly for all year groups. Students work with our resident Theatre Technician on the rigging, plotting, and programming of lights, the detailed creation of soundscape and special effects and the organisation skills involved in stage management.
There are two annual productions, which rotate from a musical and straight play, which students from Form 3 upwards can take part in, and the Lower School (Forms I to II) perform in a Summer Showcase. Recent productions have included: Shakespeare’s Macbeth, The Addams Family Musical, Sweet Charity, and Oliver! Our most recent Showcase was Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales, and the new academic year promises more exciting performances, with auditions soon to be held for next year’s musical. Other regular performances include GCSE and A Level Devised pieces created entirely by the students, and scripted performances at both levels where the students direct each other.
In addition to LAMDA throughout Heathfield, our scholarship programme allows the students to add to their already growing portfolio, through participation in the RADA Shakespeare Certificate. The Certificate requires an enhanced understanding of Shakespeare’s work, performing monologues and duologues which are examined by staff at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Scholars are also given opportunities to work with industry professionals and are regularly taken to the theatre, both locally and in the West End. Recent visits from practitioners and performers have included West End Producer and Director, Jonathan Church, Olivier award-winning actress Joanna Riding, and actor Jonjo O’Neill. Our Sixth Form students have also had the opportunity to create an immersive performance with guidance from performers from Punchdrunk Theatre Company.
We regularly take our students on trips to both West End regional theatre productions and next academic year, we are joining with the school choir on a theatrical enrichment trip to New York where, whilst the choir are singing at a number of exciting venues in the city, Drama students will spend a busy week seeing Broadway shows, visiting an award-winning immersive theatre production, and meeting with Broadway Producer Manny Azenberg, and Artistic Director Jill Rafson for a fascinating insight into the workings of the industry, a trip we plan to continue.
We are a bustling and busy department with something always on the go!