We provide a wide variety of curricular and extra-curricular drama and dance opportunities for all our students, ranging from clubs and in-house productions and workshops, to West-End theatre trips and external performances at professional venues. Our extra-curricular programme is designed both to support the curriculum and to provide an entertaining and powerful learning experience for as many students as possible.
We have a range of performance and rehearsal spaces from a fully-equipped lecture theatre to our ‘loft’ rehearsal space, the main hall for theatre in the round and outside spaces for open air or promenade productions. Our state-of-the-art Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre opened in the spring of 2018. In recent years students have also staged productions at external venues in Cambridge including the ADC, Cambridge Arts Theatre, The Junction, Corpus Christi Playroom and the Mumford Theatre.
We have a Theatre Director in Residence who plays a key role in the School’s multiple drama productions each year, as well as working to develop the School’s extra-curricular drama provision.
- Courses, clubs and workshops
In the Lower and Middle School (Years 7 to 11), pupils can join the Junior Drama Club, the Middle School Drama Company, Dance Club – taught in conjunction with Bodywork – and the student-led Musical Theatre Choir and Improvisation Club. Regular lunchtime sessions provide an informal environment designed to enthuse pupils about performance skills and to extend their understanding of practical theatre.
Our Technical Theatre Company is home to the budding producers, light technicians and sound engineers of the future. Students learn about lighting, sound, set, props and stage management, and use high-end technical kit such as our state-of-the-art lighting desk.
Year 9 students have the opportunity to complete a one-year (non-certified) drama course, while Year 10 students can study for a brand new two-year Drama course or choose the extension drama option which culminates in a RADA Shakespeare Certificate. These courses complements the wide range of drama activities available here. Our course represents an excellent opportunity to develop important skills whatever students’ broader ambitions: public speaking; confidence; spoken diction and clarity; persuasive skills; and performance. Students cover acting and technical aspects of theatre (including lighting, sound and effects), and receive an introduction to other skills of the theatre (such as production, direction, stage management, costume and make-up, and masks).
In the Sixth Form, students are encouraged to write, produce and direct their own productions in addition to those staged by the Department. Sixth formers also have the opportunity to complete the RADA Shakespeare certificate.
In September 2017 we have launched our new Creative Mentor Scheme, inspiring and supporting pupils to explore future opportunities in the creative arts industries. From work experience opportunities to discovering and enhancing skill sets, this forum will draw on the expertise and advice from our staff body and professional contacts from within the industries of broadcasting, theatre, art and design.
Professional theatre practitioners, speakers, performers and workshop specialists visit the School to provide after-school sessions on a broad range of performance styles. Past workshops led by specialists from Cambridge University and from the West End have included stage combat, gothic horror and commedia dell’arte. In 2015 sixth formers spent a day at the RSC workshopping Volpone before meeting members of the professional cast and watching a performance. Students even had an opportunity to meet and quiz Joanna Lumley when she visited the School to talk about the importance of performing arts.
We run several dance clubs, enabling the study of a range of styles, from contemporary to street jazz, and participate in the annual Bodywork Outreach dance show, with brings together the most talented dancers in the region.
- Performances and trips
Each year the Perse Players put on a production, with opportunities for all ages in every aspect of staging a performance. Classics and brave new dramas have been staged over recent years, including Romeo and Juliet, the musical Our House and, Lord of the Flies, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Billy Elliot.
There are up to nine drama productions during the course of each academic year, providing opportunities for students of all ages. Recent productions have included well- and less well-known pieces including works by Shakespeare; musicals such as Anything Goes; A Million Tiny Plays About Britain; One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; My Brother Luke, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; a new adaptation of Julius Caesar; an original promenade production of Wanderland; a touching traverse-stage immersive piece entitled Forgotten Voices; and an original piece of writing, Telling Tales. There is also an annual whole-school House Drama competition, in which pupils take on the roles of directors, devisers and script-writers. In 2017, the competition Harry Potter & The Persed Child saw imaginative, witty and creative adaptations of the much-loved novels and films come to life on stage. We were fortunate to welcome a member of the original West End production of Harry Potter & The Cursed Child to be our head judge.