Every pupil at Millfield Prep School has the opportunity to benefit from both weekly Drama classes and highly-anticipated whole-year productions. We find that these classes help not only those who wish to better their acting skills or perform on stage, but that the benefits of these lessons extend far beyond the drama studio.
In the Autumn Term, we are delighted to be joined by Mr Chris Carruthers, our new Head of Drama. After graduating from Drama School in 2011, Chris' acting experience includes several national and international theatre tours with The English Touring Theatre Company, as well as work with the Royal Court Theatre in the heart of London’s West End. After setting up a children’s theatre company and subsequently training as a teacher, Chris led the Drama Department at Wellington School for the last two years and directed several productions, including School of Rock, Blood Brothers and Cinderella. Chris is incredibly excited to be starting as Head of Drama at Millfield Prep and has lots of exciting plans for productions and events in the coming years! We know that he will be a brilliant addition to the Drama Department.
We asked Drama teacher, Miss Amy Chatwin, all about the benefits that drama classes and performance opportunities bring to our pupils.
Drama gives pupils the freedom to explore and place themselves outside of their comfort zones in a safe environment. With games, improvisation and devising, the pupils can trial new ideas and create scenarios and characters to tell stories. By implementing reflection into the lessons, pupils have the chance to offer ideas of what went well, what could be improved and what they enjoyed. This supports the pupils in their creativity and continues to allow them to grow as performers.
Drama requires children to find ways of playing, embodying and finding ways to connect with a wide range of characters, from all different walks of life. To portray these characters realistically, children have to find ways to relate to the character and put themselves into someone else’s shoes, encouraging empathy and compassion for others.
Often in Drama, children will have to use a script. Not only does this improve the children’s sight-reading skills, but also introduces them to different ways of using language, extending their range of vocabulary and improving pronunciation and helping to reinforce good spelling and punctuation.
Learning dances, developing a character’s physicality and playing movement games in Drama classes helps to develop children’s physical awareness and co-ordination. These not only help in Drama classes and shows, but also when learning a musical instrument or playing on the sports field.
Teamwork and collaboration are essential elements of Drama classes and rehearsals. Children must learn to listen to others’ ideas, work together in a group and sometimes provide each other with constructive feedback, in a kind and helpful manner. Pupils may also have to work with people outside of their friendship group and must learn to respect and consider all the people around them, their contributions and feelings. It can also be a wonderful friendship-building experience, encouraging children to connect with others.
Understanding the World
Watching, reading and performing in plays encourages us to see the world in a completely new way. Plays can focus on events, be set at different points in history or in another part of the world or country, allowing the children to explore different experiences. The children gain new insight about the world around them, learning history, geography and citizenship, sometimes without even realising it!
When taking part in a show, the children have a responsibility to their castmates to show up to rehearsals, learn their lines and dances and to give it their all, as well as ensuring that they know where their props are and taking care of their costumes.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
In Drama classes, children are encouraged to share their ideas, work together in a group and to take themselves outside of their comfort zone, in a supportive and friendly environment. In performances, pupils perform to their peers, friends and family. Children will constantly be challenging and surprising themselves with what they are capable of and learn to trust in their own skills and abilities. The ability to speak confidently in front of people, whether that is voicing an idea or opinion in class, or performing a solo before an audience, bolsters children’s self-esteem and will undoubtedly benefit them both in their other school subjects and in life.
Drama classes are taught to all pupils at Millfield Prep School, with many pupils also choosing Speech and Drama as a co-curricular activity and taking London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) examinations, allowing them to further develop their skills. These examinations take place twice a year in January and June for Years 3-8. Pupils gain experience by working on solo performances as well as in pairs and small groups.
Each year group has a timetabled lesson of Drama each week where they have the chance to widen their performing ability and drama knowledge. In lessons, a wide array of topics and techniques are covered, such as freeze frame, improvisation, mime, media projects, topic-based problem solving, characterisation, physical theatre, Shakespeare, Greek theatre, Commedia Dell’Arte and much more. Each Drama session begins with a mindfulness exercise, allowing pupils to be in the moment and relax, using breathing techniques and visualisation.
Productions at Millfield Prep are all-inclusive and embracing and that’s why we have so many! If children wish to be part of the show and can dedicate the requisite time and effort, then they are assured of a role, with most pupils choosing to perform and a small amount opting for backstage supporting roles. Years 6, 7 and 8 have their own productions every year and the Juniors join together for an exciting group show, the most recent being How Christmas Came To Be at the end of the Autumn Term.
Experience more by taking our Creative Arts Visual Tour here.
Find out more about Drama at Millfield Prep here.