One of the main reasons for teaching Drama at Raphael House is to engage the whole child or adolescent in exploring what it means to be human. Drama holds a mirror up to the world and combines thinking, feeling and willing in a unique way, enabling students to explore their own stories and the stories of others. It provides the students with a platform to explore and develop their own creativity, building confidence in the way they use their bodies to physically express thoughts, feelings and actions. Drama lessons also provide students with a safe environment in which to play out their ideas, encouraging respect and manaakitanga for others as they do so. This enables students to deepen their knowledge of themselves and develop empathy for others.
At Raphael House, drama lessons encourage the sharing of stories and the diversity resulting from the students’ own personal biographies. We aim to use a range of texts, with a strong focus on using local or national playwrights in order to be culturally located within Aotearoa. Students work both collaboratively and individually to develop, communicate and interpret ideas, develop practical knowledge and understand contexts.
The Class 10 and Class 12 plays enable a whole class to take on both acting and production responsibilities. In Waldorf education, the class plays are an integral part of the curriculum, providing a coherent opportunity for students to develop as both individuals and as a group.
Drama is art in action, providing students with a three-fold expression of their ideas. In doing so, our students’ creativity is stimulated by a scaffolded approach to drama work, enabling them to take risks in a safe environment, leading to a sense of hauora, well-being. By sharing their own perspectives and building these into dramatic work, students are empowered to view their world from new perspectives and gain confidence in their own ability to express themselves.
As well as creating their own drama for viewing and presenting, students are introduced to the works of a range of playwrights and performance artists through classroom study and Education Outside the Classroom, attending NZ Festival events and live theatre within the Wellington region.
Upper School Drama Curriculum Progression
In our Upper School Drama curriculum, we engage the students in performance based work, integrating the learning of elements, techniques, conventions and technologies of drama into our unit planning. We are also conscious of the developmental qualities of each class and work with these in our lessons.
Upper School Drama practice lessons have their foundation in the rich oral tradition and class plays of the Lower School curriculum. Class 8 (Threshold) and 9 (Polarities) begin to work on using dramatic techniques in a more conscious way, and the focus in these lessons is on the overall manaakitanga within the class and maintaining a safe environment in which to work. Most work is done in small groups with the exception of whole class warm ups. In Class 9, the Tragedy and Comedy Main Lesson combines inquiry learning with performance. The students research and present information on the history of drama from Ancient Greek beginnings to modern day theatre and simultaneously work on a clowning performance for the Kindergarten children, which they present at the end of the Main Lesson.
In Class 10 (Balance), there are currently no Drama practice lessons however the whole class is given four weeks, usually at the end of Term 2 where they are released from their usual timetable in order to produce the Class 10 Play. This play is usually selected by the teacher and casting is often done therapeutically, in order to provide individuals with the challenges that they need. The play is usually a very positive experience for both the students as individuals and for the whole class, deepening their understanding and appreciation of their own and others’ capacities.
In Class 11 (Analysis), Drama is currently offered as an elective for two double spells each week. Over the course of the year, the students are assessed for two SSC Learning Outcomes. The class have a lot of input into the selection of their material and the students’ preferences are taken into account when designing assessment tasks. This year, in Terms 1 and 2, the students devised a drama entitled “Nga purakau o Aotearoa” – Stories of Aotearoa which is a collection of Maori myths and songs. This was performed to the Lower School in Term 2. In Terms 3 and 4, the students elected to work on two one-act plays At this level, students are expected to confidently combine elements, techniques and conventions of drama.
In Class 12 (Synthesis), Drama is also offered as an elective for two double spells each week. As in Class 11, the students are assessed for two SSC Learning Outcomes over the course of the year. The first assessment task requires the students to produce a group performance, usually scripted, while the other asks the students to research, write and perform their own monologues. This is the culmination of their dramatic journey, exploring what it means to be human while simultaneously owning the space in a solo performance. At this level, students are expected to confidently integrate elements, techniques and conventions of drama. The Class 12 play is also a significant landmark in terms of dramatic development – students are released from classes for four weeks to focus on producing their play. Where in Class 10, students were given some responsibility for production tasks, in Class 12, the students take on substantial production roles and work with their director to produce the play.