Linking drama across the curriculum
Drama is uniquely placed as a subject to be part of every subject taught in school. Although its applications are perhaps more limited in Maths, than in say in history and PSHE, there is always room for role play within a given context. The children respond very well to the opportunity to use both their imagination and their capability for play.In French, pupils perform short conversations, recite poems and short plays both to the whole school community and our partnered school in France.
In History, children may collaborate to act in and often film a re-enactment of famous historical events or to imagine the personal experiences of those living during historically important times. This year children in year 5 and 6 have re-enacted the journeys of pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, year 1 and 2 have used inspiration from their visit to The Golden Hinde to become Francis Drake and his crew of privateers whereas Year 3 and 4 pupils brought to life the complicated relationship of Julius Caesar and Brutus. In 2014/15, children in year 3/4 captured the experiences of migrants coming to England in the 1950s and 1960s. Year 5/6 created reflections on the Victorian period. In 2013/14, the Battle of Hastings was created by year 1/2 and London during the Blitz was brought to live by year 5/6 performance of The Acme Thunderer.
Dance is closely interwoven with drama at Charles Dickens. All our productions feature at least one dance, though usually more. Our choreographer is Delene , our resident dance teacher, who brings her experience as a practitioner for Rambert Dance. Many pupils enjoy this aspect of performing as the strong and personal movements appeal to them. The school enjoys and values the supportive role of Rambert Dance in raising the profile of contemporary dance across the school and allowing children to build their confidence in using dance as physical expression.
We are committed to developing filmmaking as part of our creative arts programme. In recent years, pupils have learnt to combine their drama skills with IT and technology, as well as English. Whilst a completed film is the aim of the projects, the projects are very much about process.
Filmmaking is also an excellent vehicle for the pupils to teach themselves about project management, as well as the artistic side of the creating a movie. The process provides a platform for collaborative work as well as creating an environment for personal development and leadership.
Year 5 and 6 are leading the way with this aspect of drama. Pupils in Year 5 and 6 have written and edited their own silent movies, taking their inspiration from the success of recent films such as ‘The Artist’. Pupils shared their films in an ‘Awards Night’ where their families were invited to a screening.
The pupils are also encouraged to stage their own productions. We focus on plays, which offer opportunities for choral work and physical theatre. The vast majority of our productions are original pieces written in collaboration with pupils using their learning from English and the Humanities. Music is developed by professional musicians supporting pupils. Pupils also work alongside our ‘Artists in Residence’ and their dance interwoven under the guidance of our Dancer in Residence. Pupils are actively encouraged to take part in all aspects of a production from set design, lighting and sound, costume and direction.
To help extend the performance opportunities for the older children, there are additional opportunities including Shakespeare’s Schools’ Festival. In 2015, children from Charles Dickens Primary performed King Lear.
Children have visit the theatre at least once a year. In 2014/15 many year groups were able to visit The Unicorn Theatre and Year 5/6 enjoyed an immersive experience with Punch-Drunk Theatre Group. In 2015/16 pupils in year 3 and 4 will watch a Royal Ballet matinee as well as visiting The Unicorn Theatre. Pupils from year 5 and 6 will enjoy “War Horse’ in the west end, as well as a production at The Unicorn Theatre. Years R – Year 2 will also all see at least one theatre production.
In addition, we are lucky enough to maintain an excellent relationship with The Ministry for Fun who regularly write and perform original shows, for BBC live events, to help children learn about current events. In 2015, all the pupils watched an excellent piece which brought “The Space Race” to life!
Theatre visits are made financially possible by donations from the PTA who support the school’s commitment to the cultural development of every pupil.