Miss Bramall became Head of Drama at Oxford High School in 2006. She enjoyed a professional acting career for ten years after leaving LAMDA and before becoming a teacher in 2001. She id thrilled to be working with superb talent on a daily baisis and with students who are full of enthusiasm, creativity and commitment. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miss O’Neill is teaching in the department this year. She is a member of the English Department and Head of Careers. She has enjoyed directing many Sixth Form plays in the past, including ‘The White Devil’ and ‘The Duchess of Malfi’. Miss O’Neill will be directing ‘Oedipus Rex’ in the autumn term of 2012.
Extra-Curricular – Speech & Drama Tuition
Jennifer Rudnay, RADA trained actress and Mrs J Clewett tutor girls (years 7-13) for the Trinity/Guildhall Speech and Drama examinations. These are accredited qualifications. Girls are taught in small groups and the lessons develop vocal technique as well as performance skills. Please contact email@example.com if you need more information.
In Years 7-9 Drama is an integral part of the timetable within the school year (on a rotation basis with other creative subjects). It also forms part of the General Studies programme in the 6th Form and can be enjoyed as a complementary subject in Years 10-11.
Taking Drama as a GCSE
Examination board: WJEC
GCSE WJEC DRAMA is a two year course in Year 10 and it has a wealth of possible outcomes. The course fosters candidates’ creativity, personal growth, self confidence and analytical skills. The course also
- Develops personal confidence, management skills and concentration.
- Builds on a strong emphasis of good communication and presentation skills.
- Sharpens responses to live productions through detailed analysis.
- Expands an awareness of social, historical and cultural influences through the study of play texts and other styles of dramatic presentations.
- Provides significant opportunities for expressing cultural and personal identity.
THE OUTLINE OF THE COURSE IS BELOW
(but further information can be found on www.wjec.gdst.net)
Students will devise practical performance based on a theme, linked with a practitioner or genre. The emphasis is on developing the performance skills of voice, movement and gesture whilst positively encouraging creativity and confidence.
A written report is needed for the practical work they completed through a Controlled Assessment.
Students will be assessed on their acting skills in a scene/extract from a published play. This is externally examined. There is also one 1 ½ hour written examination based on a studied set text.
Students are invited to on-site workshops on various practitioners as well as being invited to see a wide variety of live production work.
Drama and Theatre Studies AS (AQA)
The Drama AS (and A2) course is designed to be enjoyed from a practical perspective whilst developing an understanding of the social, cultural and historical influences on the development of drama and theatre. There is a strong ethos within the subject teaching to nurture a variety of theatrical skills, foster creativity and encourage a student’s imagination through devised and scripted work. There are many opportunities, through the study of Drama, for students to develop strong presentational skills, confidence and vocal training which are highly regarded skills in the work place.
The AS course covers:
- An exploration of Drama and Theatre through one set play (example. The Doll’s House by Ibsen)
- A focus on theatre practitioners (Brecht, Stanislavski, Berkoff)
- Trips to the theatre (Oxford Playhouse, RSC, National Theatre, Bath Theatre, Burton Taylor Theatre) to extend theatrical knowledge
- Close analysis of live productions in terms of design, directorial concept, lfx and sfx etc.
- Extensive reading of playwrights (Kane, Ravenhill, Berkoff, David Hare)
- A student choice of play to extract a scripted performance which is externally moderated at the end of the Easter term (40%). The piece must be accompanied by supporting notes
- There is a written examination at the end of the AS course on a set text and a live piece of theatre (60%)
Drama and Theatre Studies A2 (AQA)
The A2 course covers:
- An exploration of two set texts (eg; Berkoff’s ‘The Trial’ and Chekhov’s The Seagull) to prepare for the written examination at the end of the A2 year.
- A construction of a devised piece of theatre. The piece must be accompanied by supporting notes
Extra-Curricular Activities and Achievements
The students at Oxford High School are encouraged to write and produce their own plays – in the past productions have included ‘Knives and Forks’, ‘Under Milk Wood’, ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’, adaptations of ‘Hamlet’ and mini-plays for festivals and assemblies.
The theatre is visited on a regular basis. Recent trips have included ‘War Horse’ (2010), ‘Blasted at the Lyric Theatre, London (2011), ‘The Wild Bride’ by kneehigh at The Oxford Playhouse.
Each year there is a Lower School musical/play and past productions have included ‘The King and I’ (2010), ‘Sweeney Todd’ (2009), ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ (2009) and ‘Sound of Music’ (2007).
There is a Drama Scholarship that may be applied for in Year 11.
Oedipus was a once in a lifetime event: a first night for a new translation (by Oliver Taplin), the Drama Studio with a fearsome eye and blood red leaves, and real blood (well, stage blood to be truthful) when Oedipus blinded himself. Have a look at Jonathan Nicholl’s pictures and you will see what you missed if you weren’t packed into the suitably crowded and intense space.
Box Clever Intern Blog
These blog entries have been written by some of the Box Clever interns about their experience of being involved with the Box Clever Theatre Company residency taking place between 15 April – 26 April 2013 at Oxford High School.
Tuesday 23 April 2013 by Dora Morgan
Sadly today the lights were not set up, but we could still see the excitement and originality of the play.
There were a few problems with the music and soundtrack, as it is tricky to coordinate the music, speech and movements. I can see having a live DJ in the company, and mixing the old speech with modern speech and rapping gives the play a more modern and inventive feel.
The actors are feeling a bit tired and rundown today, probably from the large amount of hard and energetic work. But the hard work is paying off, as the rehearsal was better than ever, and I’m sure that with a hot meal and a good night’s sleep, the actors will be as good as new.
Monday 22 April 2013 by Dora Morgan
As we entered the hall today, we immediately noticed that the stage lights had been set up. These new additions to the staging have made the play hugely more atmospheric and interesting to watch.
Although it is just a week after the Box Clever company started rehearsing, I can see that the play is already starting to take shape. But as it is also just a few days before the performance to the school, the nervousness is starting to show. As Iqbal told us, he can’t indulge the actors’ anxiety, and therefore is a little sharper with them then he would be earlier in the rehearsal process. But everyone is doing extraordinarily well.
The company blocked the last part of the play today, from Romeo’s banishment to the end. Slowly, as the movements are worked out, and the lighting and music layered on as well, I could see how skilled the whole company was, even with so little time to work with. ESPECIALLY with so little time to work with!!
It was costuming today, so with the new lighting in place as well, there were a lot of new things to see! The costumes are modern, and I noticed that, especially with Romeo and Juliet, the costumes concentrate on their youthfulness, with bright, girly colours and clothes for Juliet and a boyish, teenage outfit for Romeo.
Friday 19 April 2013 by Hannah Cross and Ali Ackland Snow
Today the Year 12 Students had an after school workshop with Iqbal Khan and the cast of Romeo and Juliet. Afterwards, I spoke to Ali Ackland-Snow, a keen English student with a great interest in drama on how she found the time with Iqbal and what she got out of the workshop:
‘It was a really interesting lecture style workshop that explained the power of soliloquys in tragic plays. Iqbal’s argument was that the actors should actually engage with the audience, talk to them and ask THEM the questions rather than them being rhetorical (for example, ‘to be or not to be?’). The idea is that the audience ‘tunes into the character’s heartbeat’ for example, when Macbeth and his wife are about to carry out the murders, they make it so that the audience wants them to succeed because we are so engaged in their thoughts. I thought this was really eye opening because despite soliloquies often being about personal turmoil, I had never thought about the character reaching out to the audience so much.
It was amazing to watch Iqbal perform speeches from Hamlet and Macbeth and manage to make them so naturalistic in a way that showed how Shakespeare’s works don’t have to be all theatrical with a booming voice! We were also invited as a year to read out one of Lady Macbeth’s soliloquies of which I did. What I got from the experience was the idea that there is no such thing as a straightforward villain, and one thing he said that really struck me was ‘evil is a really basic term’.
Thursday 18 April 2013: From a Director’s Point of View by Becky Hodges
When we arrived the actors were mid rehearsal however, that didn’t stop the cast and crew from saying hello and making us feel more than welcome! The rehearsal showed the blocking of the scene where it is revealed that Mercutio and Tybalt are dead. The scene is emotionally intense and requires anger and upset from both actors, especially Romeo. The Narrator reminds Romeo of the outcomes and unhappiness that will occur from his new marriage to Juliet, the young lovers oblivious to the possible discord that they will cause.
This was the first time I had heard some of the intended music that will accompany the play. The music reflects Romeo’s anger and anguish that he would have felt when he killed Tybalt with the use of a heavy bass and aggressive dance beat (that neither ourselves, nor the actors, could help fist pounding to…).
I began to look into the way Iqbal Khan direct, his method being very ‘hands on’ and unafraid to explore the acting space and experiment with possibilities. By doing this, he shows the actors precisely what he wants and uses the space to demonstrate. Iqbal takes the time to go through his ideas with the actors, explain the thought process behind them before receiving suggestions and listening to what they have to say. If an actor is not comfortable with an idea or doesn’t understand the reason behind it, Iqbal continues his ideas in order to help get the best performance out of the actors.
Wednesday 17 April 2013 by Hannah Cross and Carla Lin
Today, Box Clever had a session with a Year 9 Class and began to explore the girls own work. The year 9’s have just been studying Romeo and Juliet in English and therefore they brought along their own posters of their creative resetting of R&J. They spread their work out on the floor for the actors and Iqbal Khan to explore and choose some of them to talk about with the girls. At the end of the session, for a little preview of the magic that was to come, the cast showed the girls how they were using the set to stage the famous ‘balcony scene’.
I spoke to Carla Lin regarding her opinion on the day, ‘I thought it was fantastic, very interactive and helpful to know another person’s take on R&J. I liked how each of the actors chose a poster we did on the play and asked us question about it and suggest to us how we could have improved them. At the end, they showed us their balcony scene and it was very fun and inspiring to watch the actors at work!’
Tuesday 16 April 2013 by Hannah Cross
After a ‘meet and greet’ session with the interns and cast yesterday, each girl was allowed to visit rehearsals whenever possible to gather inspiration and see how this adaption of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was to be created. This opportunity is fantastic, not only for us as interns, but also for the other girls in the school with certain classes having allotted times with the experienced theatrical crew. Today, two Year 10 English classes watched the cast exploring the set for the first time. ( A heart shaped hill connected to a heart shape ladder is how one would most easily describe it…see picture).
The cast used the set as a giant playground, experimenting with types of movements that one could use and how to incorporate it into their play. The cast always thought about how each different character would experience the set, how they would move in it and how their character would adapt to it. The process of familiarising with a set and being able to feel each movement is one of the things that can make the difference between a great production and a fantastic production.
Monday 15 April 2013 by Hannah Cross
After walking into a buzzing assembly hall wondering what all the fuss was about, I shuffled forwards in the queue to spare seats to see two big heart shaped pieces of set dominate the Oxford High School main hall. The murmurs of the OHS girls were more than one would usually allow and the words ‘Romeo and Juliet’ were amongst most. Finally, realising what on earth was going on, I exclaimed ‘Box Clever!’ , receiving a very quizzical look from my peer.
The presentation then revealed the new inhabitants of OHS and a brief explanation of what was to happen in the next couple of weeks. Following on from that, the school was introduced to each and every individual of the company, including famous director, Mr Iqbal Khan himself. The upcoming weeks in the life of an Oxford High School girl were about to be, somewhat changed…
Box Clever take up residence at Oxford High School
We are delighted to welcome the Box Clever Theatre Company to Oxford High School, who started a two week theatre residency at the school on Monday 15 April 2013.
Box Clever will be working on a newly adapted production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ directed by the renowned theatre director Iqbal Khan, known for his previous productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Studio.
You can watch a preview of their work – including the dramatic heart staging.
After the residency at Oxford High School, the cast of professional actors will transfer to The Unicorn Theatre in London, where the show will run from 29 April to 9 May.
Mr Michael Wicherek, Artistic Director for Box Clever says: “Oxford High School is proving to be a tremendously creative environment to work in, for the actors and all the creative team. The sharing of the creative process between the students and the theatre company will undoubtedly lead to a far more interesting product at the end.”
Mrs Judith Carlisle, Head of Oxford High School says: “This is no ordinary residency. By collaborating with Iqbal Khan and the actors in the early stages of rehearsal, the girls are involved in (and inspired by) professional creative processes. It will be great for us all to see the result of their influence when we see this fresh interpretation of Romeo and Juliet in performance.”
Box Clever is an award-winning, writer-led theatre company dedicated to the creation of contemporary theatre for young people. The mission of the company is to inspire, challenge and motivate young audiences. Over the last fifteen years, Box Clever has reached thousands of young people across the UK and beyond, with artistic productions and workshops that are imaginative and radical. Recently, Year 7-9 students at Oxford High School were highly entertained by Box Clever’s workshops and performances on Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
The production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is very much directed towards young people and during the theatre residency there will be opportunities for the school to attend ‘Open rehearsals’ where students may watch, learn and experience the process of producing a play from page to stage.
Students from Years 9-13 were also invited to apply for internship positions with Box Clever in directing, technical stage-management, production artist and writer for the period of the residency. Interns will be given the exceptional opportunity to attend rehearsals with Iqbal Khan and the cast. The girls chosen for the internships are (pictured below with the cast and crew of Box Clever and Director Iqbal Khan):
Director: Agnes Carrington-Windo (Year 10) and Becky Hodges (Year 10)
Stage Management/Technical: Maya Abouzeid (Year 12) and Rowan Read (Year 10)
Artist in Residence: Ellie Daly (Year 9), Jessica Howarth (Year 9) and Sabrina Rosenheim (Year 10)
Writer in Residence: Hannah Cross (Year 12) and Dora Morgan (Year 10)
Becky Hodges, one of two Directing Interns says: “Already in the first few rehearsals, it has been amazing to see how a play develops. I am very much enjoying watching Iqbal Khan direct. It is an amazing opportunity to be given this insight into the world of professional theatre.”
Sabrina Rosenheim, one of three Artist in Residence interns says: “Working with Box Clever as an artist is fantastic. It is proving a superb opportunity as an artist to work first hand from very active and expressive figures.”
To celebrate the end of the production process there will be a preview performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at Oxford High School on Friday 26 April followed by a post-show discussion with Iqbal Khan and the cast.
The Shakespeare Schools’ Festival
Directed by Mr Hypher and Mrs Redston
Mr Hypher (Head of Physics) and Mrs Redston (Teacher of English) skilfully directed this beautifully staged piece of ‘Macbeth’ with a cast of Year 8s and Year 9s. The reduced half hour play was part of a festival and OHS joined with three other schools to celebrate Shakespeare. The words ‘To Scone!’ ended the play on a rising inflection of hope, leaving a feeling that peace was restored. I left the theatre rejuvenated. This was no ‘star-led’ piece but a huge, masterfully choreographed ensemble work. As the SSF’s Head co-ordinator said at the end: ‘the clarity of language, the maturity in the understanding of the text….made it a delight to relish the language’. She claimed that she was ‘gobsmacked’… I have to say that I was too! Bravo to all the company, the two directors, cast, musicians and the production team!
Lower School Production of ‘The King and I’
The ‘King and I‘ is a musical with an extraordinary structure that is built around a duologue between Anna and the King. Pandora Dewan (8H) and Hannah Tillmann-Morris’ (9S) professionalism and talent exceeded all expectations in both roles. ‘The Ballet’ sequence involves Tuptim revealing her hatred of being ‘a slave’ to the king’s polygamy. The piece is set to impress the British Empire and prevent The King from being seen as a ‘barbarian’. The ‘Temple Dancers’ , led by Janaki Desai (12G), were a spectacular treat and I could hear gasps of surprise and joy from the audience as they ‘wowed’ us all with their beautifully choreographed movements. The musicians accompanied this extraordinary production – some playing in the pit for the first time! They played their hearts out and the sound they all produced was awe-inspiring for students so young. The whole cast and production team were a delight to work with and ‘getting to know them’ was terrific fun!