The drama department at Emanuel is busy and vibrant, with a focus on excellent skills-based teaching as well as an exciting programme of performances, trips and theatre visits.

Drama is well established at Emanuel and viewed as an integral area of the school’s academic and co-curricular life. We support pupils to build confidence and develop skills for the wider world.

Take a look at Drama at Emanuel in the publication below, or click the drop-down links on the page to explore further.

Curricular drama

Lower School curriculum

All pupils in Years 6-9 study Drama in their form groups (one lesson per week in Years 6 and 8 and two per week in Years 7 and 9). The programme teaches characterisation skills, theatre history and the study of text. Examples of units include verbatim theatre, Victorian melodrama, physical theatre, comedy and performing poetry.


We follow the IGCSE Drama specification. Typically, a large number of pupils in Year 9 will opt to take the subject forward to GCSE (between 30 and 40 each year). Pupils also study Artaud, Brecht and Stanislavski in practitioner-based work.

A level

We follow the Edexcel specification and all students perform a directed monologue and scripted piece. Recent A level performances include ‘Punk Rock’ by Simon Stevens and ‘Bull’ by Mike Bartlett. Students also complete a devised performance using the methods of Frantic Assembly.

Drama performances

Hill form play

As part of Drama lessons in Year 6, pupils work on preparing a full-scale production which includes every member of the Hill form. This is performed in the Fiennes Theatre in the summer term.

Year 7 play

The Year 7 play is hugely popular. Year 7 pupils audition for and rehearse a full-length play which is performed in an evening of the summer term in the Fiennes Theatre. Previous Year 7 plays have included ‘Grimm Tales’ and ‘Illuminous’.

Junior play

The junior play is a biennial event and is for pupils in Years 8 and 9. Performances run over the course of three nights in December and are large in scale. Past performances have included Laura Wade’s ‘Alice’ and John Godber’s ‘Teechers’.

Senior play

The senior play is a biennial event for pupils from Year 10 to the Upper Sixth. Plays run over the course of three nights in December, performed in the Fiennes Theatre. Past performances have included Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and Noel Coward’s ‘Brief Encounter’.

The school musical

The school musical is a whole school event, which typically involves over 100 pupils. This is performed in the Hampden Hall in March over the course of a week. Past performances have included ‘Oliver!’, ‘Made in Dagenham’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘The Producers’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

ETC Project

Pupils in the Lower Sixth are given the opportunity to direct their own play at Emanuel, in which they cast Year 9 or 10 pupils in a play performed in February. They are in charge of all steps of the process, including choosing a play, budgeting, costume, lighting, set design and directing.

Play in a Week

We finish each school year with a performance of a play from pupils in Year 10 to the Upper Sixth, which is rehearsed and created in a week. Previous performances have included ‘Rhinoceros’ and ‘Zero for the Young Dudes’.

Drama clubs

Technical Club

Pupils more drawn towards the technical side of drama are encouraged to join Technical Club. The department runs two technical clubs a week, which prepare the Fiennes Theatre for all of the shows mentioned above. Pupils can learn how to rig lights and speakers, find out they work and even operate the shows.

Costume Club

Emanuel also offers two Costume Clubs a week in which pupils learn how to design costumes and make them for our shows. Pupils are taught about fabrics and colour and, in early sessions, make themselves small pieces to take home before advancing to creating costumes for the many shows we perform at Emanuel.

Drama Club

For pupils who enjoy Drama but don’t enjoy performing, a weekly Drama Club is available to help pupils improve their confidence. Pupils are invited to create short pieces and play lots of fun games. This can also help to improve pupils’ skills when performing in their lessons.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Every other year, the Emanuel Theatre Company (ETC) takes over 20 students to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform two shows. In 2018 the ETC took Roald Dahl’s ‘The Twits’ and Noel Coward’s ‘Still Life’, performing to sold-out audiences and receiving 5* professional reviews.

Our facilities

The Drama department is housed in the Fiennes Theatre: a fully equipped, purpose-built performance space, with an audience capacity of 118. There are also two further rehearsal studio spaces which are fully equipped with a lighting rig and sound capabilities.

A new film/TV studio was opened in 2017 which the department has use of. The department also uses the Hampden Hall for some performances, which has an audience capacity of 500.

Support for careers in the performing arts

We warmly encourage students who are thinking of a career in the performing arts at Emanuel, taking them through all of the options, be it a university course followed by drama school, straight to drama school, drama school foundation places or even routes directly into the industry. We have a comprehensive careers library located in the Fiennes Theatre foyer which outlines courses available at a range of reputable institutions to help students with their first steps. For those who decide to apply for drama schools we run an audition technique masterclass early in the Upper Sixth year, where students can prepare for approaching auditions. Throughout the spring term we offer one-to-one support with audition pieces, preparing a range of monologues and offering advice for development. For successful applicants we take students through the process of re-calls and how to prepare for the different elements of audition.

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