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Newman Catholic College

NewmanCatholic College

A UNICEF Rights Respecting School


Drama/ Performing Arts

Performing Arts (KS3 - Drama) is a gateway to accessing both the world we live in and the inner workings of the human soul. We aim to develop the childhood instinct of play into invaluable skills that can be applied to all elements of a learner’s life: socially, politically and personally.

Performing Arts ignites a passion and love for literary works within our students. This builds a chain of understanding between students’ lives and their characters, which consolidates their knowledge and understanding in other disciplines. They practically explore textual analysis, historical content and social context through the medium of theatre. Students learn the soft skills required to be fully functioning members of society. We provide them with an awareness of community values and a diverse range of cultures. Additionally, they are taught non-verbal and verbal communication skills which are essential to everyday life. We create a bespoke programme which stretches and challenges individual learners to collaborate with industry practitioners as well as their peers. Our partnerships include: The Royal Opera House; The Donmar Warehouse; The Kiln Theatre; The British Youth Music Theatre; Complicite; The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. These industry links provide our students with workshops and educational visits such as theatre performances and backstage tours. Students receive an enriched educational experience and a life-long engagement with the dramatic arts.  

Keystage 3 overview N/A 

Year 7 N/A

Year 8 N/A

Year 9 N/A

Key stage 4 overview 

Key Stage 4 students take the BTEC First Award. This qualification consists of three units: Acting Skills, Preparation, Production and Performance and Individual Showcase. The three units can be tailored to challenge the students while targeting their existing skills and interests. Thus the work produced is always a unique expression of the concerns, amusements and hopes of our young people at this very moment in time.

Year 10
*** Will be added later

Year 11

Year 11 opened academic year 2015-2016 with an exploration of playwrights who questioned what it meant to be a man in the Britain of their time. To engage with characters from such different ages, classes and eras required research, imagination, empathy and maturity.

Following that Year 11 received specialist tuition in aspects of theatre that they had no prior experience of such as Mask, Devised Theatre, Physical Theatre and Pantomime. Such an experience brought a new understanding of the relationship between performer and audience and culminated in a production that necessarily relied on the students’ developing organisational and personal management skills. This production depended on a high degree of cooperation and collaboration. The success of the students’ ensemble work demonstrated their ability to meet such a challenge.

Students will now select a suitable performance skill to hone for their Individual Showcase.

Key Stage 5 overview 

Our Key Stage 5 comprises the Year 12 Fast-track group taking a BTEC First Award and Year 13 taking the BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts. The BTEC Extended Diploma consists of eighteen units, both mandatory and optional so the course can be designed to stretch and celebrate the talents of each cohort.

Year 12

The BTEC First Award Fast-track students have been tackling scenes from August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba and Arthur Miller’s View from the Bridge as part of their Acting Skills unit. The last two plays were written in the first half of the last century while the first was written in the last few years of the 1800s. As each play confronts the impact of violating societal norms, the Fast-track are sure to produce arresting and thought-provoking interpretations of the scenes. This is a group who share a wealth of languages and experiences of different cultures and a strong work ethic.

Having completed their scripted scenes, the Fast-track will start producing material that reflects upon and communicates their experiences of coming to London. This material will form a devised piece of theatre that will at once be personal to the performers and resonant for many young Londoners in the audience.

Year 13

Our Level 3 Year 13 students took part in Tomorrow Project at the Donmar Warehouse. The cohort were selected to represent North West London from all the schools in Brent in this vitally important project staged at one of the country’s top theatres. The Tomorrow Project tackles complex topics and the material students select in response could be simultaneously harrowing and uplifting. Its purpose is to gather impressions, opinions, experiences and hopes our young people have of living in difficult times, as it is they who will be running the country in thirty years, and use this as stimulus for drama. There were seven pieces, directed by three professional directors. Our students were directed by Anne Langford. Our students performed with great energy and flair. They showcased their physical theatre skills whilst sharing personal reflections which brought the audience into the world as they experience it. We hope that this will open doors at the Donmar and bring many more opportunities for our students. This project covered criteria for the unit Devising Plays.

In the Autumn term BTEC Extended Diploma students supported the GCSE syllabus by bringing key scenes from Macbeth to life. The Extended Diploma students’ unit Classical Theatre Performance required them to balance an appreciation of the original performance conditions and an accurate interpretation of Shakespeare’s text with a style that would engage their modern audience. It was a credit both to the performers and indeed the audience that the performance was watched intently and insightful questions were asked in the question and answer sessions that followed each performance.

A full scale performance of The Gods Are Not To Blame, a Nigerian playwright’s adaptation of Oedipus Rex is currently in rehearsal. The Extended Diploma students will combine their dance and music talent with Greek theatre skills to further update Rotimi’s reimagining of Sophocles great play. This performance will cover the units: Historical Context of Performance and Rehearsing for Performance.

The Extended Diploma students have also completed an Urban Dance unit and are currently covering the Performing Arts Business, TV and Film Acting and Auditions for Actors.

All our BTEC students have the privilege of working with a range of visiting professional actors, directors and technicians who are passionate about bringing the arts to the young people of Newman Catholic College.

Useful websites for this subject