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?

A level

For Component 1 (Interpreting Drama), students will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre. The exam will be an open-book written exam on the plays "Hedda Gabler" and "Our Country's Good" that they will have studied. In Component 2 (Creating Original Drama), students will be assessed on the process of creating devised drama and its performance (students may contribute as performer, designer or director). In Component 3, students undertake a practical exploration and interpretation of three extracts each taken from a different play. Extract 3 will be performed as a final assessed piece (students may contribute as performer, designer or director). A reflective report will be written which analyses and evaluates the theatrical interpretation of all three extracts. Component 1 lasts 3 hours and is worth 40% of the A level. Components 2 and 3 are worth 30% each.


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

A level: AQA 7262

Richard Martin
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."