Staffing and responsibilities:
There are three drama teachers in the school, Jo Hammer and Hannah Maddison and Sophie Hammer who makes a contribution too. They teach all students in Y7-9 and GCSE drama in Y10 & 11. They also run a very busy extra-curricular programme. All teachers are professionally trained..
The Drama Curriculum at Latymer:
We strongly believe that Drama can make an essential contribution to every student’s education. Latymer pupils are creative, self-confident and culturally aware and, as a department, we provide the tools with which to develop these talents and the platforms for their presentation. We teach students how to become practical makers and performers of plays. They also learn how to appreciate the art form and how it has been used by others – both in the contemporary London theatre scene and by exploring the classic dramas of the past. The study and practice of drama also develops important social skills of co-operation, concentration and mutual understanding. We teach students how to use voice and movement skills in a confident and expressive way, in order to become effective communicators. Above all, Drama is taught as art form with which students can express their thoughts and feelings about the world in which they live now.
At KS 3, we focus on teaching pupils to Make, Perform and Respond to Drama through a varied programme of improvisation, script work, drama games and theatre history. Examples of work covered include work on Characterisation, Physical Theatre techniques, an introduction to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”; original script-writing based around Urban Myths; documentary dramas inspired by the Titanic story and writing and performing Monologues. We also include a basic introduction to the theories of theatre practitioners Stanislavski and Brecht and perform scenes from contemporary playwrights like Alan Ayckbourn, Willy Russell and Denis Kelly.
In Years 10 and 11, students can opt to take the AQA GCSE Drama course, which involves a combination of Scripted Performance, original Devised Work and the study of a Set Play. 60% of the course is assessed through practical work and the remaining 40% through a one and a half hour Written Exam. Set plays have included “Private Lives”, “Billy Liar” and “Absurd Person Singular”. Students are taught how to structure and present their own original devised plays based on a given stimulus; they also learn how to interpret and perform play texts written by established playwrights (Noel Coward, John Godber, April De Angelis, Amanda Whittington). The work is under-pinned by regular visits to theatre performances in the West End and by workshop sessions from professional theatre makers (e.g. Trestle Theatre Company). Drama students are prepared for one Controlled Assessment a term in either Devised Drama, Acting or Theatre-in-Education and the course culminates in public performance evening of play extracts in the Seward Studio in the Spring Term of Year 11.
In the Sixth Form, students can opt to take the AQA A-level course in Drama and Theatre Studies.
This involves the study of Set Plays – for example, “Hedda Gabler” by Henrik Ibsen or “Metamorphosis" by Steven Berkoff. These texts are taught through practical exploration, as well as academic study of the plays’ background and context. Students also write informed critical responses to the plays in the theatre which they are taken to see during the course, as preparation for Component 1: Interpreting Drama – the analysis and evaluation of the work of live theatre makers. Recent theatre visits have included “People, Places and Things" at the National Theatre, "Hangman" at the Wyndhams and Complicite's "Encounter" at the Barbican. Practical assessments require the students to present up to three Play Extracts (for Component 2: Process and Performance) and an original piece of Devised Theatre (for Component 3: Making Theatre).
Recent examples of practical work include extracts from contemporary plays by Christopher Hampton, Debbie Tucker Green and David Lindsay Abaire and an original devised drama piece based on the Donna Tartt novel “The Secret History" Practical work at this level is worth 60% of the total marks available; the Written Exam is worth 40%.
The Drama Department stages about a dozen public performances a year: this includes two big extra-curricular drama productions as well as public performance showcases of work by exam groups. The two big shows are the main school play in November and the junior production in July. These major fully staged productions – of either musicals or large cast plays – involve a substantial number of students and attract large-sized audiences. The November production is performed for three nights and the July show for two evenings, both in the Great Hall. They often involve collaboration with other departments and students take part not just as performers but as musicians, backstage or technical team members. The smaller scale exam performances take place in either the Seward or Drama Studio and these are also given in the evenings to audiences of parents, friends and other members of staff.
There are frequent theatre visits to the West End and other theatres throughout the school year. We also invite theatre professionals into school to share their expertise with our students. Recently we have had workshops on Audition Technique, Mask work and Artaud. There is a weekly Drama Club for Year 7 students and every other year we run the popular House Drama Competition, which attracts large numbers of KS 3 pupils as performers, directed by Sixth Form House Officers in a programme of six half-hour plays. A student led Musical Theatre Society has also successfully staged a number of “alternative” musicals in the Seward Studio in the Spring Term.
Recent highlights have included the school The Sound of Music, Blue Stockings and The Show Must go On18/19/20 and the “junior” shows Emil and The Detective, Much Ado About Nothing (19/20). We’ve also had workshops in school from Frantic Assembly, RADA, Out of Joint, Trestle, Theatre Talawa as well as Theatre-in-Education performances from Theatre Centre and Polka Children’s Theatre. We have done outreach work in the local West Lea school, working with their drama club to produce a performance in the summer term and our GCSE Drama students have worked with residents from the local Sunbridge Care Home to produce an original performance piece designed to celebrate Enfield’s 50 years as a London Borough.
Latymer drama students are extremely well taught and exam results are very good with 85.7% of A-level students achieving A*-A grades in 2015; 100% in 2014 and 69.7% achieving A*-A at GCSE (46.9% above the national average of 23%) External moderators from the exam board, regularly comment on the exceptionally high quality of the practical work they have seen from our students.
A number of ex-Latymer students have made careers in the professional theatre, the most famous of which is Dame Eileen Atkins. More recent Alumni have included Max Bennett (recently starred alongside Felicity Kendal in the West End revival of “Relatively Speaking”; was also in the Royal Court’s production of “Posh” and the Sam Wanamaker Globe Playhouse production of “Tis Pity She’s A Whore” in Dec 2014); Dex Lee (leading roles in “The Scottsboro Boys” at the Garrick Theatre in Jan 2015 and currently on a national tour of “Hairspray”); Matthew Tennyson (lead role of Konstantin in “The Seagull” at the Regent’s Park Theatre in June 2015. Also lead roles at Shakespeare’s Globe and at the Donmar Theatre); Claire Hope Ashitey (recently starred in the BBC TV drama “Dr Foster” alongside Surranne Jones); Rosalind Halstead (leading role in ITV’s “Wuthering Heights” and appeared in the film “Mrs Henderson Presents”); Eleanor Wyld (title roles in “Antigone” at the Southwark Playhouse and in“After Electra” at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn); Tim Connor (recently wrote and presented the musical “The Signalman” at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden).