‘Good theatre draws the energies out of the place where it is and gives it back as joie de vivre.’
The Guardian 23rd September, 2002
Drama lies at the beating heart of Ditcham Park School. Our pupils’ passion for performance is palpable and is fired by a desire to explore and interpret the world in which they find themselves living. The seed of their creative freedom is planted in KS1, where all pupils are introduced to the fun and excitement of Drama by our specialist LAMDA teacher Jenny De Jongh. Head of Drama Susie Wey picks up the mantle in Uppers and all pupils participate in increasingly challenging Drama lessons each week until options are chosen at the end of Form 2. GCSE Drama is one of the most popular option subjects in the school and is hugely enhanced by a strong programme of extra-curricular opportunities including theatre trips, visiting theatre company workshops and whole school productions.
The opportunity to visit live theatre stretches far afield both geographically and metaphorically with trips organised to local theatres in Chichester, Southampton and Portsmouth as well as Central London, West End and Fringe theatres such as those found in the ever-evolving and incredibly vibrant East End. Pupils are exposed to more traditional musical theatre but more importantly to cutting edge companies such as Kneehigh, Frantic Assembly and The David Glass Ensemble. Visits to site specific productions also form an essential part of the trips on offer to pupils such as those staged by The Natural History Museum and The London Underground.
The department has a developing relationship with internationally renowned theatre Company Frantic Assembly who visit the school on an annual basis to work with GCSE pupils and our Gifted and Talented pupils in lower years. In 2019 we have been thrilled to be able to have offered a 3 day residency with Frantic Practitioners Steve Kirkham and Michelle Edwards which culminated in a stunning outdoor physical theatre performance during Creative Arts evening. We participate annually in The Shakespeare for Schools Festival which gives a large cast the opportunity to perform in a professional theatre to a public audience and rotate participation in the festival with in-house productions which are open to pupils of all Senior Year groups. We are looking forward to developing our involvement in initiatives offered by The National Theatre including their young playwrights’ programme.
Within the curriculum, pupils develop themselves as actors, directors and designers and are offered a wide range of opportunities to participate in both scripted and devised projects. Lessons always have a practical focus but these are backed up by a rigorous approach to developing in all of our pupils the ability to record their knowledge and understanding in written form. The department works hard to support the needs of pupils of all abilities and takes pride in its collaborations with the Art, AEN and English departments.
With a new-build performing arts centre on the horizon, this is an exciting time for Drama at Ditcham Park School.