Drama lessons are introduced to Pinewood children during Pre-Prep and EYFS as a vehicle to support self-confidence, communication skills and well-being. It is continued in the Prep School as a discrete subject from Year 3 through to Year 6. The aim is not only to instill an enjoyment of the subject, but also to nourish their creativity, build their self-confidence, improve their communication skills and develop their facility for empathy and a consideration of other people’s views. These values and skills are used to enhance the children’s learning throughout the school. This in turn is augmented through the experience of watching visiting TiE (Theatre in Education) groups in school (across a range of curriculum subjects) and visits to theatres such as the Wyvern in Swindon, the Everyman in Cheltenham and the Watermill in West Berkshire.
“The quality of pupils’ work in Drama is of an exceptional standard.”
(ISI Inspection Report 2012)
In the Autumn Term Year 7 perform a straight play (as opposed to a musical). In recent years this has been a Shakespeare play (‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Macbeth’) offering the opportunity to stretch the children with unfamiliar language and to challenge them to get under the skin of complex characters in emotionally-charged stories. This is a voluntary undertaking, with a guarantee that all children that audition are assured some kind of speaking part. The Early Years children all take part in a Nativity performance, allowing them to perform in front of an audience and have a flavour of things to come.
The Summer Term sees the Year 4 production, which alternates between a theatre-based show and an alfresco performance in the school’s glorious grounds (weather permitting!). Performances in recent years have included ‘Go For Gold’ – an exploration of the origins of the Olympics, ‘Greece The Musical’ – a light-hearted look at the relationship between the gods and mortals of Ancient Greece; an adaptation of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and a junior production of ‘Rats’ – the re-telling of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. As with the Year 5 production, all of Year 4 are engaged in this production. Year 1 and 2 children also perform in a colourful musical play, where every child has a line or more to learn, as well as songs and dance routines to perform. Past performances have included ‘There’s A Sunflower In My Supper’ and ‘The Goblin Next Door’.
At the end of the Summer Term Year 8 produce their swansong: Curtain Call. This is a largely self-directed soiree of short scenes, songs and dances that showcase their talents and celebrate their shared experiences of the school. Whilst participation is voluntary, the children are encouraged and supported to explore their own ideas and interpretations through whatever performance medium they feel most comfortable, such as poetry, prose, music, dance, mime, puppetry or mask work.
Every year a number of our senior students take Drama either as a discrete Scholarship exam or as an integrated part of an All-Rounder award to a variety of public schools. Through performing and participating in school productions students are able to gain their Drama Colours or even the coveted Pinewood Honours for particularly outstanding performances.