Drama has been a central part of Marlburian life since the 19th century – the need to reflect the world around us, to distract and to entertain – is both a human drive and one which binds and builds a community like ours. Drama at Marlborough is committed to telling a wide range of stories; plays from the past that comment on the present, plays from contemporary authors and new writing that give Marlburians the chance to shape the future.
Working under the direction of the Head of Drama, the department employs two full-time teachers, as well as a production manager, lighting designer and costume designer. The department also enjoys working with professional artists who are employed to contribute to each project; these include fight directors, choreographers, musicians and directors who work alongside and coach our pupils.
Drama works primarily in two well-equipped theatres: the Ellis Theatre, a unique and flexible theatre space with its distinctive balcony, nestled at the foot of the Marlborough Mound and the Bradleian studio, right in the centre of court, a flexible black box space hosting a variety of independent and experimental work.
Drama in the curriculum is offered at both GCSE and A level. They are demanding courses which include both practical and written assessments requiring pupils to hone their creative and critical skills in the analysis, evaluation and realisation of performance. Both courses include devising theatre, text in performance and the study of contemporary and classic plays. Pupils are given the opportunity to study acting, directing, writing and design in courses which explore the collaborative art from of creating theatre. There are several public performances in both courses giving pupils the opportunity to share their work and test their ideas in practice. The courses also require regular theatre visits to develop critical evaluations and to experience a wide range of styles and influences. Both courses culminate in a written exam in both the Hundred and the Upper Sixth which are summative assessments of how ideas are developed and realised in contemporary theatre.
Drama is a popular co-curricular activity and the department’s production schedule includes two full school plays a year. These are joined by a host of other performance projects; the Shell play, Remove and Hundred plays and a diverse range of studio productions independently written and directed by pupils. The innovative tInyByte programme encourages new writing, directing and design and regularly produces some outstanding pieces of pupil-led work. Marlborough also has an inspiring professional connection with the Manhattan Theatre Club who encourage the production of new work in collaboration with the artists in New York. Drama at Marlborough has inspired many to go on to professional training at drama schools such as RADA, Guildhall, LAMDA, Drama Centre and Rose Bruford. We maintain strong connections with OMs in the industry who regularly visit to give lectures and workshops, inspiring the next generation of actors, writers and directors.
Over the course of five years at Marlborough, a pupil has the opportunity to be in involved in a wide variety of styles and conventions. Highlights of the programme from only the last few years demonstrate the commitment that we have to excellence, variety, experimentation and entertainment.
Some recent productions include:
Revenger’s Tragedy by Thomas Middleton
Anything Goes by Cole Porter
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
After Juliet by Sharman Macdonald
Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff
Attempts on Her Life by Martin Crimp
Deus Dat Incrementum (a new play celebrating 50 years of girls at Marlborough)
D Kenworthy BA MFA (Head of Department)
Ms J Darby Dip BA GSM LGSM
Mrs Sandall BA