At St Mary's I take creative risks

A Level Drama and Theatre Studies

Experience the powerful way drama and theatre convey what it really means to be human. Through ground-breaking modern work from Frantic Assembly and Shared Experience, you will deepen your knowledge of key theatrical elements, including costume, hair and make-up design, lighting and set design, sound and musical elements. You will also create an original piece of theatre, building your independent research and creative skills and demonstrating your skills as either a performer or designer.

Why St Mary's

Inspired by subject-specialist teachers, you will experience a creative and collaborative course designed to enable your talent to shine. We offer two bespoke Drama Studios, kitted out with the latest digital technology, perfect for both smaller black-box theatre performances pieces in a more intimate setting, as well as bigger productions in which you can be adventurous with set and lighting design, working alongside our amazing theatre technician.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

  • Theatre trips in Cambridge and London (recent examples include performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Juliet Stevenson, as well as the work of dynamic directors such as Ned Bennett)
  • Cambridge Arts Theatre
  • Performances at the University of Cambridge
  • Mumford Theatre, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Workshops with professional theatre companies
  • Writing competitions for original plays
  • Audition coaching
  • Working with local community groups
  • St Mary’s Sixth Form productions
  • Lunchtime teacher surgeries

Enabling your transition from GCSE

At St Mary’s, the move from GCSE to A level is carefully designed to ensure you are supported in taking the academic leap towards a more sophisticated level of knowledge and understanding.

Smaller class sizes enable staff to work alongside you; tailoring your learning needs and making your experience unique and bespoke. When it comes to performance work, we pride ourselves on ensuring that your technical and design elements meet you vision, using our expertise to guide you.

“One benefit of having a small class was that you got individual attention and help when you needed it, and we weren't afraid to voice our concerns in front of each other.” Drama and Theatre Studies student

Course overview


In this course you will study some incredible playwrights, such as Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck, written in 1836, yet still fresh and relevant with regard to social injustice in today’s society. We also take every opportunity to experience live performances from some of today’s best directors and performers, and Cambridge offers fantastic theatres with an exciting repertoire right on our doorstep.

A Level content

  • Component 1: Devising
    • Devise an original performance piece
    • Use one key extract from a performance text and a theatre practitioner as stimuli
    • Centre choice of text and practitioner
    • Performer or designer routes available
  • Component 2: Text in performance
    • A group performance/design realisation of one key extract from a performance text
    • A monologue or duologue performance/design realisation from one key extract from a different performance text
    • Centre choice of performance texts
    • Component 3: Theatre makers in practice
  • Component 3: Theatre makers in practice
    • Live theatre evaluation – choice of performance
    • Practical exploration and study of a complete text – focusing on how this can be realised for performance
    • Practical exploration and interpretation of another complete performance text, in light of a chosen practitioner – focusing on how this text could be reimagined for a contemporary audience

In the first year, you will explore modern theatre practitioners who are working at the forefront of cutting-edge drama; through the original works and plays of Frantic Assembly and Shared Experience. In addition, you will broaden your knowledge and understanding of theatrical elements enabling you to then apply your skills as theatre makers; covering important design aspects such as costume, hair and make-up design; sound and music elements and lighting design, which all bring layered meaning to productions.

Inspired by a play extract, you will create your own original piece of theatre in the style of one of these modern practitioners. You will stage this considering the historical, political, cultural and social research you’ve uncovered, whilst utilising all the design aspects of your production to create meaning and impact on your audience.

The performance component, which takes place in Year 13, offers you the freedom and opportunity to showcase your skills as either a performer or a designer. You will choose two contrasting extracts, from two different plays; both a group piece and then a monologue or duologue, which will be presented to a visiting examiner.


A Level assessment

  • Component 1: Devising (40% of total mark)
    • This component is internally assessed and externally moderated.
    • A portfolio of 2500–3000 words or recorded/verbal evidence between 12–14 minutes or a combination of words and recorded/verbal evidence. (60 marks)
    • The devised performance/design realisation (20 marks)
  • Component 2: Text in performance (20% of total mark)
    • Externally assessed by a visiting examiner
    • Group performance/design realisation (36 marks)
    • Monologue or duologue/design realisation (24 marks)
  • Component 3: Theatre makers in practice - (40% of total mark)
    • Section A: Live Theatre Evaluation (20 marks)
    • Section B: Page to Stage: Realising a Performance Text (36 marks)
    • Section C: Interpreting a Performance Text (24 marks)

Drama scholarships

We offer scholarships for talented drama students.

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What our students say ...

About Drama at St Mary's

At a glance
  • Syllabus: Edexcel (A Level)
  • Devising (40% of A Level)
  • Text in performance (20% of A Level)
  • Theatre makers in practice (40% of A Level)
  • 2 Drama Studios
  • Small class sizes
You will enjoy this course if you...
  • Want to develop your performance skills
  • Are keen to learn more about theatre making
  • Have creativity and imagination
  • Can undertake independent research
  • Like analysing and evaluating ideas
  • Can work to solve problems
  • Like working with others

Production: Chicago

Production: Bye Bye Baby

Our students say...

"Drama and theatre was definitely my favourite A-level. I became so close to both my peers and teachers, as working in a small class creates a very warm and homely environment where we all got to know each other so well, and we always had fun no matter what we were doing."
Phoebe Thomson, Alumni

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” Bertolt Brecht

As creators and producers of original theatrical work, you have a unique opportunity to mould the opinion of your audience or get them to view the world from a different perspective.

Past students here have used their own theatre to illuminate issues and give voice to the voiceless; uncovering stories of the incredible female air pilots of WW2, the brave munition factory workers who risked their lives during WW1, and shedding light on the current shocking refugee crisis. 

As well as preparing students who wish to apply to Acting and Drama Schools, this course opens up a wide range of career paths. It is a strong academic discipline, which will develop your confidence, control and finesse and is perfect preparation for any career in which communication and collaboration, or meeting goals in a tight timeframe are key. Through theatre studies, you will also develop your team skills, and an understanding of others – opening up careers in management, or any context where working with others is important.

Universities offer theatre and drama degrees as single honours or combined courses. Some institutions offer creative or performance arts degrees where theatre can be combined with other arts or literary subjects such as film, music, dance, art, fashion, media, design, photography, history, classics and English. Previous students have gone on to read drama and English, acting, media studies and languages, and another student set up her own media company! Other students have followed careers in stage management, theatre administration and theatre production.

Leaver destinations

Our students pursue exciting futures.

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Our results

Achieve the results you need to fulfil your dreams.

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What our teachers say...

“Although I'm entering my 15th year of teaching drama, I remain completely engaged and excited by the performance work here at St Mary’s. The creative, collaborative process means that the journey, is always unique and special, just as the students are. The A Level work is always of an exceptional standard and I feel privileged to see some brilliant original work staged here, that moves me, shapes my opinion of the world and teaches me something about myself.”