Drama Club - what we do

Headington, 8-10 years

What happens at Drama Club?

Drama Club runs for 12 weeks during term time, with a week off for half term. Each term, groups will work toward putting on their own version of either a Shakespeare play or another classic work of literature and will culminate with a show for family and friends in week 12.

Our aim is to introduce children to interesting stories, characters and texts in an imaginative and unique way. As well as developing their performance skills we seek to inspire children to read in full the stories they are rehearsing and also research the issues, settings and historical context of the works.

On this page you can find out what happens in the first session and week-by-week; what differences your child can expect in different age groups; our ethos towards roles and scripts and information about the final show.

The first session

Week one will largely be spent getting to know each other, playing games and introducing the story. Lots of our Drama Clubber stay in the same group for a long time, and this can be a bit daunting for new members, especially in the younger groups. If parents want to sit in the first session then they are welcome to do so, although we do find that it is often easier for anxious children to get on with others if parents are not present.

We ask that all parents arrive 10 minutes early for the first session, as their may be paperwork to sign and details to check – this includes parents of new members, existing members and parents of members who sign themselves in and out.

Week-by-week

All groups will spend roughly a third of the time playing drama games, a third developing acting and storytelling skills and a third working towards the final show. Younger groups will spend more time playing games, developing confidence and getting to know each other and make new friends.

Older groups will spend less time playing drama games but focus on developing new acting skills and creating the final show instead. This can at times be hard work, but we find the sense of pride and achievement the children feel after an outstanding performance greatly outweighs the lack of group games.

The exact content week-to-week will depend on the group, the show and the expertise of the individual Drama Club Leader, as they all have a different style. We are consistently reviewing the work of each individual Drama Club and our Leaders and Assistants, to make sure all our Clubs are of the same high quality.

Our different age groups

5 – 7s

More time will be given to playing games than at other stages of Drama Club, with the show element focusing on storytelling.

The final show will normally be about 10 – 15 minutes long with the focus on telling the story, being able to stand on stage on deliver lines, along with a basic understanding of theatrical terms such as standing in neutral, stage potions (such as upstage and downstage) and being able to pretend to be someone else. The exact content and complexity of the show will be tailored to the individual group – a group largely consisting largely of 5 year olds will probably have a simpler show that a group consisting largely of 7 year olds.

Whilst our Leaders will always work to introduce groups to new games, individual groups will often have favourites which are played nearly every week, often whilst parents are arriving to drop-off and pick-up. Drama Clubbers at this age thrive on routine and this repetition of games allows them to practise concentration skills that they need to rehearse a play over 12 weeks, as well as providing an opportunity for them to develop skills and to see themselves improving at games as the term progresses.

Recent shows that our 5 – 7s have produced include War Horse, Shipwreck (a collection of Inuit folk stories) and, this term, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Arabian Nights.

8 – 10s

The 8 – 10s are our most popular groups and we build on the skills they’ve already learnt, looking at more sophisticated acting and storytelling techniques, usually explored through drama games. Often, the shows may be the same title that the 5 – 7s have been working on, but the 8 – 10s tackle them with more complexity, depth and lines. They also start to show ownership of the work more, with more creative input.

Recent shows include The Odyssey, War Horse and Macbeth. This term they will be working on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

11 – 13s

As Drama Clubbers move from primary to secondary school and become teenagers, we can find that they become a bit de-motivated.

Children who were bright and enthusiastic can become shy. This is when we can start to look at giving more creative freedom, giving them the opportunity to direct scenes and start to look at character and motivation in more depth. The stories that we tackle with this age group can also step up in terms of complexity and range, as Drama Clubber mature.

Recent shows that our 11 – 13 s have produced include The Odyssey, Macbeth, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Hound of the Baskervilles and West Side Story.

14 – 16s

Our 14 – 16s groups are two hours long and, as such, we really challenge and push these groups to be the best they can be. The longer session times mean that we can create longer, more complex shows and really explore the texts we use, as well spending more time developing sophisticated stagecraft and more advanced acting techniques. These groups compliment students studying for GCSEs in English and Drama. Members also have the opportunity to take part in work experience at the Creation office, volunteer as a workshop Assistant with one of our 8 – 10 groups. Some of Drama Clubbers from these group starred in Creation’s professional production of A Christmas Carol in 2011.

Recent shows that our 14 – 16s have produced include Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Hound of the Baskervilles and West Side Story.

Lines and role allocation

Every one of our Drama Clubbers is different and has joined Drama Club for different reasons, so the exact content and difficulty of lines and language will be different for every group and for every child within the group.

We want to ensure that each child is given the opportunity to reach their full potential and, as such, we often operate on role-share basis. This means that several children may play the same role at different points in the play. This not only means that everyone gets a chance to shine, but it can also help the smooth running of rehearsals and the show if people are unable to attend. Finding stories with 16 equal parts is unlikely, so we ask that you support our allocation of roles and work with us to affirm that every part is important, and that often the smaller, character roles are those that steal the scene.

Our style is process-driven and rooted in physical theatre. This means the children themselves contribute many of the ideas, from the title of the play, through to staging and lines. It also means that we use very little in terms of scenery and props, which gives our Drama Clubbers creative scope to use their bodies and physicality to create scenery and props as a group as individually. This means that even if a Drama Clubber is not speaking in a scene, there is always a vital role for them on stage – they are not just ‘standing at the back’ waiting to talk.

Sometimes during the process parts of the play get changed, roles shifted around and sometimes lines get cut. If this happens, the Leader and Assistant will always explain to the child why decisions have been made and will reassure them that they will give them some more lines later on.

Our Leaders are experts at working with children and helping them find ways to remember their lines and if a child is having difficulty, they will always try and help them first and monitor their progress across a number of weeks. It is also worth noting that Drama Clubbers can often pick up extra lines, if they want them, through showing effort, good behaviour or the absence of other children.

Whilst we always encourage our Drama Clubbers to reach their potential and push themselves, we also want Drama Club to be fun. As such, we will always encourage children to take on some challenging lines and roles. Some children, however, do not want a big part and we will respect this wish from the child and our Leaders will work to find where their enthusiasm lies and give them opportunities to do that.

If you are concerned about your child’s role or lines, please talk to your Drama Club Leader or contact the Education Manager on 01865 761393 as soon as you are aware of a problem.

Scripts

We never use scripts for the 5 – 7s and we tend not to work with scripts for other age groups, however, some Leaders and Drama Clubbers prefer to have something written down. If your child is given a script, they will be given a little bit to learn each week, rather than a large chunk in one go or, alternatively a script towards the end of term, as an aid to what they’ve already learnt, rather than a script of new lines. Any scripts will be available to download from each Club’s webpage (see our timetable).

The final performance

Drama Club is twelve weeks long and final shows are usually in week twelve. The dates of the final shows are published in advance of the Drama Club term starting. You can find the dates of the final shows by visiting our timetable.

You are welcome to bring friends and family. We would very much appreciate it if you could attend the performances of all age-groups as audience members arriving/leaving between shows can disturb the children’s confidence on stage. We do not charge admission for these performances. Children should dress in black or neutral colours for the final show unless instructed otherwise by the Drama Club leader. Final shows will usually take place in the same venues as the Drama Clubs, although there may be opportunities for final shows to take place in different, exciting venues. We will give as much notice as we can if we are planning on moving the final shows.

If you know your child will not be able to make the final show, please let your Drama Club leader know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

It is quite common for some Drama Clubbers to be absent from the final show through illness, holidays or activity clashes. This is a situation our Drama Club Leaders are used to dealing with and all Drama Clubbers can enjoy a full and stimulating term of work, even if they won’t be there for the final show, as our Drama Clubbers spend eleven weeks developing acting skills, learning about classic literature and building confidence.

The sooner you let us know of any absence, the easier it will be for our Leaders to work around it. It can be frustrating for Leaders and groups, as well as parents and Drama Clubbers, if we find out in week ten or week eleven that a key member will not be able to attend the final show.

The penultimate session (week eleven) will usually be dress-rehearsal and parents are welcome to sit-in on that session, so they still get a chance to perform and parents will still get a chance to see their show.

We try to be as accommodating as we can be and on very rare occasions we can change the date of a final show if the majority of Drama Clubbers are unable to make the published date. Some days we have four or five groups performing straight after each other, and so we ask for understanding from parents that we cannot change the final show dates for individual Drama Clubbers.

Box office 01865 766266

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