Miss C M Davies B.A. Head of Department
Miss D Harley B.Phil.
Drama is a vibrant and essential part of life at JCG. All students study Drama in Key Stage 3 and are able to opt for the subject at GCSE and A level.
There is an exciting array of dramatic activities on offer with a Junior Drama Club in the spring and summer terms, annual productions of plays or musicals each year in the autumn, workshops, regular theatre visits on island and off island theatre experiences in London. Drama invests our students with the necessary confidence needed both at school and beyond. We aim to empower our girls by teaching skills such as direction, stagecraft, design and the ability to speak publicly with confidence and articulate delivery of their own opinions. Obviously there is a huge emphasis on the development of performance skills as well.
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Whenever possible we organise visiting speakers and theatre groups / workshops from a range of areas in the performing arts world. Workshops in recent years have included visits from The National Dance Company of Wales and Andrew Taylor, a professional costume and mask designer.
We offer an annual London Theatre trip to Year 11 and 12. This off-island experience provides our girls with an eclectic range of theatrical experiences including plays, workshops and tours (see CURRICULUM).
Annual productions of either plays or musicals take place each year in December. Students audition for roles and work alongside staff and student technicians / designers to produce very high quality performances.
Past productions have included Grimm Tales by Tim Supple and Carol-Ann Duffy, The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht, Macbeth by William Shakespeare (also entered into The Shakespeare Schools Festival), Phaedra by Jean Racine, Yerma by Federico Garcia Lorca, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (also entered into The Shakespeare Schools festival), The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt and The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
These occur bi-annually in association with the JCG Music department. Recent past productions have included Wind in the Willows, Oliver!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Guys and Dolls and Les Misérables (School’s Edition) and Sweet Charity.
The next production of the JCG Youth Music Theatre will be The Accordion Shop by Cush Jumbo.“National Theatre Connections is the biggest youth theatre festival on the planet”
Connections is the National Theatre’s annual festival of new plays for youth theatres and schools. The 2014 Connections involved 10 Writers, 230 Youth Theatre Companies, 5,000 Young People, 684 Performances, 26 Partner Theatres and 25,000 Audience Members. Connections aims to inspire 13-19 year olds with high-quality new playwriting, give companies the knowledge, skills and confidence to bring the plays to life, involve a wide range of young companies and encourage young people to get involved in all aspects of theatre making. Connections gives young people the chance to create marketing campaigns, design sets and costumes, operate lighting and sound and to stage-manage their performances. They also act! Each company also has the experience of performing in a leading regional theatre at one of the Connections festivals around the country. Each year the Connections team travels the length and breadth of the country to support and encourage the participants – the drama teachers and youth theatre directors who take on the challenge of staging a new play and the young actors, designers and technicians who work alongside them.
This year members of the JCG Youth Theatre will meet professional writers, performers, producers and directors. They will perform their piece at school in front of their family and friends in Jersey. In that performance they will also be watched by a director from the National Theatre and receive feedback from her on their performance. The chance to receive expert National Theatre feedback is likely to be a massive boost for the girls involved. After this they will also perform The Accordion Shop in the Bristol Old Vic Studio at the end of March. If our play is selected, the JCG Youth Theatre will get the chance to show it at the National Theatre in London.
So what is the The Accordion Shop about?
The Accordion Shop is a play about the riots that took place in the UK in the summer of 2011 and centres on a London street called The Road. It is written in the style of documentary drama and physical theatre. There are a range of speaking roles and the play is very thought-provoking.
Between Saturday 6 and Thursday 11 August 2011, thousands of people rioted in several London boroughs and in cities and towns across England. The riots are sometimes referred to as the "BlackBerry riots" due to the use of mobile devices and social media to organise them. Disturbances began on 6 August after a protest in Tottenham, north London, following the death of Mark Duggan, a local who was shot dead by police on 4 August. Several violent clashes with police ensued, along with the destruction of police vehicles, a double-decker bus, and many civilian homes and businesses, thus rapidly gaining attention from the media. The following days saw similar scenes in other parts of London, with the worst rioting taking place in Hackney, Brixton, Walthamstow, Peckham, Enfield, Battersea, Croydon, Ealing, Barking, Woolwich, East Ham and Lewisham.
It is in Lewisham that The Accordion Shop is set.
There were a total of 3,443 crimes across London linked to the disorder. There were five deaths and at least 16 people were injured as a direct result of related violent acts. An estimated £200,000,000 worth of property damage was incurred. Investigations after the riots have attributed the events to factors such as racism, classism and economic decline, as well as cultural factors like criminality, hooliganism, breakdown of social morality, and gang culture.
Tech Club is a group that convenes every year for the JCG Youth Theatre production period. The club is open to students in Year 9 and above. The students involved are given responsibility for creating and decorating scenery and props for the performance. They work with members of the Drama and Art departments to design sets and build model boxes. They also select their particular area of interest in order to specialise in this throughout the course of the run. Students operate and hang lighting, operate and balance radio mics and general sound, work backstage on scene changes and quick costume / make-up changes and each year one student is selected to stage manage the performance. The aim of the club is to include as many girls as possible in the production process, to teach them new skills and give them a complete sense of ownership of the piece. From September, Tech Club members will assist with the making of props and scenery for Thoroughly Modern Millie and will also attend after-school workshops in lighting, sound and set design. Mr Crespel, Miss Davies and Mrs Crowcroft will be the teachers in charge.After Christmas Tech Club will continue to meet for students who are keen to help with assemblies,concerts and other events.
Junior Drama Club for Year 7, 8 and 9 is held each week in the spring and summer. Activities in Drama Club are diverse and instil students with a love of performance from the earliest age. The aim of the club is to have fun with Drama, create short projects for performance and to enable students to work with other girls from a range of year groups. Confidence is always developed and the whole process is less about outcome and more about letting off some midweek steam and having fun!Drama Club will begin after Christmas.
House Drama this year was a very close competition and all six houses produced excellent pieces. The competition took place on Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd December in the JCG Hall. The judges this year were Mr Kenan Osborne and Miss Victoria Cotter, both local actors and Miss Gabrielle Robbé, a local choreographer, actress and director. All three judges were hugely impressed by the standard of the entries and the scoring was very close at both the top and bottom of the rankings.
Plays this year were very diverse and covered a range of subjects and issues. The first night saw entries from Austen Bartlett who performed excellently in Judith Johnson’s Scary Play, Curie Fry’s atmospheric version of The House of Bernarda Alba by Lorca and Cavell’s polished ensemble performance of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child, Dead Child. The second night saw Nightingale perform the moving play Hard to Swallow by Mark Wheeller, Inglis created a very sad but festive version of The Little Match Girl by Laurie Brooks Gollobin and finally Garrett Anderson performed the very funny Womberang by Sue Townsend.
There were many awards up for grabs, not just the prize for the overall winner. There were three awards for acting. Best Actress was won by Isabelle Bougeard for Garrett Anderson for her performance in Garrett Anderson’s Womberang, Best Actress in a Supporting Role was Harley De Gruchy of Curie Fry for her role in The House of Bernarda Alba and Best Newcomer was won by Clara Baines of Year 7 for her performance in Hard to Swallow for Nightingale. Other awards were for Best Design and Visuals (Inglis The Little Match Girl) and Best Publicity (Nightingale Hard to Swallow). The special prize for direction – Jurat Sally Le Brocq OBE Prize for Best Director ¬– was won by Molly Hamilton of Cavell for the amazing production of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child, Dead Child. This play was also awarded the cup for Best Play.
Results were as follows:
Joint 2nd Inglis
Joint 4th Austen Bartlett
Drama is part of the core curriculum in Years 7, 8 and 9 and is an examination subject at GCSE and AS/A2 level with the option to study Drama and Theatre Studies. Our groups study a wide variety of dramatic styles and skills. Work is assessed in three areas across all key stages – making, performing and responding.
Some of the modules taught in Drama naturally lend themselves to home extension activities. However, the Drama Department at JCG believes that the most important forms of extension activities are group rehearsal during lunch breaks and in the extended curriculum work of the department such as JCG Youth Theatre, Tech Club and Junior Drama Club.
In Year 7 students cover foundation skills such as simple dramatic devices, spatial awareness and group co-operation. They look at the skills of clowning and slapstick comedy, dramatic storytelling and narration, improvisation and puppetry.
In Year 8 students work on stylised theatre, characterisation skills, melodrama , script work and the annual Year 8 Shakespeare Competition in conjunction with the English, Music and Art departments.This year we also intend teaching a module on The Commedia dell Arte.
In Year 9 students work on areas of study that are closely related to the type of work covered at GCSE level. They begin the year with Trust and Stage Fighting and attempt to include these physical aspects into their improvisation work. They also cover Physical Theatre and create whole class Improvisation pieces. The latter work is showcased at the very end of the year – a fitting way to conclude the study of Drama at Key Stage 3.
Drama is offered at GCSE and we follow the AQA syllabus.
Our groups are a healthy size, with GCSE sets numbering between 12 and 16. There are usually 2 sets in each year group with staff liaising, planning, discussing and moderating work together.
Performing Opportunities: Students work on a range of controlled assessment tasks across the course of the two years at GCSE. All students act in their first improvisation assessment but are able to develop their technical or design skills in subsequent assessments. Practical possibilities include improvisation, script, devised thematic work, physical theatre and theatre in education.
Written Work: Students are encouraged to keep diaries of their practical preparation and progress in order to use the entries for revision. The written exam in Drama expects students to describe and reflect upon their personal practical work and to describe and analyse the success of theatre they have been to see.
Theatre Opportunities: At GCSE students are able to write exam answers based on personal response to live theatre. For this reason students attend local theatre productions regularly and make concise notes on the pieces. Student understanding of theatre they have seen is further developed by occasional visits from professional companies to JCG for workshop opportunities. In Year 11 students are invited to go to London on a four day theatre trip with AS students. Whilst away they watch five West End performances, attend backstage tours (National Theatre, Drury Lane and Shakespeare’s Globe) and participate in workshops with a range of companies. They also visit the V&A Theatre and Performance Exhibition.
Students who opt for AS and A2 Drama and Theatre Studies study the AQA specification.
Written Work: All are expected to study set texts (one at AS and two at A2 level) and are also expected to write essays on response to live theatre. For this reason, we have been keen in the past to stage productions of A level set texts (Phaedra, Yerma, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Good Person of Szechwan) and take the group to both local and off island theatre.
Practical Work: In terms of practical work students produce two pieces for moderation by a visiting AQA examiner. At AS the piece is scripted and girls are able to act, direct, design or work on technical elements of the performance. The play chosen must convey the clear influence of an influential practitioner, director or theatre company. At A2 level the piece is self devised and must display a highly sophisticated understanding of a selected theatrical style. In preparation for all of this students are taught a wide range of theatrical styles and influences. Personal research tasks and independent learning are a vital element of the course and prepare students well for the demands of university study.
Many Drama students from JCG have gone on to study Drama at major universities including Bristol and Exeter and in recent years have been offered places at RADA, Guildhall, Drama Centre and Central School of Speech and Drama for both acting and technical courses. One ex student this year is about to embark on her second year of studies at the Michael Howard Studios in New York!