2022.10.12 StMC 2d 1241‘... the theatre is a machine for climbing and descending the scales of meaning … a negotiation between our ordinary level and the hidden level of myth ...’  Peter Brook

At St Mary’s, our highly successful Drama Department is housed in the magnificent Delscey Burns Theatre, where lessons, workshops and productions, great and small, take place.
Our innovative curriculum is complemented by a wealth of extra-curricular activities.  This means that every girl has the opportunity to create her own 'dramatic pathway' throughout her time at St Mary's.  Our mission statement as a creative department entails that the talents of each individual should be fully realised.  By providing a professional experience of Theatre and Drama training, our pupils are expected to develop skills which are life-enhancing.

Girls have the opportunity to be involved in a wide array of productions, regardless of whether they study Drama academically. Shows are designed to not only provide a platform for the outstanding and talented to take their Drama to the next level, but also to urge the apprehensive and shy to experience the thrill of theatre and be a part of something special.

The major showpiece of the year is the Autumn Production, alternating between a play and musical annually. This production is undertaken with truly extraordinary ambition with every aspect of the play addressed with astounding levels of detail. From vast West End style sets, full orchestras, weekend tuition, stunning costumes and lit by professionals.

The juniors are challenged to stage an all-encompassing production whereupon every single member of the LIV Form and MIV Form participate in an end of year extravaganza that flaunts the talents and interests of all involved. The UIV Form are challenged to become a Theatre Company for the Spring Term called ‘Four on Tour’. They are provided with an incredible challenge; to ultimately stage a full play at the Egg Theatre in Bath in the final week of term. Girls can opt to take on a wide variety of roles from acting to prop making, lighting and even special effects design. Rehearsals occur during the term in preparation for what is a magical day in Bath whereupon they acquire a flavour of staging a show in a professional theatre.

Our Drama Department offers LAMDA Grade lessons and examinations from Grade 3 to Grade 8 (Gold Medal), including Acting and The Speaking of Verse and Prose. Musical Theatre also features.  Most girls opt for Acting and lessons are taught to girls as individuals or in paired duologues by a team of hugely talented teachers.

The demand for LAMDA has been exceptionally strong and in a standard set of results, more girls usually receive distinctions than any other outcome.

Edinburgh Festival
Each summer, the Sixth Form represent St Mary’s at the world’s biggest celebration of theatre in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival. We have links with a venue on the Royal Mile and girls find the project hugely enriching as they rehearse their play, support other shows and undertake creative marketing and promotional activities.

DSC 0106Academic Drama
All girls in the Fourth Form receive weekly Drama lessons that provide a broad and diverse journey into the world of Drama. From exploring the work of theatre practitioners to undertaking lessons in devised, scripted and improvised theatre, there is something for everyone and sets girls up with useful skills needed for GCSE or A Level.

GCSE Drama follows the AQA whilst A Level Drama and Theatre follows Edexcel. Challenges are diverse – from studying and performing play excerpts to devising and performing one’s own plays for an audience. Girls can also specialise in technical fields. Every year GCSE and A Level students have the opportunity to take part in workshops with visiting theatre companies and practitioners. Every Half Term, all girls studying Drama are taken to a professional production and often participate in subsequent workshops to prepare them for writing about the shows in their examination. Assessed practical work is performed to an audience in the theatre in February (scripted work) and May (devised work).

Extra Curricular / Overview
The Drama Department is renowned for its high level acting performances and the vigour of Theatre and Drama permeate life at St Mary's. The Senior Autumn Production is an important annual school event and involves girls from LV Form to UVI Form. Each year, Sixth Form students take a play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2023 this was a production of “Grimm Tales”

The juniors enjoy activities such the Junior Play or Four on Tour at the Egg theatre in Bath. The annual Company Drama Competition involves each company presenting a play in 48 hours. Junior Drama club is run on a weekly basis by our Graduate Assistant and LVI girls. The girls work towards presenting informal show-case events throughout the year.  
Performances throughout the school year provide showcases not only for our actresses, but for those girls learning the disciplines of directing, lighting and set design, stage management and production.

Recent theatre trips have ranged from the immersive Punchdrunk production “The Burnt City”, “Anna Karenina” at the Bristol Old Vic,  “My Neighbour Totoro” at the Barbican Centre and “Into the Woods” and “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” at the Bath Theatre Royal . This year the girls have had workshops with visiting practitioners that range from Physical Theatre with The Wardrobe Ensemble and Rhum & Clay to Immersive Theatre with Punchdrunk.

Private tuition for LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) for individuals, pairs and small groups, is an extremely popular extra-curricular activity. Approximately 100 students prepare each year for examinations in Acting and the Speaking Verse and Prose.  Click here for more information about LAMDA.  

Mr Duncan Ellis (Director of Drama)