Drama at The White House School is active and vibrant. There is a rich and varied drama programme throughout the school year with many opportunities for every child, from Foundation Stage through to Year 6, within the curriculum and beyond it. Each child is encouraged and guided in developing confidence in their speaking voice, assuredness in presentation and enjoyment in exploring the imaginative worlds of literature and plays in practical and exciting ways. There are opportunities for ensemble and individual performances. Talents are nurtured and potential stretched, with high standards expected and achieved.
The large, bright hall is an ideal space for use as a drama studio for practical work and rehearsals (with use of sound equipment) all year. The large stage is erected for performances at Christmas and the end of the Summer Term.
CLASS ASSEMBLY PRESENTATIONS
Every class presents one or more assemblies in the school year. For the younger children it is sometimes the first time they have ever had to speak to an audience of older children and adults in a large space. It is a valuable opportunity for children to build their experience of speaking aloud and every child is gently nurtured and encouraged to take part and develop confidence in presenting themselves within the given assembly topic. Props and costumes are sometimes used. The older children develop to present their own assembly on a given topic, taking ownership and working as a team to present to the school. There are different topics every week in the Monday morning assembly so there is ample opportunity for each class to find something to suit their interests and strengths. Parents are always welcome to share in our Assemblies.
The children are encouraged to explore fiction, poetry and plays through practical drama. Poetry is given a practical emphasis with the children using their own voices and ideas for presentation. Group and individual practical work is guided to develop the imaginative potential in many areas of literature e.g. Children explore Julia Donaldson’s collection of traditional play script stories in practical presentations; they complete and present their own short plays after learning the techniques of play script format and writing; children present the plays to complement their English studies of myths and legends; EYFS children explore the imaginative worlds of classic and modern stories using role play, drama, movement and music.
Shakespeare is studied through practical drama using Shakespearean texts specifically adapted for junior children and recommended by the RSC. The children have studied Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream through active drama and play performances. In line with the government’s national educational strategy on ‘Shakespeare for all ages and stages’ the children explore the great themes of Shakespeare’s plays such as power, ambition, romance and kingship; how dramatic tension is created as characters interact, the language of Shakespeare and the context of Shakespeare’s life and times in England. The emphasis in each year and with every play is to give each child a positive, active and imaginative beginning to their experience of Shakespeare in preparation for their secondary school studies of Shakespeare’s plays.
(Visiting professional Shakespeare workshops and visits to professional productions of Shakespeare complement the children’s studies of Shakespeare)
Upper School visits to outside professional theatres are organised to coincide with curriculum study. The children are also invited to several secondary schools to see curriculum relevant Key Stage 3 productions: The King’s School, The Queen’s School, Ellesmere College and Sir John Talbot’s Technology College.
VISITING PROFESSIONAL GROUPS AND THEATRE WORKSHOP DAYS
Professional touring visiting theatre groups perform each year for the whole school: The West Midlands Children’s Theatre Company returns each year to perform a lively traditional tale. They always include some of the children as actors and actresses. Image Musical Theatre Company gave a performances and workshops. Shakespeare4Kidz and The Hammond Stage School have both visited to perform and involve the children in practical theatre workshops.
THE SUMMER PLAY
The production of our school summer musical play is the culmination of the school year. Performed over three evenings in July it includes live music, costumes, make up and hair design, lights, scenery, a recording and DVD filmed night, tickets and programmes. Every child in Years 1-6 takes part and becomes a part of the flagship drama/musical theatre production. There are opportunities for children to be involved as singers, dancers, actors, musicians, sound technicians, artists and prop makers with every child working as part of a great team to produce a play of a high standard which is a great experience for both the children and their audiences.
Recent productions include The Tempest, Honk!, The Mikado, Peter Pan, The Blue Crystal, Skylark Island and The Dream of Billie Shakespeare (written by members of staff).
To complement the performance by Years 1-6, children in the EYFS stage their own performance for parents during the Summer Term. Recent musico-dramatic productions have been 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' and 'What to Santa's Elves do when it is NOT Christmas?' These productions use music specially composed by our music teacher and are usually followed by Afternoon Tea, with most of the food being cooked or even grown by EYFS children!
LOWER SCHOOL CHRISTMAS NATIVITY PLAY
Every Christmas the Lower School children perform a traditional nativity play on stage in the hall. With scenery, costumes, sound equipment and live musical accompaniment the children are guided to present a version of the nativity story with very child taking part. There are opportunities for each child to use their developing speaking and singing voices and acting skills and they are nurtured and encouraged to present and perform to achieve a high standard for themselves and for their audience.
Drama Club takes place on a Thursday after school for Classes 4-6. It’s a popular club with open entry. Children learn the techniques of acting, using and developing their voices, stagecraft and movement, all incorporated in active, energetic drama games and activities focussing on developing their confidence, imagination and knowledge in exciting, enjoyable and practical ways.
OPEN DAY DRAMA/MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP
The Drama Club gives a short presentation of their school year drama activities on Open Day. This takes place in the drama studio with no stage, scenery, costumes or props….just the children demonstrating the physical, vocal and expressive drama skills they have learned, the confidence they have gained and their personal and group Drama Club achievements.