Bancroft's Drama department is at the creative heart of the school. At curricular level, all year pupils in the Thirds and Removes (years 7 and 8) study Drama, covering topics such as genre, text, improvisation, physical theatre and characterisation. Students in the Lower Fourth (year 9) can choose Drama as one of their two creative/technology options and they are offered a programme of study which prepares them for GCSE. The department offers the subject to A Level.
Co-curricular drama includes the annual Senior and Lower School productions, House Drama competition and Taal. Our productions, as well as the practical GCSE work, are supported by the department’s Theatre Technician. Productions are varied and ambitious, embracing challenges from Shakespeare to Sondheim.
Recent senior productions have included: Into the Woods, Fame (a production filmed during COVID-19 lockdown), Blue Stockings, Chicago, A Winter’s Tale, Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables, Amadeus, Coram Boy, Guys and Dolls and Fahrenheit 451.
Drama productions by Junior and Middle School pupils have included: Bugsy Malone, Wendy and Peter, Hamlet, The Government Inspector, Emil and the Detectives, Alice in Wonderland and The Peach Child.
“Sweeney Todd was the best school musical I have ever seen. There was an incredible amount of enthusiasm, energy and brilliance on stage.”Head, Simon Marshall
Pupils have the opportunity to participate in the annual Inter House DPerforming Arts competition; this popular student led event gives opportunities to pupils from all year groups to develop their drama skills both on stage and as part of the creative team.
Senior pupils from Bancroft’s have regularly performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since 2012; where they have received critical acclaim. Their 2014 production in Edinburgh was Company by Stephen Sondheim and in 2015 they performed the comedy Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime. Bancroft’s returned to the Fringe in 2018 when they performed Franz Wedekind’s challenging Spring Awakening.
We have two performing spaces: the traditional proscenium arch staging of the Great Hall and the flexibility offered by the Performing Art Centre, which offers a more intimate space and can be adapted to suit a variety of staging. Both spaces have sophisticated sound and light systems and pupils have the chance to learn how to operate these and to work on the technical side of productions.
Theatre trips are frequently organised for pupils studying Drama as part of their academic programme and also for those who are just interested in broadening their cultural horizons. Although such visits are primarily to London theatres, the Drama Department has joined with the History department in trips to New York, when pupils experienced a show on Broadway. We also invite professional practitioners into School to run workshops, for example members of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical’s team led a session on improvisation. Senior pupils have the opportunity to work on playwriting skills as part of New Views – the National Theatre’s annual playwriting programme for 14 to 19-year-olds.