Manor Academy

Outcomes Focused, Child Centred

Y9 - Y11 Drama

GCSE Drama


At KS4 students follow the AQA Drama syllabus. Students are given the opportunity over the course to explore and develop new drama techniques and theatre practitioners. Pupils will be expected to create fully devised pieces, study practically a set text as well as rehearse and perform sections of scripted plays.

The course is made up of three separate components.

Component 1 - Understanding Drama

This is a written examination. That has three different sections:

Section 1 - Multiple Choice Questions on Drama and theatre terminology and how to use it appropriately e.g. different stages and positions. Also the roles and responsibilities of theatre makers in contemporary professional practice.

Section 2 - Set Play: Students must study and explore practically one set play chosen from the list below:

  • Arthur Miller - The Crucible
  • Willy Russell - Blood Brothers
  • John Buchan & Patrick Barlow - 39 Steps
  • Carl Grose (Kneehigh Theatre) - Hansel & Gretel
  • Malorie Blackman/Dominic Cooke - Noughts and Crosses
  • William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Current students are studying, 'Blood Brothers' by Willy Russell.

Study will be targeted at: developing knowledge and understanding of the characteristics and context of the whole play and exploring ideas for how the play may be interpreted practically.

The exam will include one compulsory short answer question for all students linking design and context and/or theatrical conventions. Students don't need to have gained practical experience of design to answer this question.

Section 3 - Live Theatre Production

Students will answer a 32 mark question on a piece of theatre they will have seen throughout the course.

Students will learn how to analyse and evaluate the work of live theatre performers.

Students will aim to understand how the play has been interpreted in the production seen and what messages the company might be trying to communicate, the skills demonstrated by the performers and how successfully meaning was communicated to the audience by the performers

Students will carry out background research into the production and will develop an understanding of the plot and characters, specific features or hallmarks of the style/genre of the production and the context of the play/production.

Component 2 - Devising Drama

Students will learn how to create and develop ideas to communicate meaning in a devised theatrical performance.

Students will draw on, develop and demonstrate a practical understanding of the following:

  • Genre.
  • Structure.
  • Character.
  • Form.
  • Style.
  • Subtext.
  • Character motivation and interaction.
  • Mood.
  • Atmosphere.
  • Pace.
  • Rhythm.
  • Dramatic climax.

Students must develop their ability to:

  • carry out research.
  • develop their own ideas.
  • collaborate with others.
  • rehearse, refine and amend their work in progress.
  • analyse and evaluate their own process of creating devised drama.

Students will be expected to produce a small group performance, approximately 15 minutes in length, of a piece of drama fully devised and created by them.

For assessment, students will produce an individual Devising log documenting their devising process and an analysis and evaluation of their contribution.

Component 3 - Texts in Practice

This component content is practically assessed. Each student is assessed as a performer.

Students will learn how to contribute to text-based drama in a live theatre context for an audience.

They must develop their ability to:

  • interpret texts.
  • create and communicate meaning.
  • realise artistic intention in text-based drama.

For this component students must complete two assessment tasks:

  • study and present a key extract (monologue, duologue or group performance).
  • study and present a second key extract (monologue, duologue or group performance) from the same play.

This component is marked by a visiting examiner from AQA.

Course Content

Physical Theatre Skills

Students begin by developing their drama knowledge. They take part in practical workshops looking in detail at elements that they have studied in some way at KS3. The focus within this unit is on physicality looking at body language, facial expressions, gesture, proxemics and how it should be used effectively to create character.

Bertolt Brecht

One of the most important and influential theatre practitioners ever. Students will learn about the life and career of Brecht and explore some of the drama techniques created and developed by him within his Epic Theatre style. Drama techniques such as machines, alienation effect, body props and symbolism are just a few of these techniques that often become a firm favourite in GCSE devised performances with an emphasis on making our audiences think about a message we're trying to get across.

9/11 (New for Y9s starting Sept 2017)

The first devised group performance of the new three-year course will be based around the tragic events of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11th September 2001. Students will be shown powerful documentaries as part of the research process before being lead through their first devising process by their drama teacher. Support will be given on structure and content of the piece to build their confidence and abilities for devising a lengthy drama performance, which is a brand new skill to them. Groups will be chosen by the drama teacher.


Following their study Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theatre they are expected to use this new knowledge by creating a 20 minutes devised Epic Theatre performance on the subject of War in a small group that will be chosen by the drama teacher. They are expected to research their chosen 'War' and deliver a powerful and thought provoking performance.


Most people within the world of drama and acting would consider Konstantin Stanislavski to be THE most important theatre practitioner ever. He developed the practice of naturalistic acting, where everything is as true to life as possible. He was also one of the first people to set up a school for drama education and his 'Method' has been used by some of the world's best actors such as Daniel Day Lewis, Heath Ledger, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale. Students will explore the concepts of imagination, belief, sub-text, rhythm and tempo, given circumstances and the unbroken line when creating their own performances and characters in bother devised and scripted work.

Our Day Out by Willy Russell (New for Year 9s starting Sept 2017)

The first attempt at 'Text in Practice' performance and/or set text questions from the written exam will occur during this unit. This play makes a social class comment on education in 1980s, when we follow the 'Progress Class' on their school trip. The lovely Mrs Kay takes her group of 'no-hopers' for a lovely day out under the watchful eye of Mr Briggs.

Social Class

Through a series of practical workshops the students will explore the issue of 'social class'. What makes someone 'lower class' or 'upper class'? What are the similarities and differences between the classes? Students will be shown a range of stimulus from across the ages to encourage creativity and opinion on this topic. There is an opportunity to produce a practice devised performance within this unit based on a poem.

This topic will be completed with the watching of the digital recording of 'Billy Elliott: The Musical - LIVE'. Pupils will then answer a practice written exam question where they will analyse the actors' performances in this production in a chosen scene.

Blood Brothers by Willy Russell

Students will begin studying the chosen set text in Y10. They will explore this entire play in practical workshops using both script and improvisations. The play tells the story of Mickey & Edward who are twins, separated at birth and brought up in completely different 'class' of family. Fate keeps bringing them back together with devastating consequences.

As well as studying the play practically, students will be given the opportunity to practice written exam questions in preparation for Component 1 at the end of Y11.

Devised Performance

Towards the end of the course, students work in small groups to create a play in a theme of their own choosing. This piece is performed in between November and February in Year 11 and needs to be between 15-20 minutes in length. This will be a consolidation of everything they have learned over their course on creating and devising drama and should be an opportunity to highlight their performance skills.

The actual devising log will be completed within this process under controlled assessment conditions.

This component is marked by teachers in the drama department.

These performances will be recorded and sent, along with the completed logs to an AQA moderator.

Previous performances have been about the following:

  • Mental Health
  • Fred & Rose West
  • Suicide
  • Myra Hindley & Ian Brady
  • Euthanasia
  • Social Media
  • Hillsborough Football Disaster
  • Jodi Picoult Novels: 'Mercy', 'Nineteen Minutes', 'My Sister's Keeper' & 'The Pact'.
  • 'Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold
  • 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
  • Supernatural
  • Witch Craft
  • Religious Cults
  • 7/7 Terrorist Attacks in London
  • Urban Legends
  • 'We've Got To Talk About Kevin' by Lionel Shriver
  • Columbine School Shooting
  • Fate/Final Destination.
  • Derek Bentley - 'Let Him Have It'

Stage Roles, Responsibilities, Designs and Positioning (New from Sept 2017)

Students will work in groups on a research project where they will present their findings to the rest of the group in a style of their choosing on one of the following:

  • Different stage configurations e.g. theatre in the round, proscenium arch, thrust stage & traverse etc.
  • Different stage positioning e.g. upstage, downstage, centre stage etc.
  • Designing Roles e.g. Lighting, Sound, Set, Costume & Puppet
  • Theatre Roles e.g. Stage Manager, Theatre Manager
  • Creative Roles e.g. Performer, Understudy, Director and Playwright.

Students will be expected to know and understand the activities each role may undertake on a day-to-day basis and the aspects of the rehearsal/performance process each is accountable for (their contribution to the whole production being a success.)

Text In Practice

This will be the final practical assessment undertaken in Year 11. It will be marked by a visiting external examiner from AQA.

Students will work in small groups (between 2-6) to produce a performance of two extracts from one play. This play cannot be 'Blood Brothers' by Willy Russell due to it already being studied as a set text.

Groups will be chosen by the drama teacher and guidance and suggestions will be given by the teacher on the play which should be performed by each group. This is likely to be different plays per group and could change each year depending on the cohort of students.

Possible plays used could include:

  • 'Noughts & Crosses' by Malorie Blackman and Dominic Cooke
  • 'DNA' by Dennis Kelly
  • 'Blue Remembered Hills' by Dennis Potter
  • 'Two' by Jim Cartwright
  • 'Road' by Jim Cartwright
  • 'Bouncers & Shakers' by John Godber
  • 'Our Day Out' by Willy Russell
  • 'Scary Play' by Judith Johnson
  • 'Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare
  • 'Be My Baby' by Amanda Whittington