Drama and Theatre Studies and all associated extra-curricular performances, festivals, film or song nights, competitions and clubs are open to all students throughout their school career, based upon the premise that Drama is valuable for, and pertinent to, every single student. Indeed, parents are also invited to join in with our Patents Drama Soc every Wednesday evening in term time.
As a curricular subject, it is studied throughout the School, from fortnightly lessons for new Year 7 students to a growing Sixth Form studying Pre-U/A Level Drama & Theatre.
Pupils and learners study in our Performing Arts Studio, a purpose-built block with a classroom, Green Room and tech box of its own. Students are taught a range of theatre skills and techniques, from acting to directing and producing, to technical proficiency and design. They also study a wide variety of theatre practitioners and learn to apply these theories or ideas to their practical work, which is regularly performed for a parental and student-based audience, then filmed and examined, in the Studio. Pupils of the subject may look at Augusto Boal, or the Total Theatre of Antonin Artaud, or the more prescriptive methods put forward by Stanislavski and Alfreds.
There are regular trips to local theatres, and workshops led by theatre practitioners who come into School, or who deliver a range of workshops at their own theatres, linked to a performance seen of a studied play.
e the classroom, the school year is full of extra-curricular events and opportunities to build upon skills learnt. All events have an emphasis upon involving whoever wishes to be involved, and of appealing to the whole School community.
In November every year, the whole school show is open to students from every year group, with recent performances including ‘Macbeth’, ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘The Sound of Music’. The company involved often exceeds 150 students, and there are three performance nights and a morning show to local primary schoolchildren.
In February each year, up to 50 Sixth Formers stage a demanding and sometimes more experimental play within less than a fortnight, from first rehearsal to last performance. The last three years have witnessed more avant-garde interpretations of ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Coriolanus’. The principle is that nothing is deemed too difficult or demanding.
House Drama, which is led by Year 12 students and is open to all Year 7 to 10 pupils, takes place in July every year. It is one of the many hotly anticipated House Competition events, and often involves over three quarters of the student body. This year, the plays being devised are all focussed on a Greek mythic theme. The final show is judged by an external guest adjudicator.
A new innovation for 2016 was the first ever Cheltenham Pate’s Theatre Festival in the February half term, which saw 19 shows and workshops over four days in PAB from professional actors and practitioners, attended by members of the general public as well as an enthusiastic Pate’s audience.
Since September 2015 alone, there have been over 50 performances, workshops or open lessons in PAB or in the Hall. Different from the cavernous grandeur of the Hall, PAB serves not only as a classroom, but also as a more intimate rehearsal and performance space for visiting professionals, student-led pieces, and examination practicals.
OutsidWhatever your interest, there is always plenty to do in Drama at Pate’s. Members of the Tech Crew, Wardrobe, Stage Management and Design teams are equally valued, respected and encouraged. Every activity is based on an ethos of inclusivity and a spirit of ensemble work, whether in the classroom or beyond.
Edward Derbyshire, Head of Drama