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Drama A Level

Subject talk

 

 

 

Website

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/drama/a-level/drama-and-theatre-7262

 

Units

Component 1: Drama and Theatre

The Component 1 written exam is studied throughout the two-year A Level course and is completed at the end of the second academic year (Year 13). Within the 3-hour exam, students will demonstrate their theatrical knowledge by answering a series of questions designed to demonstrate their skills as a director, designer, performer and theatre critic. The exam is broken into three sections:

 

Component 1A: Drama Through the Ages

Drama Through the Ages provides students with the opportunity to practically and theoretically explore ONE play text selected from a prescribed list provided by AQA. Students will study the social, cultural and historical context of the chosen text, and will practically explore character and performance style as well as genre. Finally, all candidates will demonstrate their thorough practical understanding through theoretical application in response to ONE question worth 25 marks from a choice of TWO.  The questions will specify the perspective of either director, designer or performer, in response to a printed extract from the full text. The extract is chosen and provided by AQA within the exam paper. The extract can be taken from any aspect of the play; therefore all candidates are required to have a complete working knowledge of the practical demands, artistic intentions and particular requirements specific to the text. This fascinating unit allows students to gain a deeper understanding of historical theatre that has shaped modern concepts and influenced practitioners.

 

Component 1B: 20th and 21st Century Drama

Similarly, Component 1B: 20th and 21st Century Drama, provides students with the opportunity to practically and theoretically explore ONE play text selected from a prescribed list provided by AQA. Students will study the social, cultural and historical context of the chosen text; will practically explore character, performance, style and genre; as well as demonstrate their thorough practical understanding through theoretical application within a written response. In this unit, all candidates will answer THREE compulsory questions, each worth 10 marks (culminating in a total of 30 marks for this section) from the perspective of designer, performer and director. All candidates must have a complete and thorough understanding of character, story arc and subtext, in order to provide detailed responses for realisation of their artistic vision for a working production of the set text. This exciting unit affords all candidates the opportunity to practically explore, direct, design and perform the set text, providing creative freedom and ownership.

Please note that the texts chosen for Component 1A and 1B are selected based on the cohorts’ individual interest.

 

Component 1C: Live Theatre Production

Component 1C: Live Theatre Production, provides the invaluable opportunity for students to access a wide range of professional theatre that influences both the students’ understanding of theatrical practices, as well as their practical exploration and application of skill in both Component 2: Creating Original Drama, and Component 3: Making Theatre. All candidates are expected to participate in a minimum of six theatre trips a year. Past expeditions have included Blood Wedding directed by renowned director Yael Farber; and Death of a Salesman, directed by Olivier Award Winner Marianne Elliot and Miranda Cromwell. In addition, the department has a complete subscription to Dramaonline and Digital Theatre which means that productions such as Small Island, Frankenstein, Wonder.land and Things I Know to Be True (to name a few) can all be accessed from the comfort of our Drama studio. This unit of work is one of the most influential within the A Level. All candidates will demonstrate their thorough understanding of the practical attributes required to create, direct, design and stage a professional theatre production by writing a response to ONE question from a choice of four. The questions will have a focus on either design or performance and are worth 25 marks each.

 

Component 2: Creation of Original Drama

Creation of Original Drama comprises a practical exam and accompanying ‘Working Notebook’ that documents the creative journey experienced by the individual practitioner. All students are afforded the opportunity to create, design, stage, direct and perform their own production, having taken inspiration from stimuli presented by the course leader. The performance is created over a 30-hour period which culminates in a final practical performance to an invited audience. The performance and working notebook are assessed by the Head of Performing Arts and the classroom teacher, before being sent to AQA for moderation. This is a truly exciting aspect of the course which allows all candidates creative freedom to produce a production in a style of their choosing. Each individual performance must demonstrate the working methodologies of one practitioner selected by the students in collaboration with their teacher. This influential practitioner’s techniques should be evident in both the practical performance and the working notebook.

 

Component 3: Making Theatre

Similar to Creation of Original Drama, Making Theatre comprises a practical exam and accompanying ‘Reflective Report’ that documents the explorative journey experienced by the individual as they explore three contrasting characters from three contrasting play texts. An extract from the third text is performed to an invited audience and a visiting AQA examiner. Again, candidates have to apply the working methodologies of one practitioner from a prescribed list provided by AQA. The research conducted by the individual performer must be thorough and support the student as they prepare to perform their chosen extract, which must be appropriate for the application of the chosen practitioner’s methods. All candidates will document their creative journey within their Reflective Report which is presented to the visiting AQA examiner before their performance of the third extract.

 

Textbook(s)

Compulsory Reading:

  • AQA A Level Study Guide
  • Games for Actors and Non-Actors – Augusto Boal
  • Letters to George – Max Stafford Clark
  • Our Country’s Good – Timberlake Wertenbaker
  • Our Country’s Good, Page to Stage: A Study Guide – Max Stafford Clark and Maeve McKeown
  • The Playmaker – Thomas Keneally
  • The Recruiting Officer – George Farquhar
  • A Servant of two Masters – Carlo Goldoni

 

Additional Reading:

  • Changing Stages: A View of British Theatre in the Twentieth Century – Richard Eyre and Nicholas Right
  • The Commonwealth of Thieves – Thomas Keneally
  • The Empty Space – Peter Brook
  • The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes
  • Impro – Keith Johnston
  • Oxford History of Theatre – John Russell Brown
  • A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams
  • The Theatre: A Concise History – Phyllis Hartnoll
  • A View from the Bridge – Arthur Miller

 

Sample papers

Component 1 Paper