A Level Theatre Studies

 

What is it about at sixth form level?

Plays and performance have long been part of human culture. The theatre is a unique space in which the world, society and the human condition can be explored. It is a public place where the voices of ordinary people can be heard raising questions about the forces that shape our lives. It is furthermore an exciting place. The playwright invites the audience to observe the action whilst asking for their intellectual participation. In the Theatre Studies A level you will take a close and critical look at the playwright’s art. You will consider how different styles and social contexts can shape the interpretation of a script, influence a rehearsal and achieve a successful performance. You will learn how to look at a play from different angles: as a spectator, as an actor and as a director. The course will enable you to develop a deep appreciation of what is involved in a successful piece of theatre.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will begin with the study of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s “Our Country’s Good”. This will involve both theoretical and practical exploration. You will also attend a variety of live productions which will be discussed and explored in terms of theatrical merits and style. If you opt to sit the AS level exam you will sit a written paper on both
the studied text and one of the live productions seen during the course. You must also prepare a portfolio of work to accompany a practical examination of an extract of a play.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will deepen your study of both “Hedda Gabler” and “Our Country’s Good”. You will be encouraged to continue attending as many theatre excursions as possible which could be used to answer Section C of the written paper. You will complete a 3 hour written exam answering questions on both studied texts and a live production of your choice. You will
perform in both devised and scripted pieces of practical work which will be assessed as part of the A level course. To accompany the practical work you must collate a working notebook and a reflective report which will act as the coursework portion of the course.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Through the detailed study of plays and their presentation, Theatre Studies develops your analytical and interpretative skills along with your ability to articulate your ideas clearly in a written form. It will of course also develop your creative abilities and your understanding of the workings of theatre. It has a natural affinity with degree courses such as English and Drama at university but works well with subjects such as History and Politics. It also provides a basis on which to pursue acting at a drama school or for a career “backstage” in theatre design and management.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

Theatre Studies is an academic subject with a performance element and not a drama course based solely on performance! You will be studying plays both practically and theoretically to examine the social and political themes they raise. Commitment is a must, as you will be in a group devising a piece for performance and thereby contribute to determining everyone’s final grade for the practical elements.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

In the first year, you will begin with the study of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s “Our Country’s Good”. This will involve both theoretical and practical exploration. You will also attend a variety of live productions which will be discussed and explored in terms of theatrical merits and style. If you opt to sit the AS level exam you will sit a written paper on both
the studied text and one of the live productions seen during the course. You must also prepare a portfolio of work to accompany a practical examination of an extract of a play.

A level

In the second year, you will deepen your study of both “Hedda Gabler” and “Our Country’s Good”. You will be encouraged to continue attending as many theatre excursions as possible which could be used to answer Section C of the written paper. You will complete a 3 hour written exam answering questions on both studied texts and a live production of your choice. You will
perform in both devised and scripted pieces of practical work which will be assessed as part of the A level course. To accompany the practical work you must collate a working notebook and a reflective report which will act as the coursework portion of the course.

Reading

Our Country’s Good
By T. Wertenbaker, edited by B. Naismith
Published by Methuen Drama, ISBN 978-0413692306

Hedda Gabler (Student Editions)
By H. Ibsen, edited by D. Thomas
Published by Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-0713770707

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: AQA 7261, A level: AQA 7262

Richard Martin
Head of Department