Drama is both an academic and practical subject, which involves the analysis and evaluation of studied texts; vocal and physical elements; set design; lighting and sound design; costume and makeup and proxemics - the way space is manipulated to communicate meaning on stage.
In 2016, like all subjects, GCSE and A-Level Drama specifications were required to shift from coursework to a formal, summative examination, to be completed at the end of a two-year course of study. GCSE and A-Level Drama examinations are challenging. Candidates must demonstrate a broad, yet detailed, understanding of both practical and theoretical aspects of the subject. Examination questions typically range from multiple-choice questions to one's requiring short, concise responses, progressing to more lengthy, developed essay-type answers.
All boards have set plays of study. They do not demand just an understanding of what the play is about, but how it was first presented and critically received within its original historical context.
At GCSE, candidates explore how a set play might be interpreted from an actor, a director, or a designer's viewpoint. Also, at GCSE, candidates must watch a range of 'live theatre' productions to learn how to evaluate drama, so they may themselves become discerning members of an audience.
A Level Drama
At A-Level, set play exploration naturally becomes more detailed and complex. Several plays are studied, usually in conjunction with a practical exploration of the theories and teachings of key theatre practitioners. Several boards require candidates to imagine their own conceptual interpretation of a classical play, directed in the light of the theories and teachings of a chosen theatre practitioner and with a ruling idea that will make it relevant to a contemporary audience.
At A-Level, candidates are required to write a discursive essay in response to a contentious theatre related quotation. They must then use a response to live theatre to justify or support a line of argument.