Theatre should give people a sense of community and identity, and the KES Drama department aims to nurture and encourage this sense of community through participation in school plays, drama clubs, theatre trips and professional workshops, as well as their collaborative style of working during lessons.
All exam pupils are expected to attend a minimum of four live theatre shows a year, and by the end of their studies at KES it is hoped that they will have seen some of the most inspiring companies in the country perform in some of the nation’s most prestigious venues; including The Globe, The National Theatre, The Swan and The Royal Court. The shows we go to watch, are often challenging, ground breaking and inspiring. And it isn’t just the older pupils who benefit from these trips; Year 9 pupils are taken to the West End every year, and recent trips for Years 7 and 8 have included West Side Story, The Lion King, The Woman in Black and Shrek the Musical.
We put on two school plays a year, one aimed at Years 10-13 and the other at Years 7-9. Both shows are renowned for their exceptionally high professional standards, their creativity, physicality and colour. Pupils are privileged to work alongside professional costume designers and technicians and in the case of Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof, they worked with professional musicians as well. Our productions are not your typical High School Musical fare, but aim to challenge and stretch our talented performers both in terms of staging, content and style.
To encourage a sense of passion for drama and to gain a better understanding of life in the industry, we often enhance our teaching with visiting workshops from outside practitioners and professionals. In recent years, these workshops have include physical theatre, stage combat, lighting design, film, and devising workshops with the renowned Emma Rice from Kneehigh or performers from award-winning Frantic Assembly.
In addition to the plays and trips, we offer two drama clubs, a popular tech club run by our in-house professional technician and a plethora of performance opportunities. Year 7 and 8 pupils are offered the opportunity to perform in the inter-form drama competition, there is an annual Duologue competition and the end of year Spectacular, which offers all pupils the chance to perform whatever they prefer.
We offer one-to-one lessons for LAMDA and last year those pupils who were entered by the School received merit or distinction in their acting exams.
We also offer the opportunity for pupils to take part in different festivals. Last year a group of students went to the Edinbugh Festival, performing a piece called Takeaway by Jackie Kay, which received great reviews. This year a group of 25 Year 10 pupils are taking part in the National Theatre Connections Festival, performing Gargantua by Carl Grosse, at the Egg Theatre in Bath.
We also have a tradition of recent leavers returning to help direct, choreograph or assist with musical direction of the main school play. This tradition has grown to such an extent that we are now offering internships for promising drama scholars who wish to continue developing their theatrical experience during their gap years before starting their drama courses.
Highlights from the recent production of Fiddler on the Roof.