Drama and Public Speaking do not just develop transferable skills of teamwork, communication, focus, presentation skills, problem-solving, research, analysis, evaluation, self-control and confidence, but also, drama has a body of knowledge, practitioners, dramatists, and conventions going back over 3000 years.
We believe it is one of the most important and vital things in the life of young people.
The Drama Department in Alexandra College is a vibrant and busy department with many activities and events throughout the school year. Students can choose between taking classes in Speech and Drama or Public Speaking, being a part of the Drama Society, the Performance Module in Transition Year and doing Public Speaking and Interview Skills as a TY module. Those who take classes in Speech and Drama and Public Speaking can also take part in our Festival of Poetry and Drama, and enter formal exams in a number of different disciplines.
Speech and Drama and Public Speaking
These are extra-curricular activities that can be taken within the school day.
If your daughter opts to take these classes, here are the details of the content of the curriculum that we follow and how the classes are run here in the College.
The students from first to fourth year have their Speech and Drama and Public Speaking classes in a small group of no more than three or four students, during the school day. The class time is rotated in order that they do not miss more than one class in each subject every half term. Students in fifth and sixth year come in pairs and attend class during a study period and therefore do not miss any timetabled classes.
The students take exams in their chosen subject each year. The exam syllabuses we use are The Leinster School of Music and Drama (LSMD), now part of Griffith College Dublin, and The London Academy of Music and Drama (LAMDA). Due to the large numbers taking exams in Alex, we are able to hold the exams in the school, during the year.
The students advance progressively through the graded exams in their chosen area as they move up through their school years, culminating in a Certificate Exam in either Public Speaking or Speech and Drama in Sixth Year.
In Transition Year we introduce the students to LAMDA exams alongside the exams from LSMD. By sixth year they will have had the opportunity to complete their Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal Exams in ‘Solo Acting’ or in ‘Speaking in Public’ with LAMDA. The LAMDA exams are accredited within the UCAS system and so accrue points that can be used alongside Leaving Certificate points if applying abroad for University in a related discipline.
All students who take classes in Speech and Drama can take part in our annual ‘Festival of Poetry and Drama’. Held in the second half of the year, this is our favourite part of our drama curriculum! The students enter a series of competitions over the course of three days in Poetry Speaking, Solo Acting, Performing Shakespeare, Drama Duologues and Public Speaking. We have two external adjudicators who come to judge these competitions and parents and friends are invited to come and see the fantastic work they have prepared. There are a number of related talks and workshops that take place over the three days and the Festival culminates in a wonderful Prizewinners’ Showcase on the evening of the final day.
The Alexandra College Drama Society
This was established as an after-school activity in 2013.
Open to all budding actors and performers from first to sixth year, with workshops and rehearsals taking place after school once a week for an hour and a half.
For us, the work we do with the drama society is all about inclusivity. We want to encourage the girls to work together, showing them that collective action can lead to collective achievement and a growth in personal confidence and sense of worth. It is also, of course, about having fun!
The junior members of the society or ‘Junior DramSoc’ is made up of first year students, The ‘Intermediate DramSoc’, second and third years, and The ‘Senior DramSoc’ comprises fourth, fifth and sixth. We aim to mount a production with all three groups at least once a year. Recent productions from the seniors have included ‘Girls Like That’ by Evan Placey and ‘Shakers’ by John Godber. The intermediate group performed in the round last year with a newly published play called ‘This Changes Everything’ by Joel Horwood and this year will be tackling a challenging play about refugees called ‘Fugee’ by Abi Morgan’. Last year our junior group devised their own piece based on Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories.
In transition year the students have an opportunity to take part in a performance module where they put together a musical production or a variety show for their performance nights just before the Easter break.
Last year our Transition Years put on a wonderful performance of ‘My Fair Lady’ and this year they will be staging the brand new musical ‘Crush’ by Maureen Chadwick and Kath Gotts.
As well as performing on stage, the girls take responsibility for backstage, set design, painting and prop making, marketing and ticket sales, costuming and assisting with lighting and sound. This is a very worthwhile module where all the girls are involved in bringing the production to the stage and is one of the most unforgettable memories a student can have of their time in school.
Transition Year Public Speaking and Interview Skills
The Public Speaking Module in Transition Year is a compulsory module that all the students take in a rotation.
It has been designed to encourage the students to develop their communication and presentation skills. The girls take a Certificate Exam in Effective Communication at the end of the course which is set by The Leinster School of Music and Drama and designed specifically for Transition Year students. This Exam requires the students to work on Interview Technique, requiring them to create their own Curriculum Vitae and letter of application for a job, which they are then interviewed for, in the exam. The students also learn how to structure, write and deliver an informative talk.
Verse Speaking Choir
Fifth and Sixth years can also be part of our ‘Verse Speaking Choir’, which meets during lunchtimes and has had wonderful success in performances over the last few years.
A choral verse choir takes selections of poetry and prose and through a blending of voices speaking together, can bring a unique interpretation to literature. The choir was formed about ten years ago and has gone from strength to strength.
Recently the choir played a most important role as the cornerstone of the drama department’s performance in The National Concert Hall for our 150th Anniversary celebration in 2016. Alongside the Senior Verse Choir we had every student who does extracurricular classes in drama and public speaking (170 girls) take part in a mammoth choral speaking of Yeats’ poem ‘Easter 1916’. On that night we were thrilled to have two past pupils who are working actors join us on stage for our recital of ‘Women of the Rising’.