Drama and Theatre Studies

Drama at OLA is not only seen as a tool for learning performance skills, but also as a key tool in the development of oral and interpersonal skills.

A great strength of drama is in its appeal to various learning styles. At OLA teaching methods include a wide range of practical exercises, such as Forum Theatre, Hot Seating, Narration, Soundscapes and Tableaux, along with written activities like workshop diaries, theatre reviews and coursework essays.

OLA has its own Drama Studio, equipped with wifi, audio/visual equipment and professional video cameras. Drama performances take place in the school auditorium, which has a seating capacity of 400 and technical sound and lighting facilities. There is a vast collection costumes, drama texts, DVDs and CDs available to inspire pupils’ work and equip us for performances.

Theatre trips

Theatre Trips are an important part of studying Drama at OLA and take place throughout the year. A list of recent trips is below.

Lower School

  • Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company’s Christmas Carol, The House at the Rep, Birmingham
  • National Theatre’s War Horse, New London Theatre, London
  • National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Apollo Theatre, London
  • Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford
  • The Watermill Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet, School Tour



  • Bill Kenwright’s Blood Brothers, High Wycombe Swan and Phoenix Theatre, London
  • Stephen Schwart’s Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London
  • The Watermill Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet, School Tour
  • The Watermill Theatre’s Othello, School Tour



  • Young Vic’s A Doll’s House, Duke of York Theatre, London
  • Complicite’s Master and Margarita, Barbican, London
  • Frantic Assembly’s The Believers, Theatre Royal, Plymouth
  • Out of Joint’s Top Girls, Oxford Playhouse
  • Out of Joint’s Our Country’s Good, Oxford Playhouse
  • Out of Joint’s Ciphers, Oxford Playhouse


We have also had visiting theatre workshops from Frantic Assembly, Creation Theatre and Independent Actors.

Clubs and extra-curricular activities

Each year the school performs a large scale show over three nights in addition to our GCSE, A Level and LAMDA performances.

Upcoming 2015 production: A Christmas Carol

Recent OLA Productions include:

2014 - The Sound of Music

2014 – Wind in the Willows

2013 – Beauty and the Beast

2011 – Great Expectations

2010 – Bugsy Malone

2009 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

2008 – The Crucible

Pupils can also join the Lower School Drama Club and the LAMDA Drama Examination Club to further their interests in the subject.


The curriculum

In Years 7 and 8, drama lessons are integrated into the English curriculum. This allows pupils to explore the medium of drama and drama methods through the texts studied in their English lessons. The aim is to teach basic skills and develop an awareness of drama conventions, which are very much a foundation for work further up the school.  For those wishing to become more involved in drama, there is also a Lower School Drama Club, and opportunities to participate in the annual school production.

In Year 9, drama is studied as a separate subject, for two lessons a week. Lessons emphasise making, performing and responding to material. Projects at Year 9 are designed to highlight popular and performance-orientated drama, making it interesting, fun and accessible for all students.  

GCSE Drama

The course at GCSE follows on from Drama work that students have done at Year 9. They will develop their improvisation and acting skills to a higher level. They will also look at plays in more detail and look at different ways of bringing a script alive on stage. The GCSE course is primarily practical and students will be involved in a range of practical drama activities during their lessons. This work will be supported by written coursework.

The GCSE drama course is examined in the following way:

Paper 1 - broken down into two units worth 60% of the marks

Unit 1 Drama exploration through improvisation. Work will be based on a theme and students will be involved in a series of practical workshops during normal lessons. They will also produce a portfolio of coursework.

Unit 2 This unit is similar to unit 1. A published play text will form the basis of the practical workshops and coursework.

Paper 1 is internally assessed and externally moderated.

Paper 2 -  40% of the marks

Candidates can offer acting, design or technical skills for examination.

Groups can either use published play scripts or devise their own theatrical presentation based on the prescribed theme.

Paper 2 is assessed by a visiting examiner.

Students who enjoy this course want to study a subject that is both practical and creative. They may have done some acting before or helped out backstage on a production. They may have wanted to have a go at making a play, performing, making costumes, building a set or operating the lights in a full-scale production but never had the chance. They will enjoy this course if they enjoy working as part of a team as Drama involves a lot of group work.
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