Drama & Theatre

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being. Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) American writer

There is a kind of invisible thread between the actor and the audience, and when it's there it's stunning, and there is nothing to match that.Dame Maggie Smith (1934–) British actor

From nurturing artistic and creative talent in the Lower School to preparing our Upper School students in their applications to university and prestigious drama schools, we are passionate about inspiring a lifelong love of theatre in all our pupils throughout their time at Oakham.

Through our exciting and challenging Drama curriculum we aim to give our pupils as many opportunities as possible to create theatre and this is demonstrated by the wealth and variety of productions that we stage each year. In recent years Lower School pupils have performed in productions of Beauty and the Beast and Alice in Wonderland; Middle School pupils have performed in Return to the Forbidden Planet and Lord of the Flies; and the Main School Productions have included: Chicago, Sister Act and A Christmas Carol. The Department also attracts Scholarships at post 13 where scholars recently performed in productions of Chekov Shorts and Private Peaceful, whilst our post-16 scholars have risen to the challenge of demanding texts such as Handbagged, The Cripple of Innishmaan and Decky Does a Bronco.

There is an extraordinarily rich tradition of Old Oakhamians in the performing arts. That these, and future, talents are fulfilled is due in no small part to the exceptional Oakham staff some of whom have been practitioners and all of whom bring a wealth of hands-on experience to their teaching. Their interests and personal experiences are wide-ranging and incorporate all aspects of drama on stage and screen – performance, production, direction and behind the scenes.

All pupils from Forms 1–3 study a programme of Drama and Dance. Highlights include: the Drama and Dance Showcase for pupils in Lower One and Forms 1 and 2 and the ‘From Page to Stage’ element of the Form 3 Project.

In Form 4 students can choose to study GCSE Drama, which provides them with an introduction to skills required for creating theatre. There is an option to do technical lighting, make-up, set design as well as performance.

Post-16 students have the option of either studying Drama and Theatre at A-level or Theatre in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. In both courses there is a strong emphasis on studying texts and practitioners, as well as students creating and performing devised pieces of theatre.

There is comprehensive extracurricular support of the would-be Dramatic artist in the shape of weekly dedicated acting lessons that can lead to LAMDA Acting and or Shakespeare Exams and, for those wishing to best prepare themselves for auditions – for School Productions, National Youth Theatre, University Courses or, of course, Drama Schools

We strive to give our students as many opportunities as possible to watch live theatre and regularly take them on theatre trips, both as part of the curriculum and as optional excursions. We also invite professional companies to visit the School and work with students of all ages. Particular highlights for our Upper School students are visiting the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) and touring with our biennial production at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Many of our students go on to pursue professional training in the theatre achieving destinations such as RADA, LAMDA, Guildhall, Mountview and École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq. They also go on to vastly different careers having benefitted from the enhanced communication skills, the insights into human nature, and the exposure to perhaps the richest vein of accessible culture – both native and world-wide - that the study and practice of theatre can bring; after all… “All the world’s a stage…”

Gilly Norell

Gilly Norell

Director of Drama & Theatre

I joined the School in 2003, having previously worked as a professional actor and director before retraining to become a teacher. I have been the Director of Drama at Oakham for the past five years and have developed the department to include a full-time dance teacher, five dedicated teachers of Drama, a full-time Theatre Manager, technician and theatre designer, as well as visiting teachers of Acting.