Drama (1968)

This survey of drama in schools, the youth service and colleges of education was written by John Allen and colleagues in HM Inspectorate. The Foreword is signed by Jennie Lee (1904-1988), Minister of State for Education in Harold Wilson's Labour goverment.

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

Foreword (page iii)
1 Introduction (1)
2 Drama in schools (4)
3 Aspects of school drama (29)
4 Drama and youth (64)
5 Drama in colleges of education and drama schools (74)
6 Theatre for children and children's theatre (91)
7 Other organisations concerned with teaching drama (103)
8 Conclusions (106)

The text of Drama was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 12 December 2022.

Education Survey 2

Department of Education and Science
London: 1968
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


[title page]


Education Survey 2

Department of Education and Science

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1968

[page iii]


I am extremely grateful to Mr. John Allen and his colleagues in Her Majesty's Inspectorate for their report on drama in schools, the youth service and colleges of education. It is now widely recognised that drama has a vital contribution to make in education: to self-discovery, personal and emotional development and to the understanding of human relationships, quite apart from being a fascinating study in its own right.

This report is an excellent working document which will, I feel sure, be valuable in improving work in drama at all levels. I commend it to teachers and to all those concerned with the education of children and young people.

[page v]



1 Introduction
The enquiry by the Arts Council1
Nature of the survey1
Extent of drama in education2
Nature of drama in education2

2 Drama in schools
Drama in primary schools4
Dramatic play5
Dramatic play in nursery and infant schools6
Drama in junior schools9
The use of language11

Drama in secondary schools
In the first two years16
With pupils of different abilities19
In the upper school24
Drama related to other subjects25
Some difficulties27

3 Aspects of school drama
The study of plays46
The use of school libraries for drama49
Some aspects of organisation50
Schemes and syllabuses53
Public performances and the school play54
Art, craft and handicraft58
Space for drama60

[page vi]

4 Drama and youth
Drama in youth clubs64
Drama centres and theatre workshops66
Youth drama festivals68
Work of youth drama groups69
Provision of drama for youth71

5 Drama in colleges of education and drama schools
Colleges of education74
Main courses74
Drama and English77
Curriculum work in main courses78
Teaching practice80
The skill of the teacher82
Drama societies83
In-service training84
Drama schools84
Teaching drama86

6 Theatre for children and children's theatre
The professional theatre91
Visits by professional actors to schools92
Theatre visiting by young people96
Relationship of theatres and schools96
Young people as audiences99
Children's theatres100

7 Other organisations concerned with teaching drama

8 Conclusions

[page 1]

1 Introduction

The enquiry by the Arts Council

Miss Lee's proposal that a survey should be made of the field of drama and music among children and young people, coincided with the completion of an enquiry carried out by the Arts Council of Great Britain into the provision of theatre for young people. This enquiry covered an investigation into existing professional children's theatre companies and the work of repertory and other professional adult companies. The Arts Council expects to publish the report on its enquiry at about the same time as this report. A survey of the wider field of educational drama - Drama in Education, Youth Drama, Amateur Children's Theatre, Radio, Television etc. - was to be left for further consideration by the Department of Education and Science. Miss Lee's proposal gave an opportunity for the main part of the Arts Council's enquiry to be continued.

Nature of the survey

The survey was planned to cover primary and secondary schools, youth work, and drama in colleges of education. The purpose was to get a general picture by visiting a sample of many different kinds of schools to observe and assess what was being done, not to single out schools where work of outstanding quality was taking place.

The survey was made during the autumn term of 1966 and the spring term of 1967. In the course of these two terms 46 primary schools were visited, 62 secondary schools, 42 youth groups, nine courses and conferences, 30 colleges of education and 12 theatres. A certain amount of information, previously acquired, has also been included. Members of the inspectorate who have taken part in the survey would like to express their thanks to the many teachers who have allowed their work to be seen and to all those who have taken part in long and often far-ranging discussions.

Many comments that arose during informal conversations in halls, staff and classrooms have been quoted when they seemed to crystallise recurrent features of the work we have been investigating.

The survey is primarily descriptive. We have tried to place the work that we have seen against the background of the schools and to relate it to various aspects of current educational thinking.

[page 2]

Extent of drama in education

No clear picture can be given. This was not a statistical survey. When the important questions cannot be accurately phrased and the nature of the subject that is being investigated cannot be properly identified, figures and monosyllabic answers to questionnaires can be very misleading. The following piecemeal facts and figures may give some indication of what is being done in some counties and county boroughs, but it is difficult to say to what extent they are typical of the whole country.

Of the 162 local authorities in England and Wales, 51 have drama advisers. Some of these advisers, however, have as many as seven assistants. Some authorities are providing drama centres of which more will be said in chapter 7. In a number of areas educational drama groups are being formed. In Kent, for example, there are 25 groups of teachers interested in drama, each with a varied list of activities past and future. In Gloucestershire drama is a recognised part of the curriculum in 11 of the authority's 14 grammar schools, in 20 of its 21 secondary schools, and in three of its six comprehensive schools. In Hampshire there is some kind of drama in 15 of the 18 grammar schools, 24 of the 50 secondary schools, and in many of the authority's primary schools. In Northumberland there is thought to be some drama in all the authority's 14 grammar schools, in 45 out of 68 secondary schools, and in many of the primary schools. In the Inner London Education Authority about 50 of the 300 secondary schools include drama on the timetable, as do about half the primary schools.

We have been impressed by the number of teachers in all parts of the country attending drama courses and conferences, especially at weekends.

Nature of drama in education

When we speak about drama in school or on the timetable, what do we mean? We have tried in this report to clarify and define the nature of educational drama while resisting the temptation to be too precise. The true nature of drama in education can only emerge from observing constantly the work of children and their teachers, analysing what has been seen, and attempting to draw theoretical conclusions. This kind of work cannot be hurried. School drama needs more thought before it can be given more time.

It has been surprising, nevertheless, to find how much time is being devoted in schools and colleges to a subject of whose real identity there is no general agreement. Some teachers claim that drama is an aspect of English and are content to leave it at that; but others say that the demands of expression through the body, which is an important aspect of dramatic art, are stronger than can be contained by what is sometimes held to be largely literary and linguistic discipline. None will deny that there can be a strong literary element

[page 3]

in drama but some will question its domination. Dramatic form is at least in part a literary form. Shakespeare was a literary figure as well as a dramatist. The written language preserves the spoken word. But the use of the body is as much a part of dramatic expression as use of the voice. In schools and colleges dance-drama is popular and various forms of movement, dance, and drama have provided some of our most rewarding experiences. Yet it is difficult to isolate aspects of the spoken word or the body in motion from music, just as it is impossible to dissociate what seems to be a fundamental drive to imitate, both in children and adults, from dressing-up and the related world of colour, shape, pattern, material, and the whole range of the visual arts. And behind all this there is an extensive field of aesthetics, psychology, and metaphysics on which we have not touched at all.

The question that we have continually asked ourselves is this: does there exist in the middle of this range of artistic expression a discipline that can be defined or identified as drama? If not, how do we describe drama? Who is to teach it? If our answers are uncertain it is because we have hesitated to impose definition on a young and growing subject. But the need for clarification is strong and, since quantity of work is far outstripping quality, urgent.

In the next chapter we have described examples of work that are, on the whole, identifiable as drama, first in primary, then in secondary schools. In the following chapter we give some examples of improvised drama and discuss the use of movement, music, speech, and art, by teachers of drama. The remaining chapters cover youth, teacher training, children's theatre, and the growing interest of the professional theatre in school drama.

[page 4]

2 Drama in schools

Drama in primary schools

As we look back over the visits we have made to primary schools we find it difficult to say in a few words what binds together the many different activities that go under the heading of, or are in some way related to, drama. At a school in the north-west of England, for example, we were looking at some infants dancing - and dancing with rare ability. The head teacher asked us to come and see some work that another teacher had been doing but could not describe. It turned out to be what German musicians in the nineteen-twenties might have called 'a choral fugue'. A class of infants was sitting on the floor of their classroom. They began by repeating the word 'Bethlehem' lightly and rhythmically. Then some of them changed to 'Mary on a donkey', also repeated a number of times, while the rest provided a ground-bass of 'clippetty-clop, clippetty-clop'. Some then took up a refrain of 'Baby Jesus sleeping in a manger' and others, 'Shepherds in fields watching their flocks'. And so the whole story was developed to a climax of 'Glad tidings', loudly repeated several times, and the singing of a hymn. Every classroom in this school was full of evidence of what might be described as dramatic and mimetic play. In the corner of each room was a shop or a kitchen or something that the boys had constructed out of packing cases. There were clothes for dressing-up in profusion and many objects to stimulate play and make-believe.

Upstairs in the junior school we were shown the work of a number of classes. Some of the children danced, some gave a demonstration of gymnastics. One class was working on the story of Beowulf. The children were warriors in the castle of Hrothgar. During the night the monster Grendel seized and carried off one of their comrades while they were asleep. In the morning the men turned on their leader for his failure to protect them adequately. At the climax of the argument the leader threw down his sword in exasperation, and the women told the men that it was up to them to protect themselves. In all this work the growing physical and linguistic resources of the children became evident; we were reminded of another school in the north where the children have remarkable powers of expression in a wide variety of forms. On a recent visit the children showed great skill in handling a football; they danced a Pavane, they gave a dance-drama on the subject of Guy Fawkes, they improvised an extremely funny interview with Cassius Clay, following this with a curious

[page 5]

tribal hunting scene; and at one moment a boy was dragged the whole length of the hall hanging desperately on to the tail of a bolting horse. It was a piece of mime worthy of one of the great French masters.

What is the common thread that enables us to describe at least some of this work as drama? Let us look at the different types of drama a little more closely.

Dramatic play

There is nothing new in the suggestion that the manner in which children play among themselves shows the observant adult much about their individuality and their distinctive forms of expression. The observation of play can therefore be of the greatest value to teachers in helping them to understand the nature of their children and ways in which they can help them to learn. What we should like to emphasise is that the instinct for play does not appear to die down in children as they grow older. We may suppress it or provide fewer opportunities but the instinct is always there, changing its form as the play of an adult differs from that of a child. Professor Huizinga has argued that an element of play lies at the heart of a great deal of our art and culture, while psychologists see an element of play in patterns of human behaviour and social relationships.

When we play with an object or material we discover something about its nature. We are, in a sense, investigating its essence. Our faculties are usually relaxed and aspects of whatever it is we are playing with become apparent by accident and unintentionally. There may develop a sense of direction or purpose in our play so that we become inventive and creative. The curious and important corollary of this is that at the same time we appear to learn something about our own identity. It is In this way that play can become a part of the learning process. There is nothing fundamentally different between a child playing about with a lump of clay and in so doing discovering something about the nature of the clay and what it will do and what he can do with it, an infant playing about with words to enjoy the manipulation of the sounds, and the professional actor who plays around with an obdurate scene to see whether a relaxed approach will reveal the secrets that escaped him when all his faculties were concentrated upon the problem. It is among the highest skills of a teacher to know how to extend or enrich a child's play so that it becomes an educative experience. It is highly significant that the same word is used for a child 'at play' and for a performance of King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. If a quality of play lies at the heart of educational processes, a dramatic quality is there, as well perhaps and this substantiates the view of many teachers that drama in primary schools is not a subject or a discipline but a method of, or an aid to, teaching. If this belief is accepted, its implications are far-reaching.

Psychologists say that a large part of education, particularly in the pre-school stage, takes place by imitation. It is a curious process that has hitherto defied

[page 6]

exact explanation. Yet in spite of the fact that many of our movements, most of our use of language, many of the acquired patterns and characteristics of our behaviour are learnt and adopted largely by imitation, the word has a pejorative sense for many teachers and artists. This is presumably because we acquire certain patterns of behaviour intuitively; but the act of creation, although containing intuitive qualities, is a volitional and deliberate act. It has its origin in a response to something we have seen or heard or smelt or felt. And this response, which contains elements of both thought and feeling, can be expressed in a number of different forms. This word 'response' contains an important concept, that of our attitude towards the subject of our creation. Even if we are copying it, rather than transmuting it by expressing our feelings for it, our creation must show an interest in, or a sympathy for, the subject, or our response is simply an academic exercise. Thus in education we have to guide children in the subtle process of recreating something they have seen or heard in clay, or paint, or words, or some other artistic form. And one of the most significant of these artistic forms, for children, is drama.

This sympathy for the subject involves a kind of identification. It is a common experience to see a child so involved in something that we say he has identified himself with it. The process is thought to be an important stage in psychological and educational development. It is akin to love. It is a part of the whole process of artistic creation.

There is an additional significance in the process of identification. When children go into their play corner and 'act' a scene, they choose a situation that has a particular significance for them. They are giving expression to some idea that demands expression. All we know about the inner idea is the form in which it is expressed - a group of children sitting round a table, pretending to be adults, and discussing, perhaps, the misbehaviour of the baby that one of them is holding. The fact that they have created of their own volition a form, which we can call a dramatic form, for the expression of their ideas is of great significance and requires close observation by the teacher.

Dramatic play in nursery and infant schools

All the nursery classes and most of the infant classes that were seen had a play-corner or a part of the room screened off to provide an enclosed space, A child needs a kind of privacy in which to reveal his imaginative life and in most nursery and infant schools the children did not appear to play in an open space until secure in their relationship with the other children and with their teacher. Most nursery and infant heads agreed that all children make use of the play-corner at some time or other, but some sooner, some later, and some more than others. There seems to be no distinctive pattern in the use of the corner. It can be privacy, an escape, another world. It is not always the children with problems who make the most use of it.

[page 7]

Most of the play-corners that were seen were equipped with tables, chairs, dresser, often a cooking stove, a bed, and so on. The setting is usually structured towards domesticity. More girls dress up as mothers than boys do as fathers. Boys sometimes dress up as girls and play with dolls, but there are social pressures discouraging this. In a Yorkshire school a boy dressed up as a girl had just married a girl dressed up as a boy and the whole class had participated in a dramatic reconstruction of a wedding.

Boys in their first days at school are a little less gregarious than girls. They play in what one head teacher described as their 'small individual world', strangely rich though it may be. When they begin to play in groups they use bricks, boxes, packing cases, anything that comes to hand that will enable them to build trains, ships, fire-engines, locomotives. In a school in the south-west the boys and girls were playing, as so often, apart. The boys who were sailors in a splendidly built ship joined the girls in their domestic play-corner only when they were invited to tea.

In nursery and infant schools the difference between one classroom and another reflects in a subtle way the personality of the teacher and the maturing needs of the children in the choice of material. Many teachers have moved away from manufactured articles and toys to materials which children can use imaginatively and with which they can make something. In a school in the north-west an infant had made a boat out of a corn-flake packet and two toilet rolls 'and may God bless her and all who sail in her', he added.

Some headteachers agreed that play-corners tend to be excessively domestic. One teacher said that the children have no interest in any other kind of play. But in the next classroom the play-corner was filled not with domestic hardware and furniture but with cloaks and crowns and wooden swords with the result that the play was expanding imaginatively. In one school the play-corner was different in every classroom according to the ideas of the children: we found a hat shop and a picture-gallery whose curator had the wit to charge 1d. [a penny] for admission; and a kitchen where four children in chefs' hats and aprons were making real scones. All these examples show what children do in a school where they are encouraged to observe, to express, and to create.

When play is well established in a corner of the room, there comes a time when it breaks out and spreads over the classroom, into passages and corridors, on to the verandahs, into the playground and the open air. A number of headteachers think that too big a distinction is made between play in school and play in the playground and that we fail to give enough attention to the latter. Dramatic play is important wherever and whenever it takes place.

The problem of creating an ideal environment for children's play is not easy to solve. Classrooms tend to get cluttered; passages are too public; the hall is too

[page 8]

large. Yet when the environment of the school is stimulating, children make room for play. Passing through a cloakroom in a school in west London we found a little boy perched on top of a step-ladder keeping a dozen children enthralled with a story he was telling. The visitors stood and listened, and passed by unnoticed.

It is generally agreed that the environment of a school is of the greatest importance, and by environment teachers mean the whole life and appearance of the school: the pictures on the walls, the music at assembly as well as at other times of the day, the stories they read the children, the materials they put in the classrooms, the books, the musical instruments, the flowers, the little exhibitions, and everything else that can make a school a teeming centre of creativity. (But why do we see this care for the environment much more often in infant than in junior schools?)

In a school in a London borough a whole room was being used as one large play-corner; it was referred to as the drama room. At one moment during the morning a number of children had come together and were entertaining themselves by dancing to each other. There were no boys in this room. But in the centre of an adjoining classroom four boys wearing cloaks and horned Viking helmets made out of cardboard were sitting one behind the other in a boat made out of bricks. The teacher said that they had heard a story of a Viking raid, they had painted an episode in the story, made a collage, and now they were acting it. They were rowing up the Thames to raid the city. Was the teacher wrong in coming to the protection of the girls by suggesting to the boys that it was more manly to look for treasure than carry off captives?

A boat had also been built in an adjacent classroom. On completion the children had not known what to do with it. The teacher had propped up on chairs some books about ships. The children had looked at the books, seized an idea, and spent an hour equipping their ship with a splendid set of pennants.

The question of how best to stimulate children arose constantly in our discussions. Many factors are involved, of course, besides environment. We found, for example, that vertical or family grouping, or any other arrangement for creating groups of children of differing ages and abilities, tends to create opportunities for a more vigorous imaginative life than in narrower groupings by age or ability. The younger children are enriched by the older and the older seem to respond to a sense of responsibility which in imaginative terms leads to a greater variety of work.

It is hardly necessary to emphasise the importance of the teacher's relationships with the children. It is not always necessary for a teacher to be able actually to join in with the play and the games of the children as long as she is able to come to terms with what they are doing. It is an aspect of this intense

[page 9]

sympathy, which is almost an identification, that has already been mentioned. A young assistant said that by participating in the children's play she was able to feed in material, which extended the range of their play, from within the group, and to draw in children who were standing reluctantly outside it.

Drama in junior schools

Observation suggests that what has been said about play, imitation, and identification in the infant school is equally valid in the junior school. When work among the older children becomes dull and atrophied, it is rather a misunderstanding of the educational process than failure to see the value of drama.

Let us look at two junior schools where there was a certain progression and continuity in the work. The first was in the north-east. The 7 and 8 year olds were acting the story of Polyphemus. Involvement was limited. The children smiled with pleasure as they worked (and why not?). They chose the story because they had heard it on the radio; but the selection of episodes was their own. And how can one tell on what basis they made the selection? It certainly was not to provide a continuous logical narration for this is probably beyond the ability of children of this age. Their use of words was perfunctory, their mime was desultory. Yet of those aspects of the story which they did tackle, they made something individual: the storm that drove their boats onto the island, the search for the cave, the flock of sheep, and the final escape. It appeared that many of them had come from an infant school where dramatic play had not been encouraged. Thus they had had little previous experience of using a dramatic form of their own contriving.

The next class was of eight year olds. They were making up a play that involved witchcraft and magic. The story had given rise to great enthusiasm for writing spells. This they had enjoyed for they could play with words without worrying too much about meaning. But when they moved on to writing poetry they had realised the difficulty of combining sense with metre and rhyme and the teacher had introduced them to 'free' verse. They were having great difficulty with their play because they were imaginative enough to throw up a great many ideas, many of which they tried, but they had not yet acquired the ability to select. This is what some of the children in the class of 9 year olds were able to do and an original and coherent play was emerging. The top juniors had composed a play involving a sword, an evil king, and a cave. They had worked in five groups, watched each other's plays, and voted which was best. This was the one we saw. The climax had an ironical twist that suggested remarkable imaginative insight into the behaviour of adults in positions of authority.

The other school was in the Midlands. The youngest infants did a version of Goldilocks. Rigidity of movement and formality of language suggested that the

[page 10]

teacher had played a big part in the 'performance'. The top infants had chosen Red Riding Hood. The most noticeable development was in a more confident use of space. There was a dance of the forest flowers and a chorus of singing woodcutters. Some of the boys had to be trees but they only stuck out their arms like scarecrows. (It is much harder and far less satisfying to be a tree than an animal.) The lower juniors did Hansel and Gretel. It was interesting though not surprising to see how as the children became older they were better able to organise their material, sustain the story, and enrich it with a more varied use of language. The older juniors were working on the story of Childe Rowland. They were dressed in costumes they had made themselves and used for text an interesting mixture of verse spoken in chorus for the narrative, and improvised dialogue for the action.

The distinction between dramatising known stories and encouraging children to make up their own plays is one that perplexes many teachers. One is tempted to say that the latter provides the richer educational experience; but this is because one welcomes every sign of individual creative work in children especially when their resources in speech, movement, imagination, and intelligence enable them to create and develop a dramatic situation. By relying on the support of a known story teachers and children who have had little experience of drama can achieve something fairly easily. But for children to make the Polyphemus story, for example, really 'their own' in the sense in which we have used the term, is more difficult than to invent their own story, because they have to work within the precise form that is laid down by the original chain of events. This sometimes is twisted past recognition. Does this matter if the process of dramatisation has been rewarding for its own sake and the teacher reminds the children of the story from which they have departed? The belief expressed from time to time that children can come closer to a story by acting it than simply by listening to it is not always borne out in practice.

A sense of form and the need to select are disciplines that children have to learn. Their own plays at first tend to be endless, timeless, shapeless, and unselective. They show how children like to create a situation in which they are at home and which they enjoy, and then to remain in it. Rapid and disconnected action is not a common feature of children's improvised drama and is often a sign of emotional immaturity. In a school in the west of England the children were most indignant when the adults cut short a single duologue after twenty minutes; but another class in the same school had managed to work some diverting material of their own into the story of the Nativity. The boys disposed of the girls - the finding of parts for whom constitutes a perpetual problem in drama - by making them sheep and driving them into a stockade which they had constructed out of chairs. Being shepherds they mounted guard and took advantage of the opportunity for a lengthy gossip. There was

[page 11]

then another brilliant piece of invention. The shepherds were attacked by a wolf. Here was a justifiable opportunity for a fight of which they took full advantage. Finally, the wolf was killed and the shepherds applied themselves to digging a hole for burial. When the body of the wolf had been lowered in, the girls, who had escaped being cast as sheep, appeared on a rostrum with great effect as Gabriel and the angels.

The use of language

We were particularly interested in the course of our survey to find examples of work in improvised drama having given rise to the interesting use of language spoken and written. We should emphasise, in giving examples, that in improvised drama the use of words is only part of what is, or should be, a total expression of a situation. Words divorced from their context can sound crude. Reduced to the printed page they lack the tension, the emotion, the excitement with which they were originally uttered and which were a part of their original quality. An example of this occurred at a school in a London borough. A third year class had pushed back the desks and in the few square feet that were clear in front of the blackboard they improvised a cross-channel swim with a bland and observant radio commentator. There were five English supporters at Dover and 15 French for the interesting reason that the children found 'maqnifique' more fun to yell than 'hurrah'. They then went on to give an improvisation of the last act of Richard III in which every kind of imprecation was heaped on the unlucky king. The climactic words were 'May you have his liver for breakfast!' Some may think this phrase hardly worthy of quotation and when we add that the whole thing was done with wooden swords, balaclavas, and saucepan lids for shields, some may say that this confirms their worst suspicions of classroom drama. But there are two important aspects of this work that must be considered before any judgment is made. The first, in the usual words, is 'what is it doing for the children?' and secondly, 'what is it doing for them in the future?' In answering the first question it is difficult to avoid the phrases commonly used to justify drama such as 'it frees the children'. More accurately this kind of work might be said to make possible the total involvement of the children in an imaginative situation, and just as a skilful teacher can use children's involuntary dramatic play for all kinds of valuable educational experiences, so she can use an episode of this kind, containing so strong an ingredient of play, as a basis for further educational activities of which writing may well be one of the most important. Examples of written work arising out of drama are given below.

The answer to the second question, that concerning the future of the children, was answered when we visited the top juniors who had had experience of drama throughout their time at this school. In a small space in front of the blackboard they gave a pretty faithful version of the story of Macbeth. There

[page 12]

was an element of play in their work, but at the same time they were beginning to act a play. They made clear that they knew a very great deal about the play and found real sense in arguing out the situations and exploring the nature of the characters in their own way and their own words.

'I often wonder what's inside those rebel heads.'
'Send the men to the jousting!'
'This banquet is too good of you.'
'Nothing is too good for you. You are my king.'
'Murder Duncan? But I always thought women were gentle people.'
'Now you know.'
And the leader of the eight exceedingly vigorous witches, having dismissed Macbeth with the prophecy that his heirs should not be king, said:
'Ladies, let us retire to our stew.'

A further example of the remarkable ability of children to grasp a dramatic situation and to express it in their own words comes from a school in the north-east. It is situated in a somewhat impoverished area and with few exceptions the academic ability of the children is low. The top class had been working for some weeks on the story of the plague in the Devonshire village of Eyam in the 17th century. The theme had something in common with The Crucible though it was in no way derivative. It concerned the identity of a thief in the village, a woman accused of being a witch, the death of her son, and the poisoning of the water in the village well. After a short talk with the head, the children worked for forty minutes on this theme with one short interruption. Then they had to be stopped as it was break.

These children showed an extraordinary ability to grasp every element of a fairly complex situation and to work out the relationships of a great variety of characters to each other and to the central situation. They were able to pick up the lead from each other so that the action was advanced not by inventing new action but by exploring more widely, and so in greater depth, the reactions of the people in the village to the central situation, that of witchcraft. Their language was rich and fluent though the drive with which it was delivered and the thick lilting dialect in which it was uttered made it impossible to take down. They were quite assured in using the space provided by a large hall, avoided bunching or straggling, preserved the relationship between the groups and the individual characters, and were economical but expressive in their movements. Here are some examples of what they wrote in their classroom in connection with the play.

From a girl of average intelligence: 'The world is tilting upside down and spinning fast and I am dizzy and my gums are swelling. My stomach is upset and I feel lumps beneath my arms and legs.'

[page 13]

This passage was hardly decipherable:

'I am in the village and I have got the plague. I wear charms round my neck to protect me. I went to church and said my prayers. I went to Margaret the witch and she gave me potions and spells and I put signs on my door but I have the plague. I lie in bed with the door of my house locked and a red cross painted on the door. Lord have mercy on us!'

And from an eight year old:

'And each time they nod their faces at the sign of no.'

It is important to be clear about this. In some schools teachers may find that the children can write as vividly as that without the stimulus of drama. But the head of this school says that he finds drama a way of helping his children not only to express themselves in words but to think. And the outstanding quality of the children's work in drama was indeed its intelligence. They could express their penetration in spoken and written language.

The close connection between the use of words and the process of thinking is not a subject that can be pursued in a descriptive report, but it is one in which many teachers are extremely interested. In a school in the north we found that English was being taught almost as a second language. When we entered the classroom the children were painting. Every few minutes one of them stood up and said in ringing tones something like, 'Would anyone like to give me their comments on my painting?' To which someone would reply, 'It's a gorgeous painting, Mary, but I think you have painted the background a little too dark. It's difficult to distinguish the bird but I think I can see the effect you are trying to get.' It was all a little formal and a little self-conscious but in conversation with the children it emerged that six of them had read over a hundred books during the last four terms and that every child in the class had read over sixty. They could name the architect of Coventry Cathedral and took no more than a minute or two to work out why he had called his book Phoenix at Coventry. Their exam results were also impressive.

In these two schools there were extreme and not unexpected inconsistencies between the children's I.Q., verbal and non-verbal intelligence. Many teachers admit to uncertainty in this important field and await guidance. It is crucial to the planning of a curriculum.

Meanwhile they are working largely empirically. The opportunities for conversation in the classroom, arising from the life and work of the school, are enough to give most children, even if they come from homes where language is not richly used, an adequate mastery of the mother-tongue for social purposes. But many teachers think that this is not enough and that to give children opportunities to express in words a wider range of experiences and sensibilities they must continue to provide imaginative situations for the use of words which inevitably leads towards drama.

[page 14]

A teacher in a Midlands school made a useful analysis of language. It is the ability, he said, to use the organs of speech; to imitate perceived patterns of sound; to realise that patterns of sound carry meaning; to repeat these patterns in order to bring the individual to terms with the environment. So potentially rich is our environment, so varied the language we have inherited, so limited the background of many children, that opportunities for enlarging the articulateness of the children is one of the first responsibilities of a primary school.

It is surprising to find, however, that although many teachers will subscribe to this point of view, they do not on the whole make very great use of audio aids in the form of tapes and records. The admirable standard of speech in BBC broadcasts does not make as great an impact aurally in the classroom as might have been expected, Teachers are, however, very sensitive about speech and properly so. The bilingualism of children has often been commented on. They preserve their vernacular as a part of their individuality, and the suggestion that there are national standards of 'good speech' is constantly repudiated. Speech is personal, but language has far wider connotations.

An interesting example of the relationship between the two was found in a school in the north-east. When the children were talking naturally or improvising a scene for the first time, their vowel sounds and the rhythms and lilt of their speech had a strong local flavour. In an improvisation which they had done previously their words preserved the regional accent but the rhythms and lilt of their speech became flattened. When they spoke passages from Shakespeare, and the language was literary instead of vernacular, even the accent was minimised.

But there is more to be said about the relationship between drama and the written and spoken language. The Norman Conquest was a subject much in evidence in 1966. At a small school in the west of England the head teacher said that the children had to act it because they knew so much about it. We duly watched the Normans charge the Saxons three times, while the girls were consigned to Normandy sewing the Bayeux tapestry; and then we looked at their writing and, as the head warned us, there was 'reams of it'.

At another school a study of the Norman Conquest had led to drama with a spoken accompaniment that began:

Edward the Confessor, almost dead,
Asks for Harold from his deathbed,
He calls for his friend's son
In great anticipation.
At last arrives Goodwin's relation,
You will be, the Confessor said,
King of England when I am dead.
The old king slept in Harold's hand,
He sighed, 'Soon I'll be king of this fair land'.

[page 15]

There is a danger of implying, of course, that the purpose of drama is to give rise to spoken and written English. Many teachers claim that drama makes its own contribution to the development of children and this will be discussed later in the report. But the teacher in the primary school has to decide not whether drama helps English or English helps drama, but how drama, English, movement, and the other arts can help the total development of the child. To survive socially a child must learn how to use the spoken language. But to survive spiritually he must learn how to use other forms of expression. The different arts are not in competition. They express different aspects of human sensibility. We were watching a child in a school in the south-east painting a picture. One wondered how much she was expressing visions and shapes that were already in her mind and how much the picture was taking shape as a result of the flow of the colour on the paper. Did she know what she was trying to paint or did the image evolve as she painted? When she had finished the teacher said, 'That's a lovely painting: tell me about it' (not 'what is it?'). The child began to talk and eventually asked the teacher to write beneath it:

The dragon is chasing the shadows of the birds and the road is deserted.
Here was a fascinating relationship between a verbal and a visual image.

At a school in the south of England the children had been working at an improvisation on the subject of the Ten Commandments and the fashioning of idolatrous images by the Children of Israel. Their work appeared to be vague and generalised and they did not use words. Here are two examples of what they wrote at the end of the improvisation. The first is by a very intelligent girl, the second by a not very intelligent boy.

Nearly dying with thirst,
We were sweating and weak,
Moses pleaded with God to send us water.
Surely that's water, isn't it?
We move towards it!
Ugh! Smelly, putrid water! It's revolting!
We tried to get rid of the slime off our hands.
We were exhausted. We sank to the floor.
Moses tried again. He begged and pleaded with God.
Suddenly, out of a nearby rock,
A spring of water gushed. It was
Cool, clear water, right from the heart of the earth.
We laughed, refreshed our sore, aching limbs, then
We were thankful to God.

[page 16]

Carrying the wood was hard work,
It was pressing on my shoulder,
It was long and heavy.
I was glad when I put it down.
Then I stood it up
And found that it was too high
So I took it down
And took some off with a saw.
I stood it up again
And put two nails in to hold it up.
Then I put the other, piece on.
When I had put the last nail in
I got the top piece and put it up
But I could not quite reach.
So I stood on a stone.
When my side was done I was tired.
Is the broader conceptual grasp of the situation shown in the first poem a sign of intelligence? Is the tactile and practical quality of the second typical of what we should expect of a less able child? How much does this writing owe to dramatic experience? When the teacher was asked why she did not let the children speak while they were 'acting', she said that it tended to spoil the movement. Need this be the case? And would it matter if it was?

The excellence of any piece of work must be its own reward, and the teacher will have some idea of the extent to which the different children have benefited. But there is a bonus if it has stimulated work in another expressive form. The highest possible skill of the teacher lies in knowing whether successful work in one form will stimulate work in another, and most of all, in which. The educational value of drama, particularly in a primary school, lies in the fact that a number of expressive forms are, or can be, embedded in a single dramatic action. Drama can be an educational treasure-trove from which we are often hesitant to enrich ourselves.

Drama in Secondary Schools

There is an even greater variety of drama in secondary schools than there is in primary. It is not surprising that visitors to this country describe the situation as 'confusing'.

In the first two years

Much of the drama in primary and secondary schools is based on, or closely related to, the work of the children in movement. Most of it is improvised drama even in the upper forms of secondary schools. Movement and improvisation play so large a part in school drama throughout the country that they will be

[page 17]

discussed in the next chapter. Whatever views may be held of the relationship between drama and movement there can be little criticism of the common practice of drama teachers beginning their classes with some limbering; and even if this is not very expertly handled it is an attempt to create the mood for practical work.

One begins by thinking of innumerable classes of boys and girls lying on the floor of the hall and doing exercises in relaxation and contraction. Then they begin to move, sometimes in a heavy and contracted manner, sometimes, by contrast, as snowflakes, or a puppet with floppy relaxed joints. Sometimes they move, walk, skip, or run round the room in time to music. Sometimes they simply move to music in a manner of their own choosing. These limbering and warming-up exercises take many different forms. Sometimes the teacher chooses a kind of movement that is in some way relevant, or that provides an introduction or preparation to the work that is to be developed later. Occasionally it is a desperate attempt by a teacher untrained in movement to get the young people to show some kind of physical vitality.

After a certain amount of time has been spent on this preliminary activity, the work will tend to assume a more dramatic or mimetic quality. At a grammar school in the south of England the young people had to be, in quick succession, bottles with corks in, dogs, inflated and then deflated balloons, and waxworks in Madame Tussauds. The teacher kept up a running flow of questions about the kind of dog they were, the colour of the balloon, the identity of the waxwork, all of which they answered readily enough. At this stage of the lesson young people are often invited to imagine that they are on a hot sandy beach. In three schools in different parts of the country whole lessons were devoted to developing improvisations on a day by the sea. Sometimes the young people are allowed to use words, sometimes they do it 'in mime'. Another favourite exercise is for groups of young people to become machines. Percussive modern music is a useful background for this but occasionally the pupils are encouraged to make their own sounds.

It is when we get above these nursery slopes that work of real individuality develops. In a grammar school a group of third year boys and girls brought the troubles of a small community to a Citizen's Advice Bureau, and this was followed by a lively debate, in which the whole class became the Town Council, on a proposal to cut a new main road through the centre of their town. A group of second year boys in a school in the north-west showed remarkable skill in playing football with a non-existent ball. Of the innumerable scenes on the moon and in space that we have seen the one that comes most readily to mind was in a school in the north-east. The young people had been given the Planets as a project; the art and music teachers had collaborated with the English and drama teachers and the mathematics teacher had given

[page 18]

some lessons in astronomy. Life on another world was being created by the young people and serious thought was being given to problems of survival and scientific exploration. Other interesting work was being done in this school by a class of second year boys who had developed a remarkable improvisation on the theme of tribal leadership. Four families each elected their candidate to be chief of the tribe. The issue was settled in ritual conflict, first the two pairs fighting and then the two winners. Each family spoke a 'spoof' but clearly contrasted language. As the planet theme had been freed of the silly romanticism that usually seems to go with space travel, so these tribal rituals had been worked out without any of the patronising mumbo-jumbo that usually accompanies excursions into dramatic anthropology.

To what extent the time devoted in many schools to improvising is of real advantage to the young people is very hard to say; but we noted time after time that when the teacher took the work into some clearly defined dramatic situation, it became clear and purposeful. The reason perhaps is that few teachers have had very much training in improvisation. Their handling of the work is often uncertain and the aims obscure. But when they come to a dramatic situation, the imaginative area within which they are to work becomes clear. This was apparent in a school in a London borough. A class of pupils of 12 and 13 spoke a dialect thick with glottal stops, flattened vowels, and missing aspirates, as incomprehensible as anything heard elsewhere in the country. The period of warming-up had made little sense. But all at once the boys embarked on a play of their own contriving. Three of them found a one pound note. They hid it from the police and took it to the Queen who offered them 2 reward. This seemed to them a poor return for honesty so they made their apologies to the Queen, left the palace, and saw a notice offering 75,000 reward. What a curious way a young mind works! Then the girls took over and, stimulated by some 'pop' music, they created a street market. The whole class became stallholders, shopkeepers, and the public. Some of the girls left the hall and came back wearing funny hats, scarves, oddments of jewellery, and carrying baskets, bags, and a large assortment of 'properties'. As they became increasingly absorbed in what they were doing, the presence of the teacher was forgotten. They had made a small section of the environment their own. Our final memory is of a hairdresser spraying a client's hair with Airwick.

Even in secondary schools a quality of play emerges continually. The market-scene had much in common with a play corner in an infant school: the dressing-up, use of significant properties, identification with adults from the immediate environment, and the free-flowing form of something the young people had made their own. The football match, the days by the sea, and many other scenes are all examples of the forms that young people create when they are given the opportunities.

[page 19]

The educational value of this kind of work is, however, questioned by many people. Of course it is important for young people to have opportunities to play but this is what break is for; this is what they do in their leisure. They come to school to learn and to learn the basic disciplines. Not only do they learn nothing from drama but they are encouraged in a frivolous attitude to school that increases the difficulties of teaching them the basic skills and disciplines. Drama teachers are aware of these arguments and resent them; but the proper way to answer them is not by disputation in the staff room but by demonstrating what their work can do to help children to perceive, to think, and to express. The spirit of Plowden and Newsom is wholly in their favour. They are not trying to do something against the current of contemporary educational theory. But this does not absolve any of us who are involved in school drama from the need to clarify our thought and define our intentions.

With pupils of different abilities

Let us now look at the possible contribution of drama to children of different abilities. If we begin with children of average and below average ability it is because we are reminded in the introduction of the Newsom report that 'Our pupils constitute approximately half the pupils of our secondary schools; they will eventually become half the citizens of this country, half the workers, half the mothers and fathers and half the consumers.' They are the children who told us they would all have to work in the local 'chicken chopping factory' if they failed their exams. To this very large group of boys and girls a great deal of what is said in this report applies. In our section on drama in primary schools we have made no attempt to distinguish children of different abilities and we do so now only because the organisation of many secondary schools forces it upon us. But we would like to emphasise that although different kinds of work may well be done with the most backward and the most gifted children, and although the educational purpose may be different, the distinctions are of degree and not of kind, and we make them here in order to be able to mention the differences.

When young people are working together in unstreamed groups of all but the the lowest ability it is often found that the boy or girl most ready to give a lead in a dramatic situation is from the less able group. Such leadership needs a marked combination of qualities. The boy or girl must have grasped the whole situation imaginatively. He must then have the penetration - for it is more than just the imagination - to realise in a moment how that situation can be developed - simply, to be able to imagine what happens next. An intelligent child can usually be counted on to have a bright idea. But we are speaking of something more than this: the ability to have the idea and to be able to give expression to it in 'acting', that is, physically and vocally. This ability depends not only on a full grasp of the situation but on a kind of intuitive awareness of

[page 20]

what will be acceptable to the rest of the group. There are children who produce ideas that the rest of the class are unable to accept. Among a class of so-called less able children in a school in the north-east one little boy stood out from the rest of the class for the intense vitality of his movements, his deep involvement in everything that he did, and the vigour of his speech. In all these respects he was far ahead of anyone else in the class. On being asked about him his teacher replied that he was 'best at drama' (best of all the children and best in all his work). But his headmaster said that he was 'a boy of little ability, a nuisance, a show-off.'

He was the best in the class at drama. The other children responded to his vigour. It was only at moments that he gave the kind of leadership, in the sense of an extra dimension to a dramatic situation, that we have been discussing, and that was because most of the work was individual rather than in a group. It seemed likely that to put him in a situation in which the rest of the class could respond positively to his imagination and sensibility might help to turn a show-off into a responsible member of a group and eventually of society.

Cases of this kind are quoted extensively by everyone who has had experience of drama in school. 'Johnny's' intelligence was of a not wholly verbal kind. Insofar as intelligence means certain intellectual faculties, it may not even be the right word. But drama, like the other arts, has a way of throwing up a kind of ability or sensibility of considerable value for the child and for society. 'Johnny' could not write a line about imprisonment and freedom, the subjects on which the class was working on this occasion; but he could communicate a great deal about them through his body and his voice. Are we then to deny him an inner life? Are we also to admit defeat in finding ways of using this marked sensibility to help a child towards a reasonable mastery of socially important forms of communication such as writing?

The psychological explanation of this ability in less able children is very difficult to understand. Do bitter experiences sharpen the sensibilities at the same time as they frustrate the mind? Does failure in one field of activity lead to greater determination to succeed in another? These important questions remain to be discussed thoroughly in terms of drama.

When one looks at a class of backward children one realises that in some cases failure has obliterated the whole of the personality, or at least parts of it. Some children are doubtful of their own identity. In others a kind of crude emotional violence erupts at the least opportunity. Every teacher who has ever taken a class of backward children is aware of their difficulties. Aggression lies uncomfortably near the surface.

But drama provides opportunities, as we have seen, for the expression of many different kinds of non-verbal intelligence. Theoretically, it is easy to

[page 21]

succeed in drama, it is easy for a child to find something he or she can do successfully. In practice it is less easy because the psychological difficulties of the children erect the very barrier between the teacher and the class which it is the purpose of drama to eradicate. Drama is an intensely personal form of expression, The medium is oneself. There is no clay, paper, or musical instrument to hide behind. If drama can help a child to find his own personality or to establish personal relationships, it needs those very relationships to do so. The early stages of work in drama with backward children can be very difficult. The inevitably easy atmosphere, the escape from the desk and the classroom, can suggest to the young people that drama is synonymous with uproar. And a certain noisy liberation may at first be necessary. Less skilful teachers, looking for results, despair at ever 'getting anywhere', while others tend to think that more or less undisciplined self-expression is as far as the young people need to go.

Some heads timetable two or three drama periods a week for their least able children not because drama may help their difficulties but because it is all they are thought to be capable of. This is a gesture of despair and of cynicism. Many heads, however, are aware of the help that drama can give to backward children. It can help them to learn through discovery as in the primary school, said one headmaster. Another thought that drama cannot change a rough or difficult personality but it can help to make that child articulate. Another said that it provides a useful link between playground and classroom. But these are tentative suggestions and reflect the uncertainty of many teachers and educationists towards drama whether with backward or any other kind of children.

What do the most skilful teachers do with classes of backward children? One thing is clear; a teacher cannot hope for quick results. Before he can work he must establish relationships. He may have to change what he is doing to involve the children who are hanging back, or to respond to their various quirks of behaviour. He must respond to their persona! difficulties. He must help them to speak and to move. It is a matter of using primary school methods with young people who must not be patronised.

There is an important point of general agreement about drama with less able children and that is that it must be conducted in absolute privacy. Halls that are virtually a public corridor are useless for drama lessons that are to achieve any degree of sensitivity. Some teachers draw the curtains or otherwise black out the hall and conduct the lesson in artificial light. Sometimes they find that in due course the boys and girls become less sensitive and can work in daylight.

Whether to work in daylight or artificial light is of course a matter of general interest. Some teachers find advantages in working in the light of highly

[page 22]

coloured and concentrated spots and floods. They claim that the theatrical atmosphere stimulates the pupils. We must bow to their experience while doubting whether this kind of stimulation is anything more than a sort of nervous excitement which is increased when work is done to the accompaniment of loud and emotional music. Small pools of brightly coloured light in vast wastes of gloom and a fortissimo passage from a Shostakovich symphony played loudly on the gramophone can provide an atmosphere that may or may not induce the creative urge.

True creative excitement, which demands the inward image be expressed in some outward form, depends, it would seem, on a deeper kind of stimulation, on the existence of an idea, however vague, the determination to give it expression, and the sensibility and experience to find for it the appropriate form. Light and music and other vicarious stimulants may help to create the mood for work but cannot constitute the work itself. One head asked whether it was really necessary for his hall to be turned into a discotheque.

At a school in the north-west a teacher had a class of very difficult and very backward first year boys and girls. They were supposed to be working on the story of an Indian village, but the atmosphere of the hall was rather like that of a playground during the afternoon break and the girls had been pushed aside by the clamourous vigour of the boys. When the teacher felt that this unruly state of affairs had gone on long enough he called the class together. One of the boys unexpectedly said that if he wanted to talk to them would he do so inside their stockade. So there they all sat, boys and girls together with the teacher in their midst, and discussed the organisation of the camp. Every child responded to the situation. The girls insisted that the boys wash their hands before meals and the boys agreed provided that the girls did the cooking. What should they cook? What we have caught and killed, of course. What sort of animals do you plan to catch? asked the teacher. There were plenty of answers. And how do you plan to catch or kill them? Again no shortage of replies. And so the environment, the story, the geography of the place, even its historical period all became pieced together, with the girls insisting every now and then that it was their responsibility to say grace before meals.

Let us now look at the more able children. The suggestion that less able children are, or can be, better at drama than the able children is partially explained by the fact that they often get more opportunities. Nothing would be more wrong-headed than to suppose that intelligence is not needed to act or write or compose or paint a picture. It is simply that in any art the intelligence is applied differently from the way in which it is used in science, since art is concerned with expressing a different area of sensibility.

In many streamed secondary schools, the A-stream pupils, whose seven years at school are milestoned with examinations, often have fewer opportunities to

[page 23]

take drama than their less able comrades. In some schools the amount of timetabled drama increases as the ability of the pupils decreases. This is accounted for partially by the enormous pressure on the time of the able children, especially in schools where they take as many as nine or ten subjects at O level, partially by uncertainty on the part of heads as to what exactly it is that drama can do for children, and partially by the assumption that drama is a kindly way of keeping the backward pupils out of trouble. But in a growing number of schools the remedial virtues of drama are becoming recognised, and while it is encouraging to note that it can make a substantial contribution to the education of the less able, it is becoming increasingly apparent that drama can also contribute to the education of the most gifted.

Unfortunately much of the drama that was seen in grammar schools and in the top streams of the bigger schools was disappointing. It is therefore difficult to draw deductions. We have not had many opportunities of seeing what happens when the intellectual ability of the most able children is supported by experience in movement, improvisation, and opportunities for a wide range of imaginative expression. Plenty of admirable productions of plays have been seen and these will be discussed below; but at the moment we are considering drama apart from its obvious relationship with English and dramatic literature.

Teachers are not unaware of these difficulties and inconsistencies. 'Our bright children do very little better at drama than our lower streams', it is often said. Again, 'They can throw up more material but they seem to be inhibited from making use of it'. 'The bright children have been trained to think in abstractions and this seems to inhibit the artistic process of expressing thought and feeling in symbolic form.' 'Weaker children need help in the use of words to clarify their concepts, and brighter children need drama to help them use words in concrete fashion.' And as one headmaster expressed it, 'Remedial children fight: A stream children fight with a purpose.'

These remarks have been gathered from all over the country. It would be easy to add to them. They suggest that there is a very considerable field of educational activity that we still know very little about. Deductions from these remarks take us into other little known territories. What do we mean by a non-verbal form of intelligence that was discussed above? Do we make adequate provision in our methods of education for children of varied psychological types? What are the different needs of different types of children and young people for experience of drama or any other form of expression? And most of all - what do we mean by emotional development? Does the opportunity for emotional expression provided by drama help the maturation of young people? If so, what is the best way of doing this? What are the dangers? In our present state of uncertainty, and while there are still opportunities for experiment, it is much to be hoped that a certain number of schools, which

[page 24]

include some academically gifted pupils on their roll, and which have the necessary staff, will provide opportunities for their most able pupils to work at drama, in some of the forms that have been described in this report, within the English syllabus or as an independent activity.

In many schools there will be a small number of pupils with special gifts or aptitudes for some aspect of drama. It is important that these pupils shall be recognised and their talents given opportunity to develop, though not, of course, at the expense of their general education. It is no use lamenting low artistic standards in the adult world if we do nothing to foster incipient talent in the young. It may be difficult for many schools to do much to help these gifted young people within the framework of a general education, apart from recognising these gifts, which is not always easy, and encouraging their development. But most schools can be expected to give the kind of vocational guidance that will help these young people to choose where to go for further education and to acquire the appropriate qualifications.

In the upper school

Drama as a separate subject tends to have disappeared from the timetable of most schools by the fourth year and to reappear as an option on one afternoon a week in subsequent years. But it is by the fourth year that the educational nature of drama begins to change. Young people are ready to study dramatic literature and the theatre arts and they should have opportunity to do so. Ideally perhaps the practical and critical study of a play should go hand in hand, but in schools that are limited in space and dominated by examinations, there have to be compromises. The literary aspects of drama therefore tend to be studied in the classroom and the practical side on the stage or in the studio, wardrobe, and workshops. In schools that do not offer an opportunity for optional study of drama in the upper school there is usually a drama club. In the chapter on youth we shall draw attention to the growing practice among young people of joining youth drama centres where they may pursue their particular interest in the subject.

When drama is timetabled in the upper school the work is so varied that a general comment is difficult. In syllabuses of liberal and general studies, drama often finds a place, Sometimes the emphasis is on dramatic literature, and particularly the contemporary drama, sometimes some practical work is done. Much depends upon the resources available. A technical school in the south-east offered drama as an option to its sixth form and this resulted in an outburst of activity culminating in a production of Hamlet that cut across all subject frontiers. The study of Othello in a sixth form in the north, led to discussions on the loss of a treasured possession. These resulted in the composition of a play

[page 25]

for children which the group acted with great success at the end of the Christmas term to a neighbouring infant school.

One of the problems facing school drama is that the present emphasis on improvisation is leading to an impoverishment of the literary side of drama and a disregard for dramatic literature. Yet there must be two objectives to any policy for drama in a school. One is to provide opportunities for the personal development of the young people; the other is to direct them towards an appreciation of drama and the theatre arts. These two objectives are not exclusive. The one in fact should lead towards the other. No one would suggest that the study of Shakespeare or the production of his plays should replace improvisation; but many people would agree that it is the growing understanding of the place of movement and speech in drama, an awareness of the use of space, and an over-all appreciation of drama as a major artistic form gained from work in improvised drama that will lead to a real understanding of the plays of Shakespeare. Some people talk as if theatrical illusion has something in common with the work of a magician and sleight of hand and that to know something of theatrical art and what happens 'behind the scenes' is to destroy the illusion. This point of view is not substantiated by the opinion of teachers. To introduce young people to a lasting appreciation of the arts it is not enough to expose them to masterpieces: we must help them to understand the manner in which drama provides a significant expression of the human situation and relate it to their own needs.

Teachers, therefore, consider it their responsibility to help young people to appreciate fully the arts as a form of expression and enjoyment. But there is more to it than this. Many young people going to universities and colleges of education with the purpose of becoming teachers will be required to pass on their understanding and enjoyment of the arts to their pupils. Some will go on to practise the arts, either as amateurs or professionals. But as audience, teachers, or artists, their life will be the richer for the extent of their understanding.

Some teachers are taking seriously the warning of certain psychologists that since increasingly fewer workers are likely to derive any satisfaction from their jobs, responsibility for providing creative opportunities in leisure is pressing. A preliminary experience of the arts in school will be vitally necessary.

Drama related to other subjects

The literary impoverishment of drama does not exist, of course, when drama is used as a means of teaching the more academic subjects. In some schools it plays a big part in language teaching although the linguistic quality naturally enough predominates over the dramatic. At a school in an eastern county a project on war and peace had invaded most of the work in English and history

[page 26]

in the third and fourth years and classrooms were stuffed with relics of Agincourt and gleaming new ploughshares. At a Church of England school in the north-west, religious education was being taken through a series of improvised scenes illustrating the sayings and parables of Jesus; and on several occasions we have seen teachers using drama in the service of religion, ethics, and morality through its suitability for posing problems in human relationships. Of the many short plays that we have seen at assemblies perhaps the most moving and certainly the most original was at a country school in the south-east where most of the children in the school joined in a celebration of Christ the Light of the World with a rare mixture of movement and ritual, improvised and scriptural language, and music composed and played by themselves. The freshness and simplicity of the whole thing prevented the many elements simply becoming a jumble.

A grammar school in the Midlands was using a large amount of speech, and where possible drama, throughout the curriculum. There were plays in the French and Latin lessons. The history teacher was investigating the effects of industrial revolution on different groups of people by inviting the young people to impersonate workers, factory owners, and the public. Small groups of boys were scattered throughout the school improvising scenes from Henry IV. This is nevertheless a hazardous form of teaching. The line between playing about and making the other pupils laugh, and coming closely to grips with a subject, is a fine one. But there is no doubt that at its best the method creates an exuberance, openness, and directness between the young people and their staff. In the school in question, the headmaster harboured no doubt of the extent to which regular use of the spoken language had advanced the capacity of his boys to think.

In discussing the place of drama in school and its relationship to other subjects we must refer to what we said about the inter-relationship between the arts in primary schools. Many teachers are aware that there is a kind of independence between the arts, and that facility in the use of one may help a young person to express himself in another. We noted continually in the course of the survey that these relationships can arise in many different ways, drama stimulating language, language stimulating song, song stimulating dance, and any of them stimulating a visual image in many different permutations. But in spite of a growing emphasis on team teaching and the grouping of subjects, teachers find these relationships difficult to establish. They express themselves as being inhibited by constant emphasis on specialisation. The challenge of the future, in this particular field, is likely to consist in finding a balance in the training of secondary school teachers between the essential expertise in the practice of a certain subject and the ability to discuss or even practise that subject in relation to, or in the context of, another art. Teachers of other subjects may be able to

[page 27]

work alone: the teacher of drama, or the teacher who uses drama, cannot avoid an involvement with all the other subjects of which drama is compounded, and the fact that this provides a valuable educational experience, is an additional piece of good fortune.

Some difficulties

The outcome of school drama, in the view of many people, is a kind of self-revelation. Drama teachers, like other teachers involved in the arts, feel they have achieved a certain success when the pupil has expressed something in one form or another of real individuality. But if one is trying to stimulate self-expression, one has to take what comes, and sometimes what comes is violent and destructive. Many teachers are worried about this. They ask whether plays of violence are allowing children to act out their aggressive instincts or whether the act of violence in a permissive atmosphere implies that this is a valid way of settling disputes.

Until we have more definite knowledge, the safeguard lies perhaps in the fact that a great deal of the simulated aggression of the drama class takes place in a creative context. Whether it is a wolf attacking the shepherds outside Bethlehem, or the three charges of the Normans against the Saxons at Pevensey, or the duels of Beowulf and Grendel, or the tribal conflict to choose a new leader, or the latest version of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, mods and rockers, or spacemen and Martians, the fight can be controlled if the artistic purpose is clear. It has been most interesting to see how skilful teachers have in certain cases diverted the aggressive instinct to the creative one of selecting the weapons and using them properly. Yet it is not a matter of teachers controlling pupils but of giving them resources to control themselves.

A headmistress in the north was anxious to challenge the claim that drama helps to free children of inhibitions and to press for research into the psychological aspects of these claims. Drama in this school is in the hands of two extremely capable teachers. But she feels that the children had become subservient to the drama, that their needs took second place to the needs of performance. She described this as a case of the tail wagging the dog. Other heads have expressed similar anxieties when the success of drama has created its own difficulties.

On the whole we have found that support for drama among heads has balanced anxiety, scepticism, and opposition. It can be socially redemptive but a disrupting influence; it can offer unique areas of experience yet it can close its doors upon itself; its relationship of the physical, the imaginative, and the intellectual can be of the greatest value; but it can be emotionally self-indulgent. Perhaps most striking of all was the almost complete agreement

[page 28]

among those heads in whose school drama was taking place, on the beneficial effect it had on the behaviour of the children. 'We have no disciplinary problems in this school,' was a constant claim, 'and we attribute this to drama.'

[page 29]

3 Aspects of school drama


Movement is a natural form of expression. We express something of ourselves in every movement we make. An infant who has not learnt to speak and can only utter sounds expresses himself in movement. At first his sound-language, like his movements, are involuntary; but as he begins to learn the communicative value of certain combinations of sounds, so he learns the expressive value of certain movements. When he comes to school, teachers help him to develop this natural propensity for expressive movement by giving him what might be called 'resources in movement'. It is a phrase that we shall use constantly since it embodies an important concept. Resources in movement involve an awareness of the body and how it works, its potentialities and capabilities, the limbs and joints that make up the body and how they function, and what they will do. In recent years many teachers have been helped to acquire a deeper understanding of movement through studying the work of Rudolf Laban but like so many basic principles those of Laban must be properly understood if they are to be successfully used with children and young people. They play a large part in work to be found in schools throughout the country, and although many teachers put their own interpretation on them, and use them in their own way, they have been a major influence in education in recent years.

Movement is the essence of physical education. We are moving whether we are climbing a rope, playing games, leaping a vaulting horse, dancing a pavane, or acting a play. Some movements can have limited functional objectives. Others, such as the movements required in competitive athletics, involve a high degree of skill and mental concentration. Certain games need inventiveness and imagination. Dancing requires feeling, creativity, and considerable physical control. Most movements therefore require some particular mental attitude according to their nature and purpose. Some students in a drama school were quite explicit about the different degrees of mental involvement needed by exercises of the Laban and the Martha Graham schools. This involvement is an aspect of movement that should be of great interest to anyone concerned with its expressive qualities.

Movement is a basic part of acting. An actor does not need the physical resources of an acrobat or a dancer but he needs, nonetheless, to repeat the words, the control, versatility, and sensitivity that will enable him to give a

[page 30]

different body to Hamlet and Falstaff. Children do not need the physical resources of a professional actor or athlete, but they need wide experience in movement partly for their physical development and partly for the enrichment of their expressive potentialities.

We can respect the anxiety of certain teachers of physical education to keep different elements of their programme clearly separated. There can be nothing but confusion if children are encouraged, as in one school we visited, to bring an expressive quality into their gymnastics. But it is only as a result of experiencing differing kinds of movement that children and young people can recognise them and it is only by recognising them that they can use them appropriately. In this chapter we are concerned with movement as a form of expression.

Let us think of dance and drama in their simplest forms as we have seen them in infant schools. An infant may break into a dance from so simple a movement as seeing what his toes and heels and feet will do in response to a piece of music. But his dancing is likely to be the more expressive if he has already become aware of his toes and his heels and his feet, if he has acquired certain resources of movement, and an awareness of his body as a result of work with his teacher. And possibly in another corner of the room another infant, mounted on a packing case, is driving a team of horses across the western desert. His involvement is likely to be deeper, his imaginative material more varied, if he has been told by his teacher something about the wild west, or discussed westerns he has seen on television, if he has had plenty of opportunities to play, to make wagons out of packing cases and to talk about these things with his teacher.

Piaget has argued that young children learn through a process of sensory-motor perception. They learn to reconstruct as a result of direct experience. Many teachers believe that drama offers opportunities for a continuing process of sensory-motor exploration on many different levels throughout our life. However much our growing powers of intelligence and imagination enable us to extend our field of awareness beyond that of direct perception, it is possible that concepts of time and space can only be acquired by young children through the direct experience of movement and drama.

The theory may be questioned. This is only to report what is being argued. But the evidence of a school where the children are given opportunities for a wide variety of movement leaves little room to doubt the physical vitality and imaginative vigour that can be released. The children are given such resources in movement that by their fourth year they can readily express a very wide range of ideas and feelings in movement, dance, and drama. On a recent visit we found them investigating the relationship between various kinds of

[page 31]

movements and the sounds that go with them. This they developed in speech, weaving words round parts of the body as the infants weaved patterns on the floor with their toes. The remarkable quality of these children can best be summed up in the words of a visitor who wrote:

The children's almost incredible inventiveness and skill in expression, both in movement and speech, were perhaps attributable to the care with which a gifted teacher had developed their resources. By the time the children had reached the top class they all had considerable personal ability and an astonishing sensibility towards each other within the group, as well as a very mature sense of dramatic form. They appeared to enjoy a higher level of living throughout the lesson.
Many teachers say that movement is an aid to concentration. Movement is indeed so basic a form of expression that some children may well find it easier to become involved in a movement than in a process of thought, although as they grow older this may not always be the case. Another claim is that movement helps thought. Perhaps this is to say that kinaesthetic experience cannot be divorced from the mental process of forming images which are a part of the process of thought. Yet we must beware of confusing the warming-up, livening-up, and limbering-up that get the blood flowing and the limbs free with the contribution that movement might make to the process of conceptual thinking.

This is an area in which many teachers are intensely interested and one which seems to merit further investigation. Ezra Pound has written:

... music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from dance; that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music; but this must not be taken as implying that all good music is dance music or all poetry lyric. Bach and Mozart are never too far from physical movement.
This attitude is not, on the whole, accepted by musicians or poets; but it suggests the kind of relationships between the arts which many teachers are exploring. One thinks of a school where the pupils are training to be dancers. The painting has outstanding kinaesthetic qualities and the art teacher has no doubt that this is the result of their dancing.

Another example of movement serving an important educational purpose was provided by a teacher with a class of students who were being trained to teach mentally-handicapped children in a course organised by the Ministry of Health. The question 'Who am I?' is of even greater significance for the handicapped than for normal children and this teacher believes that spiritual identity can be discovered partially by physical means. The work of the students, as they in turn worked afterwards with the children, involved a great variety of experience in movement but had a continual element of physical

[page 32]

contact. The knowing of a partner led to a knowing of the group and thence to a kind of self-knowing. Nothing could have clarified quite so clearly as these classes the depth of relationship that can be established between teacher and children when physical and psychological contact are seen as part of the same process. A film describing the work of this teacher is significantly called 'In touch'.

Many teachers find dance a difficult form. It is strongly expressive of feeling but intellectually it makes a rather generalised statement. Children need resources in movement if they are to express themselves clearly in dance. Teachers are therefore inclined to use dramatic rather than lyric kinds of movement since in drama the image is more literal than in dance and personal resources less demanding. But many find music a help. It masks uncertainty. Some teachers believe that it stimulates children and this is clearly true of music with a strong and consistent beat. Thus a form of dance-drama has developed throughout the country. It is not dance since it is rarely lyric or choreographic. It is not drama since the accompanying music is usually rather loudly played and prevents the development of speech. But in the hands of a skilful teacher it is an interesting form with its own identity.

Unfortunately the tripartite marriage of music, movement and drama is not often successfully achieved. In order to provide the children with the greatest possible musical stimulation teachers tend to choose such powerfully evocative pieces as Mars from The Planets suite, the adagio from Beethoven's seventh symphony, the Rite of Spring, Night on the Bare Mountain and the Sorcerers Apprentice. Music of this kind cannot provide an altogether successful background to mimed versions of the Crucifixion, the end of the world, a fight between monsters in outer space, or the climbing of Everest. Sometimes teachers begin the class by asking the children to do what the music tells them. When the children have resources in movement and an ear for music they usually dance. But when they have neither, their work tends to be self-indulgent and inexpressive. One head accurately described this work as 'reeling and writhing'.

The fact that a good deal of the work that goes for dance-drama is not outstandingly successful must not detract from the outstanding examples of work in this form that have been seen. At a school in the north-east a great deal of dance-drama is done. It emerges as an effective medium when the components of dance and music, drama and speech are separated and pieced together sensitively and deliberately. Recent subjects to be tackled have included Guy Fawkes, American slavery, the building of Coventry cathedral - part of a larger theme of birth and resurrection, and the story of Theseus. The latter, which was partially derived from The King Must Die, contained a bullfight in which the cartwheels and somersaults of the dancers provided an

[page 33]

excellent example of the use of gymnastic skills in a dramatic setting. Dance-drama plays a large part in the work of a school in the south, though the themes tend to be taken excessively from romantic and mythological sources and the children are not given the resources in movement to avoid repetitiveness of expression.

Schemes of work provide a clue to the limitations of much of the work in movement. The word 'free' is often introduced before the word 'movement'. What is 'free movement'? Presumably it is individual; it is not shaped in any way except perhaps by the person who is moving; it is not stylised as in ballet. It contains an important concept - that everyone should be given opportunities to move in their own way; that every child should be given resources to use in his own way. But we seem to go wrong perhaps in suggesting that the discipline of expression which is necessary for the purposes of communication in dance is necessarily a limitation upon freedom. Dance or movement that is excessively individual can become self-indulgent and vague in expression. It was Martha Graham who pointed out that real physical freedom is the outcome of ten years' intensely disciplined work on the body.

We did not attempt to include dance in our survey but a certain amount of dance was seen in primary and secondary schools when it was taken by teachers who worked both in dance and drama. The clarity of much of the dance was a refreshing contrast to the uncertainty of much of the dance-drama and some of the improvisation. This was as true of infants as of young people in the higher forms of secondary schools. It was refreshing in a school in the south-west to find a class in dance that began with the young people sitting on the floor and listening to the music. Having discussed the phrasing of the music they worked to achieve similar phrases in their movements. One was reminded of the comment of an English ballerina who said, 'English dancers enter on a jetée; Russian dancers on the cellos'.

Wherever the dancing was clear and expressive it was the result of the children or young people having been given ample resources, opportunities to invent for themselves, and encouragement to listen to the music. The result was seen in a deeply moving Nativity, danced by girls at a school in the north Midlands; in the general work in dance at a school in the north-west where a young teacher constantly questioned the girls about what they were trying to show or express, how they were using the space at their disposal, how the various limbs were co-ordinated to achieve the particular movement that was being sought. An unforgettable experience was provided by girls in a small school also in the north-west. From a whole afternoon of interesting work, some of which tended more towards drama than dance, two dances in particular must be mentioned. The first was done by a class of second year girls. In the first section of the music (a suite by Jarnefelt) the girls gathered armfuls of flowers

[page 34]

which had been strewn over the floor. They then moved on to a stage and presented them ritualistically at an altar. The third part was a dance of joy - and it was hard to imagine that the spirit of gaiety and happiness could be more richly expressed by a human being. (It was a wet, cold winter's day and the school and its dismal surroundings were obscured in fog and drizzle.)

The other dance was given by fourth year girls. They danced the whole of the Prince Igor dances - a matter of about twenty-five minutes - to choreography which was the outcome of close collaboration between them and their teacher. The lyrical freshness, the variety of floor pattern, the sustained tension, and the deep involvement of the girls were quite astonishing.

Two days previously, by a curious chance, another teacher had been seen using the Prince Igor music but for a dance-drama. Her work on the whole was impressive; but she revealed her limitations in the field of music when she was unable to help the girls in a passage of syncopated rhythms to which they wanted to dance and where the former class had been particularly successful.

All these teachers were anxious to discuss the relationships between dance and drama. They all tended to agree that there were times when a dramatic quality was helpful to them in their teaching. The image is more exact. The situation more precise. Boys are more responsive when the necessary quality of movement is dramatic rather than lyric - though it must be recorded that boys were seen dancing far less often than girls. The masculinity of the Russian dancers has not yet broken the English prejudice against male dancers. Yet the work that was seen once more confirmed the obvious fact that dancing is anything but a soft option and that far from it being a matter of all body and no head, a very high degree of intelligence and mental concentration is needed.

Yet when we look back on all the movement that we have seen we are impressed by the immense variety of forms it takes, both functional and expressive, and the importance of its far-reaching influence on the growth and development of the individual.


First, a note about terminology. Reference to the schemes of work and the syllabuses given later will show that the word 'mime' is often used in association with, or as an alternative to, improvisation. It is often used to describe acting without words. A teacher will say that the children are going to do something 'in mime'. Historically the word means a kind of traditional vocabulary of expressive movement, a form that might be thought to have little relevance to contemporary needs until a skilful teacher of mime is seen with a class of young people. The word is also used, more by the French than the English, to describe a kind of acting, speechless but physically expressive, that has been developed by Debureau, Marcel Marceau, Jacques Lecoq and Jean

[page 35]

Louis Barrault (of whose work as a mime there is an excellent example in the film Les Enfants du Paradis).

Improvisation has assumed a significant role in the curriculum of both primary and secondary schools only in recent years. It has been partially an outcome of recent educational thinking which has made distinctions between teaching and learning. The distinctive creativity of children is now respected and there are few schools in which one or more of the arts do not have a place on the timetable. When they do not appear it is more likely to be through lack of a qualified teacher than lack of interest on the part of the head.

The lines on which educational drama has been developing seem to owe a good deal in their origin to the work of the Russian producer Constantin Stanislavsky. Though an outstanding teacher, he was a man of the theatre, not an educationist. He devoted a large part of his life to working out the principles of the art of acting and methods of training. Since he was preoccupied with the nature of creativity and problems of finding ways of expressing artistic truth, his work has much that is relevant to any kind of active drama, no matter how widely the word is interpreted. The incompleteness of his books, and doubts about the accuracy of some of the translation, have no doubt given rise to misunderstandings. Superficial aspects of his teaching have become common currency and its aim, to discover the process of artistic creation as it applies to acting, is being disregarded. Improvisation as a method both in education and on the stage has its enthusiasts and its detractors. It will be calamitous if people increasingly take sides over an issue that is not always wholly understood. We need to reconsider the whole question of improvisation in its relationship to children, the training of teachers, and the professional theatre. This requires close reading, careful practical work, thorough and honest discussion.

Improvisation, however, whatever its provenance, does provide opportunities for the exploration of areas of experience and sensibility, in a sensory-motor fashion, for which there can be no other provision on the syllabus. We are trying to avoid referring to drama as a subject since many teachers assert that it is not a subject but a way of teaching many subjects. This 'way' or method might be described as one that involves the creation of a situation in which the child is actively involved. He will learn arithmetic by playing at shops. He will extend his understanding of foreign languages by acting short scenes in those languages. Episodes from history and the nature of different geographical environments can be made vivid to children when they identify themselves with the English archers at the battle of Crecy or try to build an igloo out of blocks of snow. In a later section of this report an attempt will be made to assess what most people seem to mean by educational drama and to define its nature. It will be seen that many teachers are concerned with its contribution

[page 36]

to problems of personal identity, relationships between people, the expression of emotion, and the exploration of environment. These are exceedingly worthy objectives but they are harder to attain than teachers sometimes realise and much of the work in improvisation that was seen during this survey fell short of what is claimed for it. In few schools did there seem to be a coherent scheme of development over one, two, three or four years. Indeed it was claimed in some schools that a syllabus for drama was inappropriate since drama must continually respond to the varying needs of the children - a dangerous attitude which accounts perhaps for the purposelessness of some of the work that was seen. We have spent many hours in schools watching young people throw stones into rivers, walk on hot beaches, creep through haunted houses, fight against icy winds, linger at bus stops, and slide along the bottom of the sea. We have seen scores of mad scientists, writhing witches, monsters from outer space, spacemen, astronauts, Indians, Polyphemoi, and intrepid explorers. Many of these exercises were far from being poor in themselves; but one missed, to repeat the point, a concept of steady development. It was difficult to perceive the area of experience the children were being required to investigate. Much of this work was play, and none the worse for that. Much was pure fantasy. But of imaginative penetration, the feeling that the children were exploring for the very first time, with all their faculties alert, some area of human experience they had never known before, there was very little evidence indeed.

Many of the lessons seen consisted of work suggested and imposed by the teacher. 'I want you to do this ... I want you to do that ...' were the most frequent words we heard. And being fundamentally obedient creatures the pupils did what was required of them and received their measure of praise. One longed for them occasionally to ask, why?

This inability to organise lessons so that within a given framework the children can make their own contribution - and they are rarely short of ideas - is unfortunate, not only because it inhibits the young people, but because it leads to the exhaustion of the teachers. The average timetable provides drama teachers with about twenty periods of drama a week. For each of these 35 minute periods many take it upon themselves to think up a sequence of exercises, though it turns out more often to be a hotch-potch than a sequence. Many confessed to being completely exhausted and sterile of ideas. And this sense of strain has an unfortunate effect on other English teachers who feel, understandably enough, that they could never keep up such a flow of ideas. 'I'm not nearly imaginative enough to take drama', it is often said.

No teaching is easy, drama least of all, perhaps, but it should never involve such intense occupational strain as many of the teachers we saw seemed to experience. Yet the answer, easy enough to write and extremely difficult to put into practice, is clear. The teacher must organise lessons so that the ideas

[page 37]

come from the children. He is likely to be the better teacher. Of course he needs skill to do this and he will benefit from experience; but no drama teacher should look on himself as an inexhaustible conceiver of ideas and situations. His task is, in part, to establish an area of activity within which children can work, express, explore, invent. Once ideas are genuinely flowing, they will be self-generating. We need, as a teacher said, 'more dancing and less marching'. At the end of a day's work a teacher may be intensely tired, like the actor who has played King Lear; but if he is utterly exhausted he should look for the fault, perhaps, in himself.

Drama has become associated, properly in many ways, with movement. Therefore it is usually taken in the hall. But teachers often find that it is not easy to control thirty or forty high-spirited young people in a large space. They are naturally concerned to 'keep order'. So they tell the children what to do. They impose the image. Even teachers who work sensitively and imaginatively in the classroom tend to become formal and autocratic in the hall. This happens as often in primary as in secondary schools. This is not of course to say that drama should not be taken in the hall but that with boys and girls not used to drama or expressive movement, the use of the hall is not necessarily as helpful as is sometimes thought. We have seen pupils, working well in the classroom, lose all self-control when they have moved into the hall.

Movement of course needs space and a good deal of work in movement is properly concerned with large groups. Some drama needs less space and less drama needs large groups. It is the problem of engaging a large class in a single imaginative activity that accounts for the many street markets we have seen, the circuses, the bus queues, and the beaches. But the limitations of this kind of scene are quickly apparent and the real problem of the drama teacher comes in finding ways of enabling children to work individually, or in small groups, with real concentration, in a large space. There is a tendency for the halls in new secondary schools, designed with an eye for drama, to be too big. But the opportunities for drama provided by the open planning of new primary schools, to be described at the end of this chapter, seem likely to provide spaces bigger than are to be found in most conventional classrooms but without the intimidating space of a large hall.

The problems of improvisation are daunting until the teacher has worked out the area of experience he is going to help his pupils to explore. He may like to begin by developing some of Laban's principles of movement. We have seen most interesting experiments made by teachers who have been trying to relate Laban's 'efforts' of movement to efforts of speech and characterisation. Another teacher may feel more secure in basing his work on some of the exercises that Stanislavsky has described though we must repeat that the

[page 38]

Russian master was writing for professional actors and his examples must be adapted to the needs of pupils in schools.

Other teachers are stimulated by the range of themes that can be tackled. Space travel is an obvious favourite though it has been surprising to find how seldom young people have been able to discover any real quality in their depiction of the many dramatic elements that are contained. Subjects that have given rise to interesting treatment include a railway disaster, Beowulf, the slaughter of the innocents, the fire of London, the voyages of Odysseus - 'they'll lure us and we don't want to go unless we die' (sic), said the Cockney hero struggling to find words appropriate to the threat of the Sirens, 'so you must tie me to the mast'; and an astonishing commentary on the Nativity that included scenes of Swiftian savagery on the Berlin wall, the war in Vietnam, and the commercialisation of Christmas.

Some teachers make a distinction between improvisation and improvised play-making. The latter has led to some of the most interesting work that we have seen. Close questioning of the pupils by the teacher has led to deep involvement or sense of relevance so that a new dimension has been added to apparently threadbare themes. 'All right, so you're on a desert island,' says a teacher in the north, 'how did you get there? Who are you? Are you alone or with anyone?' This teacher and her students from an institute have conducted projects lasting a whole week in which the boys and girls in the school have investigated with great profundity such subjects as birth, marriage, death, in all their personal, social, anthropological, and artistic aspects.

Some teachers begin from the spoken word, or at least ensure that speech is used whenever there is occasion for it. Some young people in a Midlands school were working on the Antigone story. At a certain moment in the action they paused to discuss what Oedipus might have done on his accession to the throne to sweep away the injustices of Kreon and create a new society. When the guard found the floor of the hall strewn with corpses he cried out 'What are you all lying there not being unburied for?' Another class was working on the story of Jason and Medea. The townspeople were in the market-place when they discovered that their prince had married a sorceress. 'Cut out her tongue and her tonsils!' cried a boy. 'Your language is coarse enough for the common market' another replied. A class of sixth formers in the same school had developed a hair-raising story on the subject of moral responsibility resulting from the consequences of a game of 'chicken'.

There was a moment of imaginative penetration in a school in the north when Eve bit the apple and an enormous clamour arose from all the animals and birds in the Garden of Eden. There were some moving lines of dialogue during the enactment of a crucifixion scene in the north-east.

[page 39]

One of the soldiers nailing Jesus to a (mimed) cross:

'What soft feet he's got.'

Another soldier: 'Yes, like a dancer's'.

Another: 'Well, let him dance his way out of this one'.

Another rewarding experience is when the class gets so caught up in a situation that they carry the action forward among themselves without any need for stimulation from, or intervention by, the teacher. This is an assurance of a high degree of involvement by the pupils.

At the same time we must recognise that improvisation does not answer all the linguistic problems of children or adolescents. To paraphrase a scene from Shakespeare may be a valuable exercise for more gifted children and lead to a greater respect for Shakespeare's use of words. (It was interesting to meet a girl who in studying Antony and Cleopatra for her A level examination resented the invitation to paraphrase a certain passage on the grounds of the inevitable debasement of language.) But to ask children to improvise a scene beyond their full imaginative comprehension or linguistic resources is to encourage the verbal cliché. The inappropriate use of language can be both funny and charming. We have hesitatingly given examples of both. Drama is not an alternative to other methods a teacher can use to develop a richer use of language in a child: it is one of many methods and one that is liable to its own form of vulgarisation. Words are only a part of drama and cannot therefore be so highly charged as in other forms, such as poetry, where nothing comes between the words and the listener or the reader.

Yet a teacher is always tempted to help children improve what they have done. 'Now 3B, let's do it again but better'. Do the pupils know what is meant by 'better'? Do they know what is meant by 'more interesting'? another term that is often used in the cause of improvement. These abstractions do not really have much validity in terms of art since they imply certain absolute values which are not relevant in terms of artistic creation. Certain pupils may know what a certain teacher means by these terms as we all come to know the private' language of our friends; but the general principle of knowing how to help young people to develop, extend, or enrich their work remains a difficult one, and throws us back on the need to develop their resources.

The sum of all their work is important all the time. Their success in improvised drama must depend upon their resources in movement, in language, in their ability to think, to use their imaginations, and to invent in dramatic terms. None of these things happen in a moment. They are each the outcome of the whole life of the school. It is not only the English teacher who will benefit from encouragement to talk, to express ideas in words, to read widely. It is not only

[page 40]

the music teacher who will benefit from the children's sensibility to sound and music. We must all be ready to cast our bread upon the waters. Children return it a hundredfold in the most unexpected ways.

It has been constantly apparent that the success of an improvisation depends upon the young people's interest in the subject. This is where the skill of the teacher comes in. Shakespeare, far from being, as is often suggested, a bore, seems to be a constant source of stimulation and interest. We have seen many scenes that Shakespeare did not write. The version of Macbeth that was described in the previous chapter included the actual murder of Duncan with a kind of Et tu, Brute, confrontation of the murderer and the dying king. Another school made a splendid show of the crowning of Macbeth, and some first year girls made a play out of the events in Milan, culminating in the banishment of Prospero, that form the background to The Tempest. One school had made Twelfth Night their own, too much their own perhaps. 'Why do you go around boozing all day?' said a charming Viola to an even prettier Sir Toby Belch, 'why don't you go and get yourself a decent meal at the Chinese restaurant?' They had made Shakespeare theirs. This is surely a step towards making themselves Shakespeare's.

This is indeed the very crux of the problem: is improvisation a form of dramatic expression in its own right or is it a kind of protracted preliminary to the acting of plays? The answer is surely that it is neither. Teachers will use improvisation at a level appropriate to the children to help them to express themselves in dramatic form and in so doing to reveal a kind of inner life which on the whole we tend to suppress. The practice of improvisation, especially when older boys and girls handle wider themes, express deeper feelings, and shape their work into more coherent forms, will inevitably lead to an understanding of certain aspects of dramatic and theatrical art. There will come a time when, by natural progression in the subject, young people will be ready and anxious to examine the work of the masters; and they will also find, as some professional actors do, that certain aspects of a play, a scene, a character, can best be discovered by some kind of improvisation. Thus we have one kind of creativity which is the actor's, and another which is the dramatist's, and boys and girls at school are trying their hands at both. They are constructing the essential bridge that leads from the simplest and most modest moment of dramatic creativity to the acting of King Lear. It is not an easy bridge to build, or to keep in repair, but it is essential for anyone who wishes to move freely in the complex terrain of dramatic art.

Masks are not often being used in schools and this is as it should be. Though it is a profitable exercise in craft to make them, the wearing of masks, an important element in the training of professional actors, can have so profoundly

[page 41]

transforming an effect on a young person that they should be used only by experienced teachers.

At this point it might be helpful to sum up the work and the ideas that have been briefly described.

There is a developing pattern of drama from the mimetic play of children in nursery and infant schools through the dramatisation of stories from literature and the children's own imagination to improvised drama in the secondary school which is, on the whole, identifiable as drama. But it is argued with a good deal of justification that children and young people must be helped to cultivate their own abilities as well as to become familiar with the various expressive arts. They must have opportunity, that is, to speak, to improvise, and to move in a variety of ways. But work in improvisation and movement, unexceptionable in intention, is tending to get a little out of control, and some work that is claimed to be drama is in danger, through the looseness of the concepts underlying it, of not providing any very acceptable educational experience for the pupils. Drama, like the other arts, is concerned with creating symbolic forms for the expression of emotions as well as of ideas, but this must not be to deny a crucial role for the intelligence in the whole process of selection, formulation, and expression.

Many teachers have noted the beneficial results of drama on the whole emotional, imaginative, and intellectual development of the children and made considerable claims, again with some justification, for the basic nature of the contribution of drama to their education. But this is to argue post hoc propter hoc. It seems to be necessary that all those engaged in educational drama should once again ask themselves whether their work would stand up to the close investigation of a sceptic, and whether they see clearly the relationships between expression, or creation, in dramatic form, and expression in dance, music, literature, and the visual arts, that is, where their work with the children fits into the broad spectrum of artistic activity.


Music, of course, is a fundamental part of our language and experience. Plato's assertion that harmony of living is determined by an aesthetic feeling, by the recognition of rhythm and harmony, is rarely disputed even if it is largely ignored. Yet it is surely perverse to argue, as people do, that language is an organisation of sound and movement, an organisation of space, and yet not to accept the basic role of both in a child's aesthetic education.

Music has always been an integral part of every young child's experience, beginning with his earliest rhymes, songs, games, and dances. In recent years it has been more consciously linked with movement and mime in infant and junior schools, but the results have not always been productive or progressive.

[page 42]

Too often the children have lacked resources in movement and an understanding of the body to be able to express themselves adequately. Not all of them respond or react to music in the same way. For some it may be more of a hindrance than a stimulus to movement; to others it may be an emotional self-indulgence resulting in vague and sentimental cavorting that was described by one head as 'reeling and writhing'. Movement to music may be metrical, as in dancing to a traditional tune, or it may follow the structure of the music, its phrasing, climaxes, cadences, and so on: either can give scope for individual interpretation if the children are led to this. But whatever is attempted, too much must not be expected too soon. Young children may find it easier to use percussion instruments as an accompaniment to movement rather than the complex texture of sounds from a gramophone, or amateurish improvisations on a piano. Any music used for movement must, however, be simple; it must have genuine quality and, if mechanically reproduced, should delight and educate, not offend the ear.

The whole business of moving and miming to music needs clear thinking and constant evaluation, especially in relation to drama with which it may have much or no connection at all, according to the clarity or otherwise of the purpose and intention. The prevalence of tape-recorders and record-players has been of dubious advantage to drama, and even if the widespread use of such pieces of colourful orchestral music as The Planets suite, Sacré de Printemps, L'Après midi d'un faune, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Ritual Fire Dance and many others give a dramatic stimulation to the work, they cannot be thought of as producing a musical experience since the young people are not listening to the music but pretending to be at the bottom of the sea or treading the surface of the moon or fighting their way to the top of Mount Everest. When girls respond, as in one school, to Brahms' Paganini variations by strutting round the hall 'like policemen' one cannot feel the experience has been successful musically or dramatically.

In recent years children have been encouraged to explore the raw materials of sound, and to improvise and create music of their own, using their own voices and a multiplicity of pitch percussion instruments. One outstanding example of this was seen in a remarkable performance given by first year pupils in a secondary school in the south of England. A considerable amount of vocal sounds and effects, of choral speaking of various kinds, of singing and of instrumental accompaniment to singing, to dancing, and to the action in general was used, and every note had been composed, and was played by the young people with the help of a teacher who had used a tape-recorder to record their contributions.

This reciprocity between movement and music is so intimate and obvious a thing that it was surprising to find so few other examples of creative music

[page 43]

related to movement or drama, either as part of a play to create atmosphere, or as a rhythm to dance to. Primary school teachers in some parts of the country are being helped in the use of percussion, gong and bells, and we found many examples of children being asked to make appropriate movements to various kinds of sounds, but these were far more often gramophone records of electronic music than sounds made by the children themselves.

Speech and music are so closely interwoven that infants will pass naturally from one to the other as they go about their work and play in and out of school. Musical rhythm shares a common language with speech and movement; there are lighter and heavier sounds, longer and shorter sounds; phrasing, inflection, cadence, accent are part of a large vocabulary common to speech, music and movement. These idioms may be expressed in speaking, singing, playing, and moving either individually or in groups. They can be conjoined in the simplest song or game, or fused in the creation of an enacted scene suited to the age and development of the children, as in the series commissioned from poets and musicians by the BBC. Some children will create their own ballad operas, a fitting combination of speech, songs, movement and drama, of a quality often surpassing that of operettas specially devised for schools.

As with drama, so it is with music. It is of fundamental importance in schools, primary and secondary, for its own sake and for what it can bring to a child. But how much talent runs to waste in schools where the young people are not given the least opportunity for creative musical experiences!


During the nineteen-thirties speech in schools was identified with less desirable aspects of elocution. After the war, when drama began to play an increasing part in education, speech was largely ignored except by small numbers of teachers who had specialist qualifications or some particular interest in the subject. In recent years the importance of speech has been recognised and after years of neglect a growing amount of attention is being given to it. The Plowden report discusses the importance of speech. 'Spoken language plays a central part in learning', it says in the section on Language, and 'The psychological trauma of placing a child without adequate powers of communication in a new social situation can be serious.' Among the first of the many references to speech in the Newsom report is this: 'The evidence of research increasingly suggests that linguistic inadequacy, disadvantages in social and physical background, and poor attainments in school, are closely associated. Because the forms of speech which are all they ever require for daily use in their homes and the neighbourhoods in which they live are restricted, some boys and girls may never acquire the basic means of learning and their intellectual potential is therefore masked.'

[page 44]

Such views are widely supported by teachers. But their constant question is 'What can we do about it?' and this is not easy to answer.

The Plowden report in its paragraphs on speech discusses the importance of giving children many opportunities to talk 'between teacher and children and individuals, in groups and occasionally with the whole class drawn in.' Most teachers in primary schools are inclined to say that this is already done; and yet it is our impression that it is done a little half-heartedly. There is an important distinction between the kind of chatter that is to be found in most primary classrooms and conversation between a teacher and a child or a group of children in which they are all encouraged and helped to contribute to the subject that is under discussion. Teachers sometimes need to be given confidence that time spent in conversation is not time wasted. Some educationists in fact argue that teachers cannot afford the time not to have plenty of good conversation; and that without it good relationship between teacher and children cannot be created and good work in almost every subject is liable to be hampered.

Thus the first task of a teacher seems to be to help children to use speech for the articulation of their ideas. The second task is to help children to use speech for social purposes. This was well expressed by a teacher in the north-east. 'Our aim must surely be,' he says, 'to help children acquire an elaborate code of speech which they can employ in the widest possible range of situations. If they remain prisoners of their "restricted codes" whole areas of experience must remain closed to them.' Few teachers will quarrel with a point of view that is now widely accepted; but many of them need help in the technique of devising situations in the classroom and school, for the effective use of language. A great deal of interesting work is being done, prompted in many cases by the compulsory test in spoken English that is appearing in many of the syllabuses of the Certificate of Secondary Education. Lectures, debates, and formal discussions are to be heard in many secondary schools; but some teachers find it hard to establish a balance between the formal use of language and the cultivation of the ability to use without thinking the 'register' of speech appropriate for the many situations in which people find themselves in a complex society.

This is perhaps the criticism that is to be made of the admirable but rather formal use of speech that was found in the school described in the second chapter. It is necessary not only to help a child or young person to find words expressive of exactly what he wants to say, but to adapt his language to the register of the person or people he is talking to or the situation in which he finds himself. Much of this adaptation is involuntary; but it cannot possibly take place if the child is confined within what the linguists call 'a restricted code of speech'.

[page 45]

It is possible that drama can help in several ways. It can help teachers to create a wide variety of situations for the use of speech, it can supply an imaginative element that tends to be missing from the social situation of the classroom, and it provides opportunity for the speaker to be aware of his body as well as of his voice. These elements are not exclusive. Much of the time they are used by many English teachers. But drama is so close to English through common dependance upon the spoken language that many people argue for the complete integration of drama within the English departments of secondary schools.

An example has already been given of an English teacher who by establishing scenes in a Citizens Advice Bureau and a Town Council was rewarded with some lively discussions. The two scenes teetered on the edge of drama. A lecturer in a college of education gave his students some imaginary conversations to improvise: Hitler and Alexander, Kennedy and Mao tse tung, Montgomery and Clay. The emphasis was English rather than drama. But is it drama or English when children improvise the story of Macbeth and does it matter? Many schools prepare young people for interviews, stimulate them to discuss moral problems, and even introduce them to various careers by means of what is sometimes called 'role-playing'. It is similar in intent to the infant school that prepares the children for a visit to the doctor by turning the play-corner into a hospital. But some teachers believe that the virtue of the improvisation of Macbeth or the witch-ridden village of the seventeenth century lies in the far greater opportunities for a rich use of language that are provided by situations that take the children right out of their surroundings and their customary code of speech.

A number of references have already been made to the schools that are experimenting with the relationship between movement, sound and words. This work is of very great interest and serves to relate in realistic manner aspects of education that are too often kept apart. The limitation of role playing in the classroom seems to be that it minimises the possible contribution of movement; and although expressiveness of body is a less direct form of social communication than speech, yet there are codes and registers of behaviour and deportment just as there are of speech. The way in which a person stands or sits at an interview or in any social situation is highly expressive of his inner attitudes. If in this connection distinctions are to be made between drama and English, they must be to emphasise that speech, both as articulation and as an expression of the whole personality, cannot be divorced from the expressiveness of the whole body.

An important statement on the teaching of English and drama has recently been made by the editor of the journal of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama. In a recent issue he wrote:

[page 46]

'The point is being made with increasing vigour that the traditional ties between Speech on the one hand and Drama on the other should be severed. ... For various reasons the continuing link of Speech with Drama is holding back progress in speech which should be one aspect of studies in the whole field of English. But the theatre has concerned itself with problems of human oral communication since its birth ... and what substantial benefits would arise from Speech Studies if they were arbitrarily to be divorced from the body of knowledge out of which they sprang?'
While we are discussing speech and language we must applaud the enterprise of those authorities and drama advisers who arrange poetry readings in schools by distinguished actors and actresses. In one county 15,000 pupils from 450 schools have attended such recitals in the last three years. Occasionally programmes of prose and verse readings have been given by sixth form pupils in local primary schools.

Finally we should note the appreciation of many teachers for BBC broadcasts, especially in sound. Disregarding the sneers about 'BBCe English', the School Broadcasting Department puts out a most impressive programme of broadcasts, year after year, covering a wide range of prose and verse and demonstrating the use of the spoken language in many different forms.

The study of plays

There is grave danger that recent emphasis on improvised drama will detract from the importance of studying plays. Although this emphasis is at least partly to be explained as an escape from the literary domination of drama, the price that is being paid is the linguistic impoverishment of improvised drama. We are in grave danger of creating a situation when a play is something educationally offensive and the study of a text an undesirable activity except for a lot of egg-heads.

The danger arises from a tendency to separate improvisation in the drama lesson from the study of plays and literature in the English lesson. Many teachers admit to the difficulty of reconciling the two activities. If the dichotomy is established in the first year of a secondary school, the division may indeed become unbridgeable by the fourth year. But in fact these two aspects of drama appear to be complementary rather than exclusive.

Teachers are anxious for guidance on when to introduce young people to plays and which plays to begin with. This advice can only be given in terms of a complete syllabus, not only for English but for the humanities. It depends on whether children are ready for a play - and what do we mean by ready? If the question were put in terms of lyric poetry the answer might very well be that

[page 47]

there is no moment at which children are ready for poetry, since they will have become accustomed to jingles and rhymes on their mother's knee and the simpler lyrics are only a development of these basic poetic forms. Appreciation of poetry is much more difficult to establish when the children have never had a mother's knee. But at the same time an interest in language will not continue if nothing is done about it. Appreciation of poetry will reflect the imaginative and linguistic vitality of their whole environment. If teachers speak well to them, read them plenty of good literature, let them listen to stories on the wireless, they will respond to poetry with far greater readiness than if they have been linguistically and imaginatively starved. It is the same with drama. Children's readiness to enjoy a play will depend upon their experience of playing dramatically in their infant school; on the opportunities they had for drama in their junior school; on the quality of their work in English; on their appreciation of language; on their experience of movement. Improvised drama will help children to discover the nature of drama as an expressive form - this curious combination of words and movements to express or to recreate an imagined situation. Children of ten who can improvise the story of Macbeth with great understanding of what the play is all about will be ready to appreciate the way that Shakespeare handled at least some of the scenes. The children who wanted to put a suspected witch on trial should be ready for Bernard Shaw's St. Joan. When the improvisation of scenes from Julius Caesar was followed by a reading of scenes from the play, the young people were astonished at how much better Shakespeare had done it than they.

As to the choice of play, this depends again on what experience the children have had of the humanities. In one school the pupils were studying Henry V because the history department had initiated a project on war and peace. The plays of Shakespeare and other Elizabethan dramatists are often studied against a background of Tudor social history. The study of medieval plays has followed a performance of Noye's Fludde by the music department. Shaw is sometimes studied for his use of language. The modern dramatists are popular for their expression of contemporary attitudes.

Whatever study of plays goes on in the drama lesson we do not think that the English teacher should surrender his responsibility for the study of plays as literature. Aristotle who, like Plato, is largely honoured and ignored, places drama firmly alongside the epic as a major poetic form; and the teacher of English will find little need to change his approach in a preliminary study of Chaucer's pilgrims or Shakespeare's courtiers. Both poets have provided outstanding examples of the creation of character through words and it is the task of teachers to help young people to understand this process which lies at the heart of all literature. Critical emphasis changes; but an immensity of human experience is summed up in such opening lines as:

[page 48]

Whan that Aprille with his showres soote
Or the more dramatic:
In truth I know not why I am so sad
Good morning to the day! - and next my gold
Of man's first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree
whether the form is a literary or dramatic one.

Some readers may feel that much of the drama described in this report has a kind of therapeutic intention; that it is more concerned with what it can do for the personal growth of the pupils than with helping them to understand a form of art. Whether this is true or not, the two intentions are not in contradiction. In fact it is crucial that they should supplement each other. There is a place in education for the study of a play, not because its theme is relevant to contemporary politics, nor because it is of interest to the history department, but because it is a good play with significant dramatic and literary qualities.

On drama or a play as a form of art we have said very little in this report and this is because the subject has rarely been mentioned by teachers. But we must not forget that there is an aesthetic quality to a great play and it is the teacher of English, though he may also be a teacher of drama, who will draw attention to this quality and discuss it.

It is argued of course by many teachers that drama is something more than literature and this point of view can be respected as long as it does not detract from the admirable work done by a very large number of English teachers in bringing plays to life in the classroom. A play differs from a poem in that it is written to be moved and spoken aloud. A good play has certain qualities of language and construction that only reveal themselves in action and this has led many teachers to attempt some kind of modified action in the classroom somewhat on the lines that have been described by Caldwell Cook. This is an argument for the enlarging of at least one English classroom in a school to permit of some modified movement. We would not suggest that English teachers should encourage debased performances of plays at one end of the classroom but simply that along with the close study of the play, its language, its characters, its background, its style as literature, there is a possibility of some further work to enable young people to speak and hear the text, to gather some concept of the spatial relationship of the characters, to follow the dramatic pattern, and so on. Yet a problem remains, that many young people find it difficult to give anything like the vitality to speaking a text that they can often give to their own words or to improvised acting. Able and sensitive pupils become discouraged at their own inadequacies. It suggests that we must pay more attention to reading aloud as well as to speech with younger pupils. To detect the difference between written and spoken cadences is at least as much

[page 49]

a part of English teaching as other aspects of linguistics. The imaginative study of plays in the classroom led to a most discerning discussion in one girls' school on the similarities between King Lear and The Lord of the Flies and in another on Antigone, in the version of M. Anouilh, when the girls sided first with Antigone, then with Kreon, and finally with neither; and in yet another on Romeo and Juliet which ended with the girls agreeing that Juliet is a prig.

The use of school libraries for drama

Teachers of drama, whether or not they are also teachers of English, and the pupils whom they teach, can be expected to use the school library in the same ways as other teachers and their pupils. These ways include reference, general reading, obtaining information, acquiring knowledge, and enjoyment.

Some of the libraries that were seen were not as well equipped with books on drama and theatre as the amount of drama going on in the school seemed to merit. In secondary schools, libraries are now beginning to reflect the full curriculum rather than a traditional interest in the linguistic and humanistic disciplines such as literature and history, but the drama section of some school libraries did not reflect an interest in the kind of work in drama that has been described in this report.

It is of course essential that there should be a close relationship in the choice of books between the librarian, the drama teacher, and the other departments, especially English. Many of the books needed for drama will be found in other sections such as art, music, history, biography and literary criticism; but there remains a large field of interest in subjects specifically concerned with drama and theatrical history: biographies of notable actors, actresses, producers, and designers; books on the nature of the drama and the theatre, books on production for beginners, books on acting, speech, lighting, make-up, scene painting, and so on.

There are various relationships in schools between the central and classroom libraries. If drama teachers are to continue pressing for special drama rooms and workshops and if the large secondary schools are going to be provided with small halls largely intended for drama, they should be equipped with small collections of books, which might include sets of plays and manuals of a practical kind. With so many plays available in paper-back editions it is satisfactory to note that the reluctance of librarians to buy books whose life may not be long is largely a thing of the past. Even so it is probably best for books in the drama-room to be on short or long loan from the library where they can be catalogued and indexed, cared and accounted for by the librarian.

A school in the north-west provided us with an interesting account of the manner in which from the third year onwards the girls were encouraged to use

[page 50]

the library for project work on drama. These projects were largely based on aspects of theatrical history until the fifth year when they were related to the study of Shakespeare's plays in connection with the General Certificate of Education. This study included the shape and nature of the Shakespearian stage, Shakespeare's actors, and the songs and costumes of the period.

In this connection we should mention the use made by some schools of collections of records not only of spoken poetry but of recorded drama. Admirable performances of many plays, particularly Shakespeare's, are now available and it was agreeable to find a school where the pupils were encouraged to use the record library at lunch-time and after school in exactly the same way as they used the well-stocked library of books.

The intellectual and linguistic impoverishment of much of the work in drama is so serious that we should emphasise once again the importance of teachers ensuring that boys and girls of every age are brought into contact with first-class literature and are helped to discover the fascination of browsing among books on subjects of their choice. One of the surest ways of helping young people to see the relevance of great literature is for the teacher, at the right moment, to be able to lay his hand on the poem or the play that will make the point, or to send the pupils to the library to find a scene or passage for themselves. Where improvised drama is done with a sense of intellectual responsibility the most interesting dramatic anthologies have been created. On a number of occasions we have seen in schools and colleges of education programmes of verse and movement on a given theme. Improvised and literary drama are reciprocal and complementary. Each is impoverished without the other.

Some aspects of organisation

There are, in this country, as many different timetables, curricula, and arrangements of subjects as there are secondary schools. All that can be done by way of giving a picture of how drama is organised in secondary schools is to offer a few examples and suggest what appear to be the main lines of thought and practice. It will be difficult to avoid being either too precise or too generalised. Readers must be prepared to relate this general picture to their own experience.

A detailed investigation into the teaching and use of drama in the schools of Hampshire was carried out by the drama adviser and his assistants in connection with the national survey and the results were placed at our disposal.

Of the 50 or so secondary schools, 25 offer the pupils one drama lesson a week. In the second year it has fallen to 18, in the third year to 12, in the fourth and fifth years it is virtually non-existent. The number of schools offering one drama lesson a fortnight is so small as not to be worth considering.

[page 51]

Answers to questions about the value of drama cannot be neatly categorised. Broadly, they speak of the effect of drama on the individual child and his attitude towards the group. They include many comments on the development of the personality, self-awareness, self-assurance, self-discipline, and development of the imagination. These points were far more frequently made than references to speech, dramatic literature, or the theatre arts.

On the question of limiting factors, lack of space and specialist staff were far and away the most commonly mentioned. 20 of the 50 schools spoke of heavy demands on the hall by other subjects, school meals, for use in bad weather, and so on. Six said that they had no room for movement, changing, storage, or staging. 24 schools referred to acute staffing problems: either no specialist or no continuity of specialist staff. In 24 schools the drama specialist took between 6 and 35 periods of drama, averaging 19 a week. Half of them made up their timetable with English, usually about three forms for five periods a week. Two took religious knowledge, one biology, one games, one mathematics, two took general subjects, and one took dancing.

There are no figures to hand on double periods. Teachers with greater resources and experience, working under reasonable conditions, seem on the whole to prefer one double to two single periods a week.

Subjects in which dramatic methods are habitually used, and in descending order of frequency, are: French, English, history, religious education, and Latin.

Answers to the Hampshire questionnaire can be compared with those of a limited survey carried out by the drama study group of the south-east Essex branch of the National Association of the Teachers of English.

'... Some schools pursued clearly defined policies on timetable drama. Some had policies but did not implement them. ... In some schools where drama was considered a part of English, active work seemed to be undertaken only where an individual teacher was enthusiastic and could manage to find a hall vacant. In some cases drama seemed to be timetabled only where it was administratively convenient.

The diversity of views upon what constitutes drama were most apparent. Some schools commented exclusively in terms of publicly performed plays, or domestic performances or speech or, more rarely, upon movement. Yet of the 40 per cent of the schools that made a return, 94 per cent, 84 per cent, 73 per cent and 94 per cent admitted to using mime, free movement, dance drama, and improvisation respectively.'

Although there is no reason to suppose that Hampshire or south-east Essex are typical of the country, the pattern emerging is broadly similar to the rather

[page 52]

more general picture we have of work in Gloucestershire, Northumberland, and certain other authorities.

It is true of many schools that drama is taken mostly with the first year pupils, with many of the second year, and with a decreasing number of the older age-groups. It disappears, however, only as a timetabled activity. In some areas drama is studied as a part of the Certificate of Secondary Education, though we found only two schools throughout the country offering Mode III in drama. In some schools drama is an optional subject in the upper school. Among older pupils it tends to become a specialist activity taking place for the most part outside school hours.

We have been interested to find a number of junior schools experimenting with vertical grouping throughout the school. As we have already mentioned, this is an arrangement that appears to be productive of interesting work in drama and the arts. We have not seen enough vertical grouping in secondary schools to be able to draw any conclusions. It is of course the natural state of things in youth groups and more will be said about this in the next chapter. But there is an interesting aspect of vertical grouping to which a number of drama teachers have drawn attention. Different stages of physical growth between boys and girls are most marked in the first three years of secondary schools. By the third year, when most of the girls are mature, there is usually a great variety of shapes and sizes, broken and unbroken voices among the boys; and it is rare to see them work together. Vertical grouping gives greater opportunities for adjustment of biological growth between boys and girls and so makes it rather more possible for them to work together.

A far more common type of experiment is to be found in the many schools that are making efforts to break down the traditional subject-organised curriculum and to find ways by which various groups of subjects can be taught together. These courses are given a number of different titles - Humanities, Activities, Social Education, and so on. From this kind of broadly based organisation drama, which in its very essence likes to sprawl over a number of different subjects, stands to benefit. But what is more important, for a school does not exist for the benefit of a subject, drama can make a considerable contribution to this kind of organisation. An interesting experiment is taking place in a west country school where a teacher is taking three first-year classes for English, history, art, and drama. He would like to include music but lacks experience.

Some authorities are discussing plans for what is called the Middle School, covering the years 8 or 9 to 12 or 13. These are the top years in present primary schools and the lower years in secondary schools when, as we have seen, a great deal of drama is done. We hope that whenever possible provision will be made for an activity from which the young people of this age particularly stand to derive considerable benefits.

[page 53]

Schemes and syllabuses

The uncertainties, and in some cases the confusion, prevailing in educational drama at the present time, are reflected in some of the schemes of work that have been shown to us. One school distinguishes mime from improvisation in the first year by proposing that mime is individual work and improvisation group work, and that the one can be developed into the other. A note on first year work advocates 'Scenes developed from an opening speech leading up to a closing speech' which suggests the greatest uncertainty about the way children work and the nature of improvisation. For second year drama the following suggestion is made: 'Playmaking, introducing disciplines and artistic shape imposed by the presence of an audience.' The confusion between play making, discipline, artistic shape, and the effect of an audience is very disturbing.

From another school: 'All activities should be collective initially.' One wonders what the teacher has in mind. Drama takes many forms: sometimes individual work, sometimes work in pairs, in small groups, and occasionally with the class as a whole.

'Use music whenever possible - this frees movement which in turn frees speech.' It is difficult to know what is meant by 'freeing movement'. Some kinds of music can sometimes give rise to some kinds of movement, but there is no assurance that movement will give rise to speech.

'Ensure that the children understand that they must not begin any action until they are instructed to do so and must become "statues" when told to stop.'

Drama is an art: school drama is an art in embryo. We must pay great regard to the way in which the creative spirit of a human being, let alone a child, is nurtured. Drama was born of Athenian democracy not the parade ground at Potsdam. This is marching indeed.

Some of the secondary school syllabuses show a distressingly patronising attitude to what is thought to be going on elsewhere. 'In the primary schools, if they have done any drama work, the children will probably have done a considerable amount of movement work but little speech work. Often they will have done neither. Such movement work as they might have done will have been largely undisciplined.' One can only applaud the secondary school teachers who take the trouble to visit the local primary schools and see what kind of work in fact the children are doing.

It is immensely refreshing when one comes across a syllabus that states plainly a realistic and progressive scheme beginning with the statement:

'The course begins with exercises designed to allow the pupil to discover the potential of his own individuality. Bodily movements, sensory perception and imaginative exploration are a means to this end.'
and ending:

[page 53

'What has been done so far will find a reflection in the work of the Junior Drama Society where free movement, music, dance, and improvised speech will lead to the kind of stage presentation which involves all the attitudes and skills hitherto developed.'
Public performances and the school play

Many teachers are opposed to any kind of performance by children in a primary school. It is part of the basic difficulty of all work in drama that anyone watching it wants to be impressed, moved, made to laugh, or otherwise excited. The communal pressure of an audience can be very powerful. An athlete can be stimulated to greater exertions but a child or even an adult on the stage can be induced to lose complete control of himself and to show-off. There are few precautions that can be taken except to ensure that the children's work is ready to be shown, that performances are not given too often, that audiences are small and the occasion not too formal. Music is 'safer' for children to perform in public since its discipline of form provides its own safeguards. Yet children often wish to share their work with others and to show what they have done, and on occasion it is right that they should do so.

It is unfortunate that Nativity plays in infant schools have for long provided less satisfactory examples of public performance. Though often based on a proper need for parents and children to join in a common liturgical experience, performances tend to be marred by the self-consciousness of the children. A similar difficulty arises with festivals. While it is proper that teachers should wish to share their work with other schools and to see what other schools are doing, it is difficult to prevent a festival from becoming artificial and competitive. The powerful empathy of a group of people sharing a common emotional experience is at work again and a natural instinct for prestige flows back into the schools and gives false values to work that is often badly in need of finding its own natural level. In one county very large numbers of children and school groups enter speech and drama festivals in which a number of different categories provide opportunities for a great variety of work. There is little doubt that standards have been raised very considerably. But it is only fair to say that there are those who fear that festivals impose a formality on work that should be kept as free and flexible as possible.

The educational justification for the production of a play with older pupils in front of an audience is that it is the culmination of a process that began when the child of three put on a hat and pretended to be a grown woman. From dramatic play to the production of a play there is a consistent development from which it is to be hoped that more children will benefit in the future than they do at present. Drama teachers are therefore faced with some important educational decisions: what factors govern the choice of play? How should it be rehearsed and staged? Who should take part in it?

[page 55]

Indications of how these questions are to be answered have already been given. The factors governing choice of play are first of all the readiness of any group of young people in the school to stage a play in public. This group may be a form group, a year group, a drama society. Their readiness is their ability to communicate in dramatic terms. A large amount of the improvised drama that has been discussed in this report has only a limited communicative quality. Its purpose has been to provide the children and young people with opportunities to explore various aspects of human nature, personal relationships, or the environment, in dramatic terms. Sometimes, when improvisations achieve a particular clarity, they are given in front of small audiences; but their main purpose is not on the whole aesthetic and not always communicative.

The step from speaking one's own words to speaking those of a dramatist with equal conviction and vitality is a difficult one, and the problems are increased when the text has to be spoken, moved and acted with sufficient clarity, conviction, and projection to hold the attention of every member of possibly a large audience for upwards of three hours.

The difficulty for young people of changing from improvised to written dialogue is always acute when classroom improvisation has not been accompanied over the years by practice in reading aloud and speaking. We have constantly emphasised that education in all aspects of English and the arts must proceed on a broad front. If one element is emphasised at the expense of another, sooner or later the lack of balance will become evident. Young people, capable of improvising in the liveliest fashion, often find the greatest difficulty in bringing life to a simple dramatic text. But if they have never read poetry aloud in the classroom, or become practised in using different registers of speech, they can hardly be expected to make music of Shakespeare's verse or to speak a text of Bernard Shaw with understanding of the quality of the language.

The chosen play must therefore be one that is written in a style the young people can hope to master. The language of the Restoration dramatists, for example, presents even greater difficulties than that of Shakespeare. It must have characters that are reasonably within the emotional and imaginative range of the young people. And perhaps most important of all, it must be a play the young people want to do. It must say something they feel is worth saying, or represent in some way what they feel is worth communicating to an audience.

Many teachers are aware of these problems. They use all kinds of methods to bring texts to life and traces of them are sometimes apparent in the final productions. But in helping boys and girls to escape from the strait-jacket of a text and find freedom in speaking their lines, there is a tendency for producers to allow the style of the play to be overridden by the exuberance of the

[page 56]

performers. It is a reasonable exchange as long as teachers and producers remember their responsibility towards a text and its style.

A correspondent writes:

'In the past few months I have seen an austerely simple, well-spoken Everyman at a girls' grammar school, a convincing production of The Liar (Goldoni) given by fourth year pupils - convincing in spite of the almost inevitable failure to respect the style of the piece; a very moving Antigone (Anouilh), the first joint production of two newly amalgamated single-sex grammar schools; an intelligent and swift production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and, by contrast with all these, HMS Pinafore at yet another comprehensive school - staff, parents, local male voice choir, university students and friends, all coming together with pupils for a brave, if uneven attempt to offer live entertainment-starved local residents an alternative to television.

Had time and other engagements permitted I might also have seen what everybody tells me was a spirited and sensitive production of Henry IV, Part 1. I also had to miss The Devil's Disciple and A Man for All Seasons.'

He goes on to point out that for those who took part either as actors or behind the scenes, who helped with properties, scenery, costumes or lighting, these school productions were probably a most useful team exercise. For some pupils they must have provided an experience transcending the formal manner in which they were on the whole presented.

This experience is consistent with evidence from other parts of the country; in recent years the choice of play has become very much more enterprising than formerly. The plays of Brecht are popular, especially The Caucasian Chalk Circle with its colourful blend of irony, morality and theatricality, and many of the contemporary British and European dramatists such as Pinter, Wesker, Camus, Durrenmatt, Frisch, and Anouilh. Teachers and young people are clearly interested in plays that have some kind of relevance to contemporary life or the human situation. They tend to choose plays with large casts and opportunities for imaginative treatment. Shakespeare more than holds his own. Peer Gynt is often produced, and among the plays of the Attic dramatists The Trojan Women, for obvious reasons, is popular.

In spite of an overall improvement in the quality of plays that are being given, oddities remain. A grammar school in an industrial suburb was seen rehearsing Salad Days; another, in the south of England, was found to be doing Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers while a nearby secondary modern was staging The Trojan Women. It is, however, unwise to jibe. There are sometimes reasons why apparently inappropriate plays are chosen. It is not necessary for serious drama to be solemn.

[page 57]

An English teacher at a public school has recently argued in print that 'the role of free drama is to create situations in which human problems and predicaments can be "acted out"'; and the school play is an extension of this - 'a highlight in a carefully built-up programme of dramatic education in which the pupil systematically acquires both the techniques of speech and movement, and also the desire and ability to project his personality in ways which are sincere and meaningful.'

One teacher meets the problem of finding plays with big casts by writing his own. Recent productions of The Lord of the Flies, The Insect Play, and Vice Versa have included large numbers of small boys all of whom managed to acquire for Mr. Anstey's story, for example, Eton jackets and striped trousers.

There is a further consideration in choice of play. Many schools are in towns without theatres or where few opportunities for theatre-going exist. Some heads feel that their school should make a contribution to the life of the community and favour the production of a more popular play than if educational values alone had to be considered. This may partially account for the continued popularity of Gilbert and Sullivan especially in the north of England. 'I'm glad to have lived long enough to see Gilbert and Sullivan, once scorned, completely rehabilitated,' writes a teacher. 'A Mikado or Mozart's Magic Flute can pull a school together like nothing else.'

This last point has been noticeable in junior schools. Vigorous performances that have drawn much of their music from the commercial theatre may have lacked something of the musical and dramatic education we have discussed in this report, but they have brought an enlivening and transforming effect to schools that were previously depressed and lacking vitality.

In spite of what has been said about the linguistic poverty of much of the drama that we have seen, teachers often help children to write their own plays. An example comes from a school in the south of England where a skilful young teacher persuaded all the first year children, numbering some 240, and their teachers, to collaborate in the performance of a spectacular musical play on Egyptian and Hittite themes called Inscriptions for a Dead Prince. Costumes were designed and made, music composed and performed, text written and acted, entirely by the young people under the guidance of skilful and devoted staff. The origin of the performance was some impressive Egyptian designs and models with which the head of the art department had decorated the school hall at Christmas and which had inspired the pupils to further investigation.

Another impressive example comes from a school in the west country where a sixth form optional group composed, with the help of their drama teacher and at the suggestion of the Spanish master, a play on the conquest of Mexico. The art department collaborated with colourful decor and costumes. The inclusion

[page 58]

of members of the lower school to 'carry spears' provided an interesting example of vertical grouping. Both older and younger pupils admitted to the pleasure they had derived from working together. The public performances were merely the end-point of many months of research, thought, discussion, and creative writing.

Art, craft and handicraft

Creative play in the infants school is not only enriched by the assumption of an article of attire but greatly stimulated by it. Does the significance of a hat lie in the fact that it adorns the most conspicuous part of our person and is highly revealing of character? Is the significance of a skirt that it is the distinguishing feature of the female sex? Why does a child of three set so great store by a skirt that will reach the ground? What is the satisfaction derived from its ability to swirl? At the time of writing it is not only boys in infant schools who in the manner of their hero, Batman, like to adorn themselves in cloaks; they are worn plentifully by adolescents. The anthropology of dressing-up seems to be an important aspect of education, and dressing-up is an important feature of infants' schools.

It is disappointing, however, to have found little dressing-up in junior schools. Teachers suggest that by the age of 7 children have grown out of it. Yet a headmaster in the north-east said that dressing-up - and he meant no more than the wearing of bits and pieces of costumes - plays a big part in the process of identification and the kind of drama that takes place in the junior school. Children who have resources in movement, he said, will respond quickly to a skirt, a hat, a cloak, and it was noticeable that in all their work in drama - and much of it was of outstanding quality - most of his children were wearing some kind of a costume. It should be remembered, perhaps, that discrimination in the choice of clothes and sensitivity towards personal appearance is a profound human instinct. While still very young, children are quite capable of becoming intensely aware of colour, shape, style, and the nature of different materials and fabrics.

Most of the dressing-up that was seen in primary schools was done as a part of the work in art and craft. In secondary schools there is little dressing-up until the young people begin to think about public performances. It is a pity that collaboration cannot begin much earlier.

In girls and mixed schools the costumes for the school play are usually made by the needlework department, often with distinguished results. Scenery, which tends to fare less well than costume, is usually in the hands of the handicraft department. School productions are often seriously hindered by lack of stage facilities or the nature of the playing-space that is being used, and by lack of equipment with which to improvise settings for drama.

[page 59]

If collaboration between various departments is to be successful it cannot be left until a play is about to be staged. When young people are given the opportunity to dress up, which happens rarely, they do so with quite as much enthusiasm as children in an infant school. Their intense interest in clothes is ample evidence of their interest in material, colour, and style. This deep interest, it seems, might well be furthered by the provision of skirts, trousers, hats, cloaks, and other articles of clothing as a stimulus for improvisation. It has also been suggested that classroom projects with a historical slant might well be developed by exploration of the physical style of a period by means of dressing-up. Elaborate or historically accurate costumes are not necessary to discover the difference between a high and low waistline, tights and pumps and cavalier bucket-top boots, knee-breeches and tight-fitting trousers, décolleté and a ruff. All these aspects of costume can be simply improvised. And the natural result of wearing a costume is the instinct to move in it. Do boots, waistlines, ruffs, and hats affect the way in which one moves? Young people will discover the answer in a moment if they try. And once in movement they will be ready to consider the wearing of swords, the handling of fans, of snuff-boxes, how to curtsey and bow, and how to dance. And when they have danced they will want to sit. Is there a relationship between costume and style of furniture? Again, they can find out by trying. 'May I wear a long Elizabethan dress and say, "Where has thou been?'" said a thirteen year old girl in a west of England school, sensing the relationship between costume and language. Clothes worn for the galliard and the minuet have some significance when they are compared with those that are worn for the ballroom fox-trot or the jive in the discotheque.

It has long been claimed that one of the advantages of drama in school is the opportunities it gives for young people of various skills, talents. and enthusiasms, to take part in a communal project. This is true in part; but there is a widespread tendency for the bright ones to act and the rest to be set sewing hems or painting flats. These duller jobs must be done. But they must be done as a part of a wider investigation of materials. Drama seems to make sense when we see young people experimenting with the many different ways of preparing a piece of material to be made into a costume: tie-dyeing, wax resist, block printing, painting, spraying or dyeing the material, and the like; or when they are making swords, shields, costume jewellery and other properties in the course of which they are exploring perhaps for the first time the use of papier-maché, plaster, and new materials such as polystyrene.

Unfortunately there is not much evidence of young people designing scenery and costume themselves. If they have had no experience of the choice and use of materials they cannot be expected to design costumes and decor for Antony and Cleopatra; but if in the course of their work in art, drama, and handicrafts, they have grown used to handling materials, paints, dyes and so

[page 60]

on, they should be given the opportunity to put their experience to the test by designing and making costumes and scenery for a production that is really going to take place and in which they or their friends are going to act. Familiarity with the use of materials is the preliminary to disciplined design as work in improvisation is a preliminary to the production of a play. Young people must be given opportunities to try and to fail. But teachers must be ready to support them in their failure. If the size and importance of the occasion do not permit the possibility of failure, there must be something wrong with the occasion. It is, besides, open to question whether a performance can be said to have succeeded when the costumes have been hired from a costumier and the scenery has been made by members of the staff without involving the pupils at any stage.

Space for drama

A radical change is taking place in primary school design and this of course has direct relevance to drama as a way of working. The traditional classrooms and formal desks are disappearing and there is a tendency to make the places where the children are working - and they are to be found working everywhere in the school, both inside and outside the classrooms, individually and in small groups - very much less formal and cramped, very much more varied, and providing a more lively environment.

When formal class units are broken up into small groups and individuals, and work on the different subjects becomes interrelated, then a school plan can offer all kinds of opportunities in all kinds of different spaces - whether these take the form of quiet sitting-rooms, small kitchens, workshop bays, recesses or alcoves for books; whether they take the form of larger, more open spaces, with different levels perhaps, and lights, screens, rostra, curtains. At any point in the school, at any time of the day, work can assume a dramatic form, whether it happens at the moment to be concerned with cooking or kings.

Furniture, too, is becoming far less formal, far more varied and lighter to move about. There are curtains, screens, rostra, easels, workbenches, cupboards and bins on rollers. A space can be quickly cleared, a curtain drawn across an alcove, a screen and some rostra placed in position: there is a setting for drama. There have been similar developments in the design of halls in primary schools. Equipped with rostra and curtained bays, they are suitable for a range of educational activities such as drama and movement.

As to space for drama in secondary schools there is little to add to what was written in Building Bulletin No. 30 - Drama and Music. The many conflicting uses remain and it becomes no easier to design a general purpose hall that will meet the needs of half-a-dozen potential users.

[page 61]

The conventional square or rectangular hall with a platform or proscenium stage at one end is of little use for the kind of work in drama that has been seen in many schools. In such halls the stage is sometimes used as a working-space but classes more often take place on the floor of the hall. We have been dismayed, however, by the amount of time and effort we have seen expended in clearing and stacking chairs at the beginning of a lesson and replacing them at the end. This tedious operation wastes the time of school-keepers, teachers, and children alike, and must shorten the life of both the chairs and the floor of the hall.

Proscenium stages are often used for the production of a school-play for lack of anything better. Unfortunately they are often poor examples of their kind, with all the limitations that have been described in the Building Bulletin. The two most common inadequacies may perhaps be mentioned once again. One is lack of space, not for the acting area, but in the wings, so that it is often impossible to stack scenery, furniture or properties. The other is lack of provision for lighting. The design of auditoria with their pendant chandeliers rarely permits the addition of the front-of-house lighting which is now generally accepted to be essential for a proscenium-type stage. It is interesting in this connection to see the shift to which lighting engineers are put in commercial theatres where spotlights now habitually mingle with the cherubs that surround the boxes and the baroque incrustations in front of the circle. Great ingenuity is being used to make stages flexible and responsive to changing needs, but in this period of transition architectural styles are understandably tentative and uncertain.

Inadequate provision for lighting is even more serious when the floor of the hall is used for performances. The edges of the hall become cluttered with gantries and towers and long unsightly bundles of cable which are significantly called in the theatrical profession 'tripe'. Spotlights are not ugly in themselves, but excessive evidence of making-do is rarely satisfactory.

The big hall, however, does provide a meeting-place for large groups of young people, if not for the whole school. Whether they can be designed in a manner that makes them acceptable for use by drama teachers is another matter. Children and young people can be swamped by space. Some authorities have provided their secondary schools with large halls designed to be used for drama, the floor constructed on several levels, and a grid built into the ceiling for flexible lighting. But there are teachers who think these halls are too big for any but the most experienced teachers and young people who have gained confidence in their work.

Areas of work are sometimes defined by the use of spotlights and although there is something to be said for the view that discreet lighting is a help to the more self-conscious pupils, great unlit spaces can create their own trauma.

[page 62]

The now fairly popular idea of a drama studio of about 1500 square feet [140m²] for class use has much to commend it. Any such space has to be included in the limits laid down by the Department of Education and Science for any new school building. A head is thus obliged to weigh the needs of drama against those of other subjects, and how much it is likely to be used and by whom. But studios and workshops of this kind are now being included in colleges of education, colleges of further education, and technical colleges. One authority is equipping every new secondary school that is eight-form entry or bigger with a studio of this kind.

A welcome provision in larger schools would be rooms for English large enough to take a few low rostra and some classroom furniture. It is surprising that the simple but purposeful 'mummery' at the Perse School, Cambridge, has not been imitated.

Space is not altogether a luxury. Human relationships are often expressed in spatial terms. Children and young people must acquire concepts of space as they must of shape, weight, volume, balance, area, length, and so on. This is the beginning of what the psychologists call conceptual thinking. It is the opportunity that drama provides for further and extended aspects of such thinking that earn it the right to be taken seriously.


It has not been possible in the course of this survey to give the attention to puppets that the art deserves. Puppetry has never fully established itself in this country and it has tended to remain in a kind of no man's land inadequately supported by drama, craft, or art. Yet there is no denying the intense pleasure that professional puppetry can bring to children and adults alike, or the educational viability of puppetry in schools.

We did not seek out work in puppetry but we never refused an invitation to see it when we came upon it. Work on puppets in a college of art has long established the impressive variety of forms that puppets can take - shadow, rod, glove, and marionettes, to name only the main kinds. They provide opportunities for the most purposeful and imaginative work in craft and work that can be related to close observation of human beings, their shapes, their clothes, their way of moving, as well as of animals and many aspects of nature. Having been made, they can be used. Shadow puppets lend themselves to a great variety of two dimensional movement. Glove and rod puppets provide the very essence out of which plays are made. Children must not only manipulate the puppets but speak the lines, preferably having composed the dialogue themselves. They can give a performance but without being obliged to present themselves before an audience. Puppets are not a replacement for

[page 63]

drama; but they provide an admirable opportunity for a subtle combination of sound, music, speech, movement, art, and drama that can be expressed on any level from the simplest to the most sophisticated. It is surprising that the art, drama, and education departments of colleges of education do not collaborate more often in this distinctive and highly rewarding form of expression.


It is interesting to note that some of the most interesting work in developing relationships between drama and other subjects is being promoted by art departments. Sometimes, as in a school in the south, this involves a response in sound, word and movement by the drama students to a setting of unusual textures and three-dimensional 'creations' by art students.

Sometimes, as in a college of education, the students explore the visual aspects of drama by means of photography and film. The medium, in these experiments, is more important than the content. Successful synthesis is not often achieved, but young people clearly find particular interest in this area of investigation.

[page 64]

4 Drama and youth

This chapter is concerned with drama in youth clubs, in young people's theatre workshops and as an out-of-school and after-school activity for young people up to the age of about 21.

From a survey recently carried out by the National Youth Theatre there seem to be about 120 reasonably stable youth drama groups in the country; but if we were to include all the youth clubs, statutory and voluntary, the Young Farmers' Clubs, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, the church clubs, the uniformed clubs and every other sort of club that enters plays for a festival sometime in the course of a year the number would run into thousands. Let us begin by looking at drama as it is often to be found in a youth club.

Drama in youth clubs

The atmosphere of many youth clubs, noisy, social, sometimes cheerfully boisterous, is not on the whole conducive to drama, which needs space, quietness and a good deal of time. First, then, the question of space.

None of the more recently built clubs that were seen had a special room for drama. Open planning, which provides so many opportunities for drama in a primary school, does not provide the privacy that is necessary for adolescents. In some clubs, however, where a group had been formed, meetings were held in the library or quiet room with which most clubs are provided. This is not an ideal arrangement, but it is probably better than to let the activity languish. Drama usually fares better, spatially speaking, in the clubs occupying older premises where there is often a room that can be allocated for use by the drama group. In clubs that meet in schools there is usually little difficulty in providing the group with a classroom or even arranging for it to have the use of the hall several evenings a week. Where no adequate room for drama can be provided there is a tendency for the group to look for a room elsewhere or to meet in the home of one of the members or the producer.

Since drama is often associated in a rather superficial way with 'showing-off', it might be as well to emphasise that drama, in fact, is an extremely personal form of expression and that it is probably limited by self-consciousness on the part of young people more than any other art. In acting one is both instrument and instrumentalist. There is no canvas, block of stone or page of

[page 65]

script to hide behind. Many young people not used to drama, but tentatively ready to 'have a go', can be acutely embarrassed unless working in privacy or among people that they know. In some clubs it was not possible to see the drama group at work at all.

Drama also tends to be a proliferator of clutter. It involves the making and storing of scenery, costumes, properties and electrical equipment. This can rarely be provided for in a 'general purpose' club and is another reason why older buildings are often more suitable for drama than newer and more economically designed ones.

Another important need is for a good producer. (The word is used to describe the leader of the group whether he is teacher, a member of the group or a social worker.) No teaching, as has been emphasised, is easy, teaching drama least of all. Producing with a youth group is perhaps the most difficult kind of drama teaching of any, at least to do well. A teacher in a school has a captive class. A producer in a youth group has a voluntary class. If the members of the group do not enjoy, or see the sense of what they are doing, they will leave. A successful producer must therefore combine some kind of understanding of the psychological problems of adolescence and the social problems of a youth group, with a real expertise in drama and theatre. Where are such people to come from? Producers of amateur drama groups are not on the whole ready to cope with the noisy atmosphere, the limited accommodation and many of the characteristics of the young people who say they want to act. It needs deep conviction in the value of the work and a rare mixture of goodwill and expertise to face the difficulties. It is therefore understandable that many youth officers and club leaders look to teachers, and it was, in fact, they who were doing most of the more impressive work that was seen. But with the development of out-of-school activities in many of the secondary schools, teachers with the necessary interest, skill, time and energy are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

A number of youth officers have suggested that one way of training producers for youth club drama might be by introducing drama into Youth Leadership courses in colleges of education. This is a proposal that might be worth pursuing. The National College for the Training of Youth Leaders provides opportunities for students to work at drama among the many options open to them, but it does not provide any special training.

Of the cities that have been visited or of which information has been received there were not many where drama is established as an organised club activity. In one city, however, there were eight clubs with flourishing drama groups. One of them, situated in by no means the most socially favoured part of the city, has had a long tradition of producing scenes from, and plays by, Shakespeare as a result of the enthusiasm of a local schoolmaster. Another was

[page 66]

enjoying the services of a talented composer of popular music. Members were rehearsing a lively musical version of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, while a couple of girls of nineteen, both secretaries, were making costumes most skilfully in the corner of the room. Other club members were attending four nights a week to build scenery for the production. The vitality of drama in this town was partly attributed to the lively new repertory theatre which many young people in the city regarded with pride as 'their theatre'.

Thus, there is a tendency for drama groups to move away from the clubs and to emphasise the specialist nature of their work. This movement must be related to what is happening in the schools. It will be remembered that drama, where it happens at all in secondary schools, flourishes in the first year and tends to languish as the children grow older, until by their fourth year it is offered, if at all, as an option, as a club activity out of school hours, or as the school play. We have been impressed, however, by the fact that a very large number of the young people who are members of youth drama groups are fourteen and fifteen and still at school. Investigation and much questioning confirmed our beliefs that young people join youth drama groups while they are still at school if their interest in the subject has been aroused and then unsatisfied, or if they want further opportunities to work at something they have enjoyed at school. These young people do not want a youth club for social purposes: they want a drama club for artistic purposes.

Realising the importance of this relationship between drama in schools and the youth service, the drama inspector of the London County Council, as it then was, established a number of what she called 'Link' groups composed of young people still at school and those who had left school. Although it was not obligatory for a boy or girl to have been at that particular school, the link groups were not as open to general membership as a youth club or a youth drama group. There are about twelve of these groups still in existence. One of the most vigorous of these has grown into Teenage Theatre and recruits members from all parts of London.

The teacher is often the crucial element in the link group. It is the wish of young people to continue working with their drama teacher that leads to their membership of these groups. Some teachers of drama, such as many of those in the north-east, for example, consider it to be their responsibility to meet the demand of young people for opportunities to continue with their work in drama in their spare time and so develop after-school and evening groups of this kind; but they do not use the word 'link'.

Drama centres and theatre workshops

The logical outcome of this movement for the isolation of the youth drama group has been the formation of independent youth drama groups throughout

[page 67]

the country. In one county near London, for example, there are ten independent drama groups and two more are being formed.

These independent groups are taking a variety of forms and a few examples will be given.

Historically the most significant is probably the Rae Street Drama Centre, Birmingham. It was established in 1948 in a junior school. The director was given a small hall, a committee room and an office exclusively for his own use, but he is free to use the hall in the evenings. The centre offers a large range of activities for children and young people to come and act and learn about the theatre; classes for young people who are disturbed or delinquent and in need of special help; an experimental adult theatre; a theatre for children in which most of the productions are 'polished improvisations'; and a succession of courses and conferences. This centre receives visitors from all over the world, and it is regrettable that over the years the director has not been able to acquire his own premises.

The most ambitious centre is undoubtedly the Midlands Arts Centre in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham. The buildings so far completed, or nearly so, form the first instalment of a complex that is to cover fifteen acres [6 hectares] and include a studio theatre, an arena style open-air theatre, canteen, rest-room, exhibition space, music studios and considerable workshop accommodation for work in clay, wood and other materials. The director views the present accommodation as, among other things, a kind of arts club for young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five and a cultural centre where teachers can bring children while still at school. He sees it as a microcosm of what he hopes the centre will be in ten years' time. At weekends the centre is used largely by families, so that parents can enjoy its practical facilities along with their children. It is at present being used by 5,000 family groups and 1,500 young people of whom about half are in full-time employment. It is a courageous and visionary experiment in spreading cultural literacy.

There is also a growing number of youth drama studios and theatre workshops. Examples have been seen at Bournemouth, Basingstoke and Preston. The first of these is established in a disused junior school to which an adjacent infants' school has recently been added. These premises have been imaginatively converted into an impressive complex of rehearsal rooms, workshops, wardrobes and storage rooms of which all the schools in the authority can take advantage. The more modest workshop at Basingstoke consists of an intelligently converted hall with limited space for storage and changing. The conversion was done by the young people themselves. Both centres are modestly but adequately equipped and intelligently administered by full-time directors paid by the authority.

[page 68]

Stage Centre, Woolwich, provides another example of close collaboration between the director of a local theatre, the drama teacher from a local comprehensive school and the principal of the local recreational evening institute. The centre, housed in an old school, again converted by the young people themselves, is equipped with workshops, wardrobe and a large rehearsal room.

Several drama centres have been established in Devonshire. The centre at Crediton is particularly impressive. It is well equipped and runs a varied programme of courses for schools and young people generally, as well as providing a kind of meeting place for the county's drama adviser and peripatetic assistants.

In Reading a group of young people, under the enthusiastic leadership of a local teacher, have built and equipped their own small theatre where regular classes are given in all aspects of theatrical art, as well as occasional productions.

Many groups have not managed to acquire their own premises and the limitations imposed on them by having to meet in school halls where they often do not have as much as a cupboard where they can store their equipment are very severe. If enterprising authorities want to come to the help of youth drama groups the most valuable way in which they could do so would be by helping them to acquire a reasonable sized room or small hall largely for their own use.

Youth drama festivals

In some counties youth drama tends to mean Youth Drama Festivals. One adviser writes:

'It is perhaps significant that this year's entry included only one ordinary youth club; the others were specialist groups. ... Some of these young people had bitten off more than they could chew, and some of them were handicapped either by poor production or by lack of any real foundation of dramatic experience. ... But they were all tremendously absorbed in what they were doing; and what some of them were doing, particularly in the Brecht scenes, went a long way to helping them find their individuality.'
Thoughts about non-competitive festivals have been conflicting and contradictory for many years. The main arguments in their favour are that they provide a spur to clubs who might otherwise take an indolent attitude towards their work; and that they provide an opportunity for producers and young people to see and discuss each other's work. The latter is the more impressive argument. The case against festivals rests on the fact that a certain number of

[page 69]

young people working in drama groups are not ready to show their work in public; and that the inevitable publicity of a festival creates false values.

The case for the retention of the competitive element is even more strongly argued by many thoughtful people. Competition, they say, provides the stimulus and the standards. The argument against competition is that it produces the wrong kind of ethos and that young people should be prepared to produce their plays and show them, if necessary, in public for their own sake and not in the hope of winning a silver cup or an emblazoned shield. Another difficulty in the competitive festival arises from the growing practice of improvisation. Plays of this kind do not lend themselves so readily to competitive festivals as scripted plays. A recent festival in Nottingham did, however, succeed in making provision for both kinds of drama.

In this changing situation great responsibility is placed on the adjudicators, who need to be increasingly alive to the educational background of youth drama and the particular problems of the great variety of clubs, groups and centres that may be participating.

Work of youth drama groups

Many youth drama groups are trying to find the real significance of drama. They want to break away from the concept, as one drama adviser put it, of 'Mystery at Green Fingers in box sets'. We have quoted the adviser who spoke of the young people's work on Brecht as having done much to help them to discover their individuality. This determination to comment on the contemporary situation through drama has been well expressed by the producer of the 1520 Youth Drama Group who wrote:

We are trying to find an instrument, a voice, an attitude - to find an approach to drama as an expression of normal human beings. ... There is no set pattern of work ... just an attempt to follow the rhythms of life itself into an understanding of art.
Some of this attempt to find 'a voice' is done by means of improvised drama, some through plays; but in the latter case the choice becomes difficult. The 1520 group has dramatised stories by Alan Sillitoe and at the time of writing is working on his version of Lopé de Vega's Fuente Ovejuna. Plays seem to lend themselves better to public performance. Their structure is more secure. There is not so much left to chance. Improvisation provides young people with opportunities to explore subjects or methods of work in a more individual way. An experimental drama group in the north-east will work on a theme for three or four months before presenting it to the public. The youth organiser of the city where improvised and scripted plays were given in a recent festival, reports that clarity and audibility of speech and expressiveness in movement

[page 70]

were far more marked in improvised than in so-called formal drama, and that many young people enjoy the looser form and the opportunity to choose and work on subjects that have real relevance or significance for them.

The National Youth Theatre's survey makes a distinction between 'home-made' productions, usually based on improvisation and sometimes including film, plays written by members of the group, adaptations of novels and the production of straight plays. Impressive examples of all these kinds have been seen in the course of the survey. One thinks of an impressive play on Judge Jeffreys and the Western Assizes that was given by a group in the New Forest; of the skilful use of film by Teenage Theatre in their production of Great Expectations; and of the Northumberland group's outstanding production of the play on the conquest of Mexico - Shadow on the Sun.

This determination to find an authentic 'voice' is linked with the strong sense of social responsibility that runs through the work of many of the groups. The Basingstoke group, for example, during the last three summers have toured a play of their own composition, under the auspices of the Southern Regional Hospital Board, to mental hospitals in the county. At a performance given recently in their centre to fifty elderly mentally handicapped ladies these young people, between the ages of 17 and 20, not only invited the participation of their guests, but were able to handle most sensitively the unexpected interjections. When the princess had been restored from a goose, into which the magician had transformed her, into her own charming self, she said, 'So, you see, I am a princess after all'. A cry came from a member of the audience, 'I would like to be a princess', to which the girl replied without hesitation, 'And so you shall be', and placed her crown on the old lady's head.

Other examples of this profound interest in the contemporary world can be quoted from Cheshire, where a group was involved in a long and moving improvisation on a theme that sprang from an episode in a local factory involving trade union loyalty; and from groups in Devonshire and Northumberland who were seen working with almost alarming intensity in one case on a dramatised, and in the other on a danced, version of Louis Mac Niece's Prayer before Birth.

It must not be thought, however, that all the work seen was clear and impressive. There was a good deal of cavorting to romantic music of the kind that has been deprecated in secondary schools. In fact, it is when one sees twenty or thirty intelligent and attractive young people throwing themselves about in leotards and tights, under dark lights, to highly emotional music for considerable periods that one begins to wonder what has gone wrong with their education that they should feel the need for such emotional self-indulgence. Is this another kind of protest against over-verbalisation in

[page 71]

secondary education? Some children are clearly emotionally starved and intellectually over-sophisticated. Others are simply starved. Work in drama, at its best, can help to restore this imbalance. Perhaps, once again, we are faced with another example of the need for play, of which these young people have had inadequate opportunities. In the infant school it may take the form of mothers and fathers, Vikings and captive princesses; in the junior school it is still cowboys and Indians or Batman and Joker; for boys and girls with a grammar school education it may be a tussle between red and white corpuscles on the one side and germs on the other to the music of Bela Bartok, as was seen in one group; it may be the need for 'free' movement, as we defined it earlier, to help them find emotional release, a security in some kind of physical expression that is necessary long before they feel the need to face the disciplines of dance or drama and the more deliberate cultivation of their resources.

Members of youth theatre groups, whatever they are doing, work with the most remarkable enthusiasm and tremendous concentration. At evening classes and weekend courses we have been impressed at the vigour with which they throw themselves into their work, whether this was a training class in speech, movement and improvisation, or the rehearsal of a play.

Provision of drama for youth

We have been surprised to find how many members of youth drama groups are still at school and, in particular, how many of them are at grammar schools. This attraction of the theatre workshop for the more able boys and girls has been widely commented on by educationists and youth leaders. We must be candid in discussing this difficult question. It is presumably just as important that our more able young people should be catered for by our public services as the less able. But it would be lamentable if the remarkable work being done by the more able children in the specialist groups should draw attention away from the need to provide opportunities for the great numbers of young people who have been so fully described in the Newsom Report. This brings us back to the importance of providing drama and the other arts in the ordinary youth club. It was interesting to find that the young members of one club group, who rehearsed in the flat of the producer, always began the evening with a visit to the club for a cup of coffee with their friends. A little over fifty clubs enter the Drama Festival of the National Association of Boys' Clubs. The best three or four, which attend a final festival in London, are not as good as many of the theatre groups; but what is important is that they should have been given opportunities to do drama at all.

Future developments in youth service drama are clearly of great importance. We are not disposed to minimise the importance of the specialist clubs, but

[page 72]

we are concerned that opportunities shall be provided for, and help given to, the boys and girls to move on from their youth groups to adult groups. This is the point at which continuity constantly is broken. A young man in his early twenties, faced with the need to leave the drama group, saw the future as a wife, two children, a television set and slippers by the fire. Is horror at, but acceptance of, this vision of the future the inevitable outcome of all the work he had been doing at school and in his theatre group? Some advisers say that the adult groups are not good enough to encourage talented young people to join them. This is not an adequate answer.

There is one adviser who believes it is wrong to isolate young people from adults and deliberately includes young people in his adult courses and adults in his youth courses. The results are impressive and one realised that it was difficult to distinguish the many different ages of those taking part in the work. One of the most remarkable aspects, in fact, of a youth drama group is the wide age-range, and in some cases the wide range of ability, of the people present. A youth drama group can be an impressive example of vertical grouping.

There remains then the importance of developing drama as an activity in ordinary youth clubs. Problems of space are unavoidable. The provision of teacher-producers is urgent. It will be interesting to see whether the development of drama is helped by the inclusion of youth wings in new comprehensive schools.

Further opportunities for young people to have experience in all aspects of the theatre are provided by the National Youth Theatre. The main purpose of this organisation is to encourage young people to appreciate the arts of the theatre both as audience and as participants. Its members, who are chosen by audition and interview from very large numbers of applicants throughout the country, are those young people who participate in any aspect of the company's productions.

In the ten years of its existence the National Youth Theatre has based its policies on the production of commissioned plays and Shakespeare in the west-end of London, many parts of England and a number of European capitals. The policy of presenting plays in London has faced the director with considerable and predictable difficulties, and negotiations are now in hand for the acquisition of a permanent theatre.

The National Youth Theatre looks on itself with a good deal of justification as a pace-setter in the field of drama for young people and a provider of opportunities for the more gifted actors, although the director claims that character plays as big a part in selection as talent. Members of former companies, in describing the benefits they have gained in working with the

[page 73]

National Youth Theatre, tell of the challenge of acting in a proper theatre, of understanding and accepting real theatrical discipline; of the value of the opportunity to work in different departments of the theatre. They tell of what they have gained in self-reliance and from working with other young people from many different parts of the country, different social backgrounds and schools. It has been left to them to ensure that the theatre is full and the performance smooth. The experience has been a valuable stepping-stone between school and adult life.

The National Youth Theatre has taken on an immensely difficult task and it is not surprising that its policies should have given rise to a good deal of discussion. In the educational context there are those who question whether its methods over-emphasise theatrical qualities of presentation and cut across the kind of drama, more modest and exploratory, which is being developed in schools. Others claim that its methods run counter to the creative work in improvisation which is being established in various parts of the country. Others again suggest that the National Youth Theatre places excessive emphasis on a few much publicised productions and not enough on the provision of regular experience in drama for young people throughout the year.

Some of these criticisms may take insufficiently into account the limited objectives the National Youth Theatre has set itself. There can of course be no monopoly of good ideas in the arts: it is the variety of theories and experiments that makes so much drama so rich and rewarding an experience. The National Youth Theatre pursues with consistency and determination its policy of presenting public performances of classical and new plays by young people. In doing so it has won the devotion of many young participants and the support of many young audiences in this country and in many parts of Europe.

[page 74]

5 Drama in colleges of education and drama schools

Colleges of Education

At the time of writing there are 160 colleges of education in England. The majority of their students are being prepared to teach in primary schools. They enjoy considerable autonomy and courses vary from one college to another. Main courses give students an opportunity to study a subject at their own level. Curriculum courses are concerned with both subject matter and teaching methods. Education courses are concerned with the principles of education, the psychology of children and their development, the history of education, teaching aids, and much besides. Drama is to be found among the courses offered in about half the colleges in the country. It may be a department on its own with six lecturers, or it may receive little more than a passing reference in English or Education. But, on the whole, work in the colleges of education reflects and establishes patterns of education that are taking place in the schools.

Main courses

About a third of the colleges offer a main course in drama. The exact number is difficult to ascertain since some of the more vigorous drama departments are included within, and therefore listed under, the English departments.

In main courses students have opportunities to develop their interest in at least one subject for their own personal development. This argument is stated in most of the Institutes' handbooks and is repeated in the report of the Plowden committee:

'The practising teacher ... may have less opportunity, once he leaves college, for the systematic study of a subject for its own sake. Students need resources of knowledge and judgment upon which they can draw both as teachers and individuals, and these will not necessarily be related to the day-to-day work in the primary school.'
The amount of time devoted to a main course is usually about a day a week for two or three years. It is rarely more. Though this is long enough for much to be done it means at the same time that the selection of work has to be carefully made.

Students apply for a main course in drama for a variety of reasons and in many different ways. In some colleges they must decide in advance. This presupposes that they have already had some experience at school or acquired

[page 75]

from somewhere the inclination to study the subject. Others may not give it a thought if it has never come within their experience. In these colleges drama does not, on the whole, tend to attract many applicants. In some colleges heads of departments describe their subjects at meetings of first year students and make final selection by audition. This might seem to be selecting for the course the best actors and not the students who might benefit most from the course. There is a certain amount of 'selling' of subjects once the students have arrived at college. Some students turn to drama as an exciting new study: others turn away from it in the fear that reference to a course in drama on their certificate may not be acceptable when they look for a teaching post. If drama embodies certain aspects of teaching and an approach to many subjects it might be argued that selection needs to be made more carefully. This can only be discussed, however, in relationship to the other courses being offered to the students.

Main courses in drama are planned according to the average syllabus, to introduce students to the nature of dramatic and theatrical art. We take drama to include an understanding of the art of the actor, of dramatic literature, of the theatre and the theatre arts, in which we would include costume, scenery, lighting, and so on. Most syllabuses for a main course in drama include in one form of another work under these various headings:

(i) History of drama and development of the theatre. This usually includes a study of the main periods of dramatic history, with practical work on scenes from plays of that period. The extent of this practical work often depends upon the space available. The need to study different theatrical forms and audience-actor relationships is one of the reasons why drama departments are pressing for space where they can put these arrangements into practice.

(ii) A certain amount of critical work. Some main courses include such subjects as 'concepts of tragedy', 'audience psychology' and 'the shape of theatres through the ages'. The extent to which textual criticism of selected plays is carried out in any depth varies considerably.

(iii) Practical work in the theatre arts. This too often depends upon space and technical facilities that are available: workshop, wardrobe, and so on.

(iv) Drama and the art of acting. This will include mime, improvisation, movement, period dance, and perhaps some work in speech.

(v) A study of the contemporary professional theatre and of such media as film, television, radio. In some colleges there is a department wholly devoted to such studies.

(vi) Drama with, by, and for children and young people - what can be called the schools' curriculum or professional aspect of the subject.

[page 76]

Under these broad headings we have seen a great variety of interesting work. One college was accompanying a study of the medieval drama with some fascinating improvisations on medieval social themes. One was making a close study of how various emotions and situations are expressed in dance, in drama, and visually by means of photography. A college in the north, like many others, was working on a children's play composed by the students themselves.

In another college the third year students gave an impressive production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, while the first years gave a deeply moving programme of prose, verse and songs on the theme of individuality, entitled Stand up and shout No!

We have seen a great variety of plays from Gilgamesh to Pinter. We think of the women's college that produced Brand and Peer Gynt (at different ends of the hall) on the same evening; of admirable productions of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Cider with Rosie in the north of England; of Sophokles's Theban plays in the south-west.

The value of all this work for the personal development of the students will be clear. Rich opportunities are offered them to discover the nature of this varied form of artistic expression. Yet, as has been said, selection is of the greatest importance. A balance must be struck between breadth of reading and closeness of study. The real problem was admirably summed up by a principal who said that lecturers should talk less about satisfying the needs of the children and more about quickening their creative powers, and this is what he wanted his staff to do for their students.

Nevertheless, there are one or two aspects of this work that call for comment. First of all we detected in some of the work in movement and improvisation the same lack of clarity that we have found it necessary to deprecate in the schools. We have also found a tendency for lecturers to dominate the class of students with 'I want you to do this, I want you to do that'. In one college the lecturers had given the students a set of notes to help them on teaching practice. 'Always tell the children what to do', they said. 'Leave them to decide how to do it'. And later, 'Speech improvisation in early drama lessons should be spontaneous but firmly directed by the teacher'. Words mean different things to different people.

We are also inclined to think that a disproportionate amount of time is being given to the production of plays for performance in front of an audience. Many students have told us of the benefit they have derived from all that is involved in rehearsing a play until it is of the necessary standard, and there is no doubt that this is the sort of experience that can be of immense value for many students. But whether it is possible to involve all the students in a group

[page 77]

equally creatively and whether, in view of the limited amount of time that is at the disposal of a main course lecturer, the production of a play is worth the effort involved is very doubtful. Many lecturers speak of the amount of their own time that students are prepared to devote to rehearsals, but this is in itself not necessarily a good thing in view of all the experiences open to a student during his three years at college. Many people feel strongly about this issue on one side or the other, and we wish to emphasise only that a very considerable amount of time is being devoted in main courses throughout the country to the production of plays and that it is possible that this is not always the best thing for their overall development. One lecturer said herself that with the limited time available all that could be hoped of a college production was a 'semi-amateurish approach' and that it tended to make students more anxious to act than to teach.

Drama and English

We have seen some interesting main course work in drama carried out in close collaboration with the English departments. The relationship between English and drama is as crucial a question in colleges as it is in schools. Discussions are going on as to whether drama can be, or should be, included within the English department of a college or whether it should be independent. Three colleges where the drama is of a very high standard include it within their English departments. This arrangement appeared to work well in every case thanks to close relationships between the English and drama lecturers. In other colleges the principals and lecturers are concerned that the elements in drama not usually included in the English syllabus are sufficiently numerous to justify a separate department. In one college the principal prefers to keep English and drama as separate departments, as this enables students to take both as main subjects, but sometimes this arrangement is not permitted. In some colleges there are so many candidates for English as a main subject that it is convenient to be able to pass some on to the drama department. Another college feels that English itself is so wide in scope, including, in addition to the study of literature, such subjects as modes, manners, linguistics, and even various aspects of art and music, that it can well do without the additional burden of drama and theatre.

Some students, however, who have been good at English in their secondary schools, have acquired an excessively academic approach to the subject, and it is these who can sometimes be helped by drama. It is also true that a number of students who are good at drama, and who have been successful actors at school, sometimes need fortifying with more experience of writing and the wider background of literature than the drama department can provide. The head of an English department that includes some admirable drama said that his main course in literature was appropriate for students with the highest

[page 78]

intellectual ability, but that drama provides a rich emotional climate for some of his less able students. We feel that, integrated or not, there are sound educational reasons for close relationships to be established and maintained between English and drama. The arguments have been rehearsed in previous chapters and need not be repeated here. What is valid for pupils at school is also valid for students in training.

It is the opportunity offered for a closer examination of texts that has led many lecturers to welcome the establishment of a Bachelor of Education degree. 'Text', they say, 'lies at the root, it IS the root of all drama'. The subject of drama is bedevilled', said one, 'by mindlessness and waffle'.

On the other hand there are lecturers who fear that to put additional emphasis on academic aspects of the subject and less on curriculum will not ultimately be in the best interests of the children. Their fears are summed up in one syllabus for the B.Ed. degree, which says that 'students will be expected to delve more deeply into a somewhat narrower literary syllabus'.

Curriculum work in main courses

There is another extremely important aspect of a main course to be discussed. Main courses only occasionally include a curriculum or professional content. This might seem a dangerous omission. Many students told us that, fired with enthusiasm for drama by their lecturers, they were exceedingly anxious to teach it and, indeed, often attempted to do so on one of the earlier practices. But when they had, had no opportunity of discussing classroom methods, were rarely supervised by subject lecturers and not often helped by teachers in the schools, the results were disheartening and even disastrous.

In one college at least the whole of the third year main drama course is devoted to classroom work. At another college the curriculum element in the main course was so strong as to be the object of envy by students taking other main courses. Where a main course was being taken without a curriculum element, and no other opportunities were offered for discussion of the classroom aspects of drama, the students were usually extremely critical.

The philosophy of a main course, as an opportunity for a student to pursue the study of a subject at his own level, can be fully respected. But realistically the situation is as it has been described above. A student on a three year course is not likely to be able to divorce one side of work, and especially that side for which he has the greatest enthusiasm, from his vocation, which is the teaching of children and young people.

There are several implications to this. Firstly, it seems to be of the greatest importance that the manner in which drama is taken at main course level should have something in common with the way that students may be expected to take it as teachers in schools. This, in fact, is what often happens.

[page 79]

Some drama lecturers claim that it is quite possible to approach almost any aspect of drama with students, as they hope that the students will approach children in schools, even if the material is not the same. It is simply not valid, they say, for students to study a subject one way if they are to teach it another. This matter is particularly important for teachers in primary schools and, as the colleges are largely concerned with preparing students for this kind of teaching, the methods to which they become accustomed during their three years at college will be of the greatest relevance to the methods they will use in school.

It then follows that ways must be found of showing students the relationship between drama and the other subjects. Drama, as has been emphasised constantly, includes these relationships in its very nature. It is largely inseparable from English and from physical education, often can include a strong visual content, and sometimes involves music. It is not always in the context of the production of a play that these relationships can be best studied, since the form of a play tends to dictate their nature and extent. It is, in fact, in the curriculum aspects of drama, when the work is exploratory, that these relationships are best established.

It therefore seems to be of the greatest importance that all main course drama students should be given a curriculum course in drama in which the classroom aspects of the subject are fully studied. It is not a question of either/or, but of helping students to develop in a three year course as individuals, as artists and as teachers. It might well be argued that if all students intending to teach in primary schools are given some experience of English, art and craft, movement, music and number, they should be given experience of drama, since it is a kind of extension of all these subjects which, by general agreement, are a part of the equipment of every primary school teacher.

The handbook of the London Institute lays down very clearly this relationship between main and curriculum courses, it says:

'In the case of students training for work at the secondary school stage, and normally for those training for work at the junior/secondary stage, the main course must be appropriate to the curriculum of the secondary school and the college must provide a professional course in relation to it.'
One can see the difficulty of applying this relationship to infant and junior teachers, but the gap between a main course and preparation for infant or junior teaching seems to be an important one to bridge.

One college states specifically:

'The curriculum course is not a methodology course. The aim is to give students practical work that will enable them to understand drama in its

[page 80]

relationship both to themselves and to children. Guidance in teaching is given by discussion during sessions. ... The programme of work provides opportunities for students to discover their 'personal style', group sensitivity, physical resources, simple dance, use of words, social drama, drama in infant and junior schools and the bridge between child drama and the theatre.'
This might surely be accepted as a reasonable statement of what has to be covered in any course that is preparing a student to be a teacher and to use drama confidently in school.

To repeat: colleges have a high measure of autonomy. They offer a great variety of courses. It is difficult sometimes to distinguish between professional and curriculum courses, basic, foundation, college qualifying courses, and even 'supporting aesthetic studies'. The important factor seems to be that somewhere between the main course, where the student studies the higher reaches of the subject, and the education courses, where he studies the grass roots of his work as a teacher, he must be given opportunity to study the sheer basic professional requirement of knowing what to do about drama in a classroom of forty children on a blustery Monday morning.

We spoke during our work to many members of education departments. Their responsibilities are already considerable; but if it is to be accepted that drama is not a subject but an aspect of, or a way of teaching, other subjects, it seems reasonable to hope that some education lecturers should interest themselves in drama. One education lecturer, when asked about her attitude to drama, said, 'Of course we collaborate. Is not children's play the beginning of all drama?' And that is how it seems to us. If the production of King Lear in a secondary school needs specialist skills, there is still an enormous amount of classroom drama, of improvisation, of expressive movement, of speech in imaginative situations, which have a very big part to play in the development of a child's conceptual thinking. We have tried to show that the mimetic drive does not stop abruptly when a child moves from infant to junior school, nor when he goes from junior to secondary school. We play dramatically in one way when we are young; but we continue to play just as dramatically, though in different ways, when we are adults. This seems to be a field for the educationist, the psychologist and the anthropologist. The actor and the dramatist supply the form; they do not make the initial study.

Teaching practice

We have talked to many students about their experiences on teaching practice. Relationship between college and schools are often excellent, and the students, besides receiving considerable help from the staff, are encouraged to try their wings. Relationships in other cases are less happy and students

[page 81]

complain of lack of interest among the staff, superior attitudes among the staff, interruptions in halls, many of which appear to be designed as corridors, and even querulous attitudes on the part of heads. Eager to succeed but lacking experience, many students try to do too much too quickly and lose heart when the children do not respond predictably.

The following may be taken as a typical set of case-histories given us by second and third year students in a Midlands college.

The first student was given a class of eight-year-olds in a city school. As there was no hall she had to get the children to stack the desks and work with half the class at a time while the other half did some writing in the corridor. She used Noah and the ark as a theme and felt that she had made some progress with the children. The staff of the school evinced no interest.

The second student went to a secondary school which included on its staff a celebrated specialist in child drama. So she took drama discreetly in her classroom during English periods, lest she be thought to trespass on the field of an expert.

The third student worked in a county secondary school where the children had done no drama but took, in their first year, the BBC's programme Music, Movement and Mime. She took Shakespeare's England as a topic and was well supported in everything she did by headmaster and staff. She felt that she had made a positive but modest contribution to the life of the school and the education of the children.

A fourth went to a primary school that did 'free' drama. Unable to interest the young people in a project on Elizabethan England, he discarded the idea and told the class the story of Hamlet, which they proceeded to improvise with great enthusiasm. He heard that another teacher in the school had already worked on Troilus and Cressida!

A fifth student worked in a city primary school. The children had recently had a number of different teachers and were accustomed to being severely disciplined. She worked on qualities of movement to the Boutique Fantasque and took the children into the playground whenever weather permitted. She did not have time to develop movement into drama. The headmaster was interested in what she was trying to do, but the staff were sceptical.

A sixth student, in a secondary school, was told by her class teacher that drama was a waste of time. She was given an unstreamed first year class and found considerable difficulty in holding the attention of children of such various abilities. Eventually, she got the more able pupils interested in writing a play, but had little success in stopping the rest from brawling until the plays were written and they could watch them being performed. This student

[page 82]

thought that being an audience in a classroom was a valuable preliminary to being a member of an audience in a theatre.

The seventh student went to a girls' secondary school. Though the teacher respected the possibilities of drama, she never attempted it herself. The student found that the girls had been studying David Copperfield and understanding nothing. So they began to act some of the episodes, the girls became interested and the teacher, who was herself not long out of college, was grateful for the help.

Many more examples could be given; but these are enough to clarify two important points: the variety of work that students would like to do with children; and the variety of methods, points of view and attitudes to education they will meet in the schools. Students on teaching practice are faced with an artificial situation. They feel the need to get results from the children far more quickly than they would ever expect to do if they were class-teachers, although the conditions under which they are working make the likelihood of progress even less probable. They have not the time to get to know the children as they would under normal circumstances, and the problem of achieving something in drama, which of all subjects needs close sympathy between teacher and pupils, becomes even more acute. From this point of view longer 'block' practices are probably more satisfactory for school and children whatever disruptions they may make in the continuity of main courses and the life of the college.

The skill of the teacher

There is another aspect of the preparation of teachers for which the responsibility rests uncertainly between the education, English and perhaps the physical education departments. A teacher needs certain skills in common with an actor. He needs a reasonably strong voice, which he can use without strain, and clear speech. He must carry himself well and know how to present himself in a classroom. There is, therefore, an aspect of his professional technique, or skill, that lies in a synthesis of his work in speech as well as movement. He is at a great advantage if he knows how to 'get through' to children or, what is often more difficult, to detect when he is, or is not, 'getting through'. One is hesitant to say that this is specifically the work of one department rather than another since it seems to involve several. Many colleges offer a short course in speech for all first year students, but what seems to be wanted is something broader than this. From observation it can be said that students who have taken a course in drama rarely fail in communication with pupils whatever the content of their lesson or the nature of the work. Other teachers, without this ability to communicate, do not necessarily fail, but their task is often the greater. The last thing that anyone would

[page 83]

wish to do is to make every student an amateur actor, but it would seem to us that every student should be able to move well, speak clearly, tell a story and use words descriptively. Drama can make a contribution to this, but only in collaboration with lecturers from the English, physical education and Education departments. When this matter of the basic skills of a teacher is considered in the light of trends in secondary schools towards the teaching of groups of subjects, it is possible to share the anxiety of many lecturers that ways be found of quickening the interest of student-teachers in the arts that they in turn may quicken children.

Drama societies

These tend to flourish in many colleges. In one Midlands college the students' dramatic society is responsible for about eight productions a term, involving about 250 students in some kind of practical work. This is a third of the total roll. In another college the number is about the same - 20 a year. In both colleges there are vigorous main courses in drama, although in one of them the curriculum side of the work is weak. These student productions are often acted and directed by students who are not taking drama as a main or subsidiary course.

Friction occasionally arises between main course students and the students' dramatic society when there is pressure on limited accommodation and dual use of an already over-used hall. In one Church of England college this is avoided by the students doing most of their own productions in the new and spaciously designed chapel on themes with a strong ethical or moral quality. Principals are surely justified in feeling that drama societies are an essential part of the social and artistic life of a college and that collaboration between drama lecturers and main course drama students should be fruitful.


A good deal of interesting work is being done in main courses, but there is danger of the syllabus in some cases becoming too far removed from the students' professional preparation to be a teacher. Excessive time spent on producing plays emphasises an aspect of dramatic art that is less important for the prospective teacher than aspects of the subject that tend to be omitted. The syllabus needs to be planned with great care if it is to satisfy the two needs of the student, to explore a subject at a high level and to be able to incorporate aspects of that subject into the wide resources that he will need as a teacher. If the main course does not include a curriculum content it is important that this should be supplied in a curriculum course. There is also a good deal to be said for all teachers having some experience of curriculum drama if they are planning to teach in primary schools. It is also important that a curriculum investigation of drama should be accompanied by a con-

[page 84]

sideration of the nature of drama, in its fundamentally mimetic sense, by education departments.

Drama in colleges and schools is increasing throughout the country. Much of the teaching is not of a high standard and many of the mistakes that are being made are those that can be associated quite clearly with poor teaching. It is not, on the whole, time, money or equipment that is needed, but an application of what is known about good teaching to drama. This is why the colleges of education have a very considerable part to play. It is through them, through their relationship with the local schools, through the opportunity they have to run courses for practising teachers, and to set new teachers on the right track, that we can best hope for sense in what may easily become a senseless situation. No other agency is as well placed as the college of education to give the lead to the schools that will bring clarity and purpose to the work where it is now missing. It is more thought that is needed, not more money.

In-service training

It is much to be hoped that as the problems of expansion are resolved the colleges of education will be able to give a stronger lead in courses of inservice training in drama. The diploma course in drama at the University of Newcastle's Institute of Education, to be followed by a similar course at the Central School of Speech and Drama in September 1968, a supplementary course at the Rose Bruford Training College and a part-time two-year diploma course at the Durham Institute, are the only major contributions at present in this field.

Drama schools

Some drama schools offer a course for students intending to teach drama in schools. They are not recognised as colleges of education, but their diplomas are accepted for the time being for the award of qualified teacher status. These colleges are:

The New College of Speech or Drama, which has recently become a Barnet College of Further Education; the Central School of Speech and Drama, which runs parallel courses in professional stage training, stage management and speech therapy; the Northern School of Music, the future of which is bound up with extensive redevelopment plans in Manchester; and the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, where there is an integrated course in stage and teacher training. This three year course has now been accepted as the first part of a B.A. degree for selected students by the University of Canterbury.

Three colleges offer a two year course followed by a one year shortened course of professional training at a college of education. These are the Cardiff

[page 85]

College of Music and Drama and Cardiff College of Education, Dartington College of Arts and Rolle College, Exmouth, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trent Park College of Education. (The Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art is negotiating a similar arrangement.) The course at Dartington includes dance and drama and is in process of evolution. The dance and drama department is one of three that constitute the college of art. This makes available the resources of the other departments to the drama students, all of whom take dance, music, art and craft throughout their course. In their second year the students are able to handle production and choreography, the preparation of costume, making properties, as well as to sing songs of their own composition.

These courses for potential drama teachers should not be confused with courses in stage training, which are offered not only at the schools already mentioned, but also at such schools as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the E.15 Acting School, Drama Centre, London, and so on.

Further confusion is liable to arise from the fact that such establishments as LAMDA and the E.15 Acting School, which are devoted to training for the stage, are 'recognised' by the Department of Education and Science as 'efficient' establishments of Further Education, in addition to those establishments which offer a course for teachers as well as actors, such as the Central School of Speech and Drama, the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, and the New College of Speech and Drama, which offers a course for teachers only. Some students at unrecognised colleges may also receive a grant, since awards to students in colleges of further education from local education authorities are discretionary.

People are anxious to know how the students from the drama schools compare as teachers with those from colleges of education. This is impossible to answer. More and less able teachers are the result of both kinds of training and there is a tendency to generalise from one or two outstanding successes or failures. Perhaps the teachers from drama schools have the ability to communicate that has already been mentioned, but their training does not always have the scope that is needed in both primary and secondary schools.

The intake of each drama school varies between about 20 and 70 a year. All the drama schools have many hundreds of applicants and are able to be selective. Two of them were found, at a recent count, to have over 60 per cent of their students with at least one pass in GCE at 'A' level and 30 per cent with two or more.

It is sometimes said that the wastage from teachers' courses in drama schools is greater than from colleges of education, since students who have had a

[page 86]

teachers' course in drama tend, nevertheless, to go on the stage. There is no evidence of this. In July 1966, 27 teachers left the Central School. Twenty went directly to teaching posts, two to children's theatre companies and two were late in applying for posts as teachers. Six of the 20 teachers went into primary schools, although they had had no specific training. The Central School alone has 19 former students as drama lecturers in colleges of education in the London Institute and four vice-principals.

Drama schools are facing several problems. One is that their students are equipped mainly to teach in secondary schools, although their teaching qualification enables them to take posts in primary schools if, as often happens, they prefer to teach younger children. To provide an adequate course in primary education might well be beyond their resources.

Another problem is that of specialisation. Many primary and secondary school heads are crying out for expert guidance in drama. The few questionnaires to which we have already referred make this clear. The growth in size of secondary schools and colleges of education is likely to lead to the appointment of an increasing number of specialists in drama. But at the same time it is clear that educational thought is swinging away from specialisation in the secondary school, especially with the younger age-groups. Heads have expressed the need for specialists, but specialists who can play their part in the life of the school, participate perhaps in team-teaching and adapt their expertise to the needs of the less as well as the more able pupils. This is asking a lot of any teacher, especially those newly joining the profession. But the demands can be met when the teacher is as interested in teaching and the nature of young people as he is in his own subject. The danger of drama is that like certain other subjects it wins devotion and enthusiasm for its own nature. The outstanding teacher is the one who can combine his enthusiasm for drama with a determination and ability to adapt it to the needs of young people. When the young people are mature enough to adapt themselves to the needs of the art of the theatre, we are entering the field of true specialisation. It is the task of the drama schools to find ways of meeting these wide and insistent problems. Drama students may sometimes fail in clarity, but they rarely do so in enthusiasm.

Teaching drama

What is drama and who is to be responsible for teaching it? We have given considerable thought to this subject and asked for the views of many teachers, heads and principals.

First of all, perhaps, we should attempt to define what it is we are teaching. A lecturer at an institute of education asks what the following activities have in common: a critical study of the text of King Lear; an exercise in play

[page 87]

production; a performance of Oedipus Rex; improvised dancing to a record; practising stage make-up; play-writing; spontaneous play-making; a child playing with a doll; children playing cowboys and Indians; children acting the story of the Pied Piper.

A study group of a branch of the National Association of Teachers of English writes:

'... the study of drama is, in essence, the study of personal relationships through all the possible media, and the artificial recreation of such relationships in order to explore and demonstrate. It is essentially a practical subject needing uncluttered space and the liberating effect of informal clothing. It follows that all possible media must be used. Dance, movement, speech, improvisation, play-making and production - although all worthwhile means to an end - cannot by themselves constitute a complete drama course, which is much more concerned with what is implicit rather than explicit in expression.'
A recent meeting of London drama teachers defined drama in these words:
'Drama in education is a form of creative expression. As the basis of drama is no more than being able to speak and to move it is thus accessible as a means of expression to all children. In the very young child it takes the form of self-centred and instinctive imaginative play. As the child develops it becomes a unique form of creative contact between individuals using physical, vocal, visual and emotional resources. Such natural abilities can rarely be related and used constructively at one and the same time except in drama, which can also incorporate a number of skills in other subjects. This fusion of natural abilities and acquired skills makes dramatic work, with its immediacy of presentation, a vivid, direct and unique experience. As the active exploration of human relationships is essential to drama, it can be claimed to make an individual contribution to the full education of a human being.'
There are those who may quarrel with phrases in both these statements; some may feel that the claims are pitched a little high. But both are examples of what many teachers have claimed specifically or implied in their syllabuses or schemes of work. If criticism is to be made it is not of the ideal but of the extent to which reality falls short of the ideal. When school drama succeeds it is most impressive; but when it fails, it is a poor thing and conspicuous in its poverty. The inherent weaknesses and dangers of drama as a way of teaching will be evident in these statements. To claim that it is a means of exploring subjectively the whole field of human relationships is a tall order. The way is open to pretentiousness and huggermugger. The institute lecturer quoted above said that most drama lessons he saw were a preparation for drama rather than the act itself.

[page 88]

To sum up:

There is little to be said for specialist teachers of drama in primary schools or the early years of secondary schools, but a good deal to be said for all teachers in training getting some experience of what is meant by drama. This is clearly the responsibility of colleges of education, but the drama schools might well consider offering courses in primary school teaching to certain students.

The situation in secondary schools is a little more complex. Between the ages of eleven and eighteen, children mature and change in their attitude to drama. They become interested in new aspects of the subject. In addition to continuing work in improvisation, but of a vastly richer kind than they did when they were younger, they will be ready to study in depth, both critically and practically, the works of the master dramatists. The institute lecturer asked what the study of King Lear has in common with improvisation. We might well answer - referring to the definitions of drama that have been quoted - a study of human relationships. But it is arguable that the critical, textual, linguistic and practical problems thrown up by the plays of Shakespeare and the major dramatists are not of the kind that can be tackled by teachers who have had no special training in their college of education. This seems to be where the main or curriculum course makes its contribution, or the rather more specialist course at a drama school.

The needs of the young teacher are fairly clear: personal skill in the technique of teaching; use of the voice and the body; understanding of child psychology, child development, etc.; some knowledge of different theories about the learning process; classroom organisation; what is meant by play; how to teach the basic skills of reading and writing; something about numbers; and plenty of practical experience in the arts. These are the skills and equipment of all teachers in whatever kind of schools they are going to teach.

Opportunities for specialisation must then be provided. Some students will want to follow up their interests in music - still in a strictly professional or curriculum sense - some in art, in English, history, geography and drama. Opportunities for further specialisation are provided by the Bachelor in Education degree.

We have seen that there is no general agreement about the syllabus of a main course. Some will look for a strong element of English literature. Some feel that it should include plenty of opportunities for practical experience in the theatre arts. Some think it should include plenty of training in movement. These differing points of view are not, on the whole, either contradictory or mutually exclusive. So long as colleges have the opportunity to give their own emphasis to the course, students will have a choice. Teachers are anxious, however, that a close relationship between English and drama shall not

[page 89]

exclude a certain amount of work in movement nor a strong emphasis on movement exclude a collateral experience in language and literature.

The relationship between drama and English is being much discussed. The National Association for the Teaching of English, in its pamphlet on English in primary schools, says:

We consider drama to be an aesthetic activity in its own right which, on the whole, suffers from too close an identification with classroom 'English' and the literary drama.
This view is supported by many teachers of drama who feel that they are limited in their work by the crimping domination of English, and there are many teachers of English, with considerable interest in drama, who will agree with the authors of the pamphlet. Clearly, some English teaching needs broadening just as a good deal of drama teaching needs clarifying. Our own attitude to the situation will have emerged, perhaps, in this report. Teachers really cannot afford the luxury of deciding which of English, drama, movement and the arts 'they like best'. The arts are separate but closely related forms of expression of which we must give all children some experience. Young people, like the teachers, will acquire preferences according to their individual gifts; but the art of the teacher is not in cultivating his skill in any one art - although there is scope for this - but in knowing how to help boys and girls express themselves in the various arts and, in particular, in the art of which he or she is master. But this entails awareness of, even if not skill in the use of, the other arts. Thus, the question 'should drama come under English?' is virtually meaningless. Poetry, prose, drama, as well as forms of spoken and written English, are indivisible except for administrative reasons. But if there are administrative divisions between English and drama the bonds must be close. The most substantial piece of evidence we have on this important issue is the testimony of many teachers that they make far better progress in drama with pupils whom they take for English as well as drama than they do with those they take for drama only.

It is neither possible nor necessary to define the roles of teachers from colleges of education and the drama schools. A variety of educational backgrounds will suit the varying needs of the schools at a time when experiment is widespread and theory is vacillating. But a so-called specialist in drama must be an enthusiast. His task is not primarily to teach drama but to act as a kind of catalyst, to help other teachers on the staff and to provide, if necessary, technical expertise. Drama specialists are found among teachers of many different subjects. But if they are specialists in the sense of having taken a main course at a college of education, or a three year course at a drama school, they should be able to teach at least one other subject and show practical interest in an even wider spectrum of activities. Schools are in urgent need

[page 90]

of specialists who can relate their specialist knowledge to the general needs of the children and young people. If this argument is accepted there will be need to strengthen the quality of the work in drama in colleges of education and in education and the teaching of English at the drama schools.

Enthusiasm is sometimes its own enemy. Drama teachers are prone to let their enthusiasm for the subject run them into a position of isolation and parish pumpery. Drama of all subjects needs close relationships with other disciplines. Whether drama is to be a part of an English department, or whether it is to be a department on its own, seems to be a matter not of principle but of convenience. But if it is to be administratively independent, links with English and with physical education must be firmly established.

Drama is less a subject than an activity that draws its subject-matter from other disciplines and depends, in its more developed forms, on certain skills and techniques in its execution. The complexity of these skills may seem to constitute a subject. To produce a Greek tragedy, for example, may seem to require a body of expertise amounting to a subject. But while it is impossible to study drama without studying English, movement, history, psychology, and art, it is quite possible to study these subjects without mentioning drama at all. It may not be desirable to do so, but it is quite possible.

If drama teachers were to surrender the independence of their subject they would naturally look for an extension of these other subjects to cover drama. Some of the teachers of these other subjects may want none of it. That may be understandable; but we cannot have it both ways. What needs to be done is not to define the frontiers of a subject where no frontiers exist, but to establish clearly the contribution of dramatic activity to the growth and education of children no matter who assumes ultimate responsibility.

[page 91]

6 Theatre for children and children's theatre

The professional theatre

Some of the work discussed in this chapter formed the subject of a recent investigation into the provision of theatre for young people by the Arts Council of Great Britain. That report is being published at about the same time as this report; the present survey provides an opportunity to bring some of the material up-to-date and to discuss educational aspects of the work which it did not cover.

Paragraph 480 of the Newsom Report concludes with the following sentence:

The stimulation of interest in the professional theatre, and encouragement to feel that it is part of their own, not an alien, culture, is particularly important for the older boys and girls, if they are not to miss this source of enrichment of their adult lives.
The present survey has made clear that this interest is growing throughout the country. The number of visits paid by children individually in the evenings and in organised parties by day is increasing, and many teachers value them. It is also evident that the educational programmes now being developed by such companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatregoround and a number of repertory theatres are not only warmly welcomed by many schools but in some cases are influencing their work.

Parties of children have been visiting the theatre, usually for a special matinee of a 'suitable' play, for many years. These visits have not always been happy. In the twenties and thirties, when the main roles were often played by understudies 'to give them a break', the ribaldry with which classics were habitually received has stuck in the mind of many actors and created a lasting antipathy towards audiences of children which is only now being broken down in the younger actors. It is at last accepted that if a visit to a theatre is to be successful, the children and young people must be given the best of which that theatre is capable. The theatre has also discovered that boys and girls can respond sensitively and enthusiastically to a good performance and constitute an admirable audience.

The change in the pattern of children's theatre-going is two-fold. Firstly, we have the readiness of many local authorities to allow children to visit a far wider range of plays than merely the 'set texts'. Immediately after the war the

[page 92]

London County Council sought to free children's theatre-going from close association with classroom study and many authorities have now followed suit.

Secondly, we have the growing practice of visits from companies of professional actors to schools. This was first done at least as far back as the early nineteen-forties but it is only recently that repertory theatres have established a vigorous programme for awakening the interest of young people in the theatre and establishing close relationships with the schools.

Visits by professional actors to schools

Let us begin by considering what may well prove to be one of the most far-reaching projects, that of sending a small group of actors into the schools to work with the teachers and their pupils. Among the first to begin this kind of work was the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. It was the outcome of a policy to establish links between the theatre and all parts of the community, children in and out of school, youth, and all kinds of professional and industrial groups in the city. The scheme, as originally conceived, has had to be modified but the plan for theatre-in-education was established and has expanded. A producer/teacher was appointed in 1965 and began to work with children at first within the theatre. It was for reasons of space that in the first instance he took the classes outside the theatre. This led to the formation of a team of four, two men and two women, with experience both of teaching and acting, to take programmes to infant, junior and secondary schools. They were subsidised by the city council, not the local education authority, as a part of the general support of the theatre, although the collaboration of the education authority and of the local teachers was closely sought.

The organisation of the visits to schools varies in detail but the usual plan is for a group of four or five actors to visit a school for a whole day or several half days and to work with the children. The company decides upon a theme and beginning in the classrooms the actors work with the boys and girls on various exercises relevant to the theme, culminating in a simple improvised performance in which pupils and actors work together. The company provides any lights, sound effects or properties that are needed and shows the pupils how to use them. Recent themes to be treated have included the Tay Bridge disaster, Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic, the siege of Kenilworth, and the struggle for civic freedom in medieval Coventry.

A somewhat similar scheme, known as Theatre Vanguard, was launched by the Sheffield Playhouse in January 1967 as an extension of the Saturday morning sessions for young people which the director had been running for several years. For the trial run there was a programme for infants, consisting of a play by a local playwright; for juniors, an improvisation based on a gun-fight in

[page 93]

Long Branch saloon, Dodge City, 1879; and a programme for sixth forms based on excerpts from Edward II, The Birthday Party, Richard III, and Look Back in Anger. Visitors who saw all three programmes noticed the interesting development in the response of the children. The infants picked on details - 'I liked the dog,' 'I liked the bear.' Junior school children who collaborated with the actors were able to see the play as a whole. Sixth formers were of course able to discuss the plays they saw from many different points of view.

It is worth noting that the Sheffield Playhouse has developed a wide range of 'extra-curricular' activities of which children's theatre is one. The theatre organises choral concerts, meetings at men's clubs, at the university, and the college of education. Actors accept these additional activities as an expression of the vitality of the theatre and a part of their own artistic responsibilities.

School visits by actors from the Bristol Old Vic have been of a different kind. The theatre has now mounted three separate productions, plays of a semi-documentary kind, on the great train robbery, an incident in the Cyprus troubles, and on the subject of father-son relationships. They have played them on the floor of school halls to groups of fourth year pupils who have not on the whole been included in organised school parties to the theatre. The purpose of these tours has been to introduce young people to drama, to enable them to meet actors, and to give them an opportunity to discuss with actors and producer any aspect of the theatre and of the play that has just been given that interests them. More will be said later about these discussions between actors and audiences.

Yet another pattern of work is provided by the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatregoround. This is a mobile unit which tours in a converted London bus. It was formed with the intention of bringing drama to schools, youth clubs, colleges, community centres, housing estates, and factories, and of winning new audiences for the theatre.

The company is limited to about six actors drawn from the main company. They perform in places within reasonable distance of Stratford-an-Avon during the summer and of London in the winter. The company prefers the floor of a hall to a conventional stage but sometimes plays on a small octagonal arrangement of rostra of its own design. The actors wear jerseys and jeans, the actresses plain dresses, with simple additions to suggest character and period. Programmes have so far included The Battle of Agincourt - an abbreviated version of Henry V; The Hollow Crown; a condensed version of US; a survey of drama in short excerpts from Lysistrata to the present day, and Chekhov's The Proposal played in three different styles. Every programme ends with a discussion between producer, actors, and members of the audience.

Interesting work was taking place at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-an-Trent, though it was held back by administrative uncertainties which have now been

[page 94]

resolved. Members of the company made frequent visits to local schools and colleges and a programme of visits was carried out in the autumn of 1966 by a producer who had been trained as a teacher and who tried to give teachers the particular kind of help they wanted. Of considerable local influence were the plays, of a semi-documentary kind, which were 'created' by the producer, the company, and a local playwright on indigenous themes: Jock On The Go, The Staffordshire Rebels, The Jolly Potters, and The Knotty. Many teachers from as far afield as Lancashire expressed their debt to the methods of work that had been demonstrated at Stoke-on-Trent.

The problems of developing close relationships with the schools were vividly demonstrated at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. The company gives four matinee performances a week, usually for young people. There is no set pattern of work but the afternoon performances are usually some kind of demonstration related to the evening play if appropriate, but otherwise they consist of working sessions involving the young people as far as possible. The director is aware of the extreme difficulty of working practically with an audience of 250 pupils most of whom, through lack of space on the stage, are bound to be confined to their seats. Many, inevitably, 'opt out', sit back in their seats and let the afternoon slide past. Others 'go mad' at the opportunity offered for a kind of expression far more free than anything known at school. The director would like to work closely with both these groups but thinks that this can only be done by working with them in very small groups in their schools. It is for this kind of work that he wants to form a small group of about four actors. But for such a small company as this to work four or five afternoons a week with as few as thirty young people at a time is a hopelessly uneconomic proposition at its face value. Moreover he is aware of how little progress is likely to be made in one visit. Such problems as this, together with the need to establish far closer relationships with the teachers, need far more time and money than can be spared at the moment. But the nature of the work in this particular theatre is of the greatest possible interest.

What is to be thought of these interesting developments? Bluntly, there is grave danger of this kind of work getting out of hand. At a recent meeting of the Young People's Theatre section of the Council of Repertory Theatres it was revealed that between twenty and thirty repertory theatres are planning to form 'demonstration' groups to work in schools. It is doubtful whether they are all quite clear what it is they are to demonstrate, or why. Not all the work that is done by the theatre for children is contributing much to their education or their artistic appreciation.

The more general practice of inviting young people to visit the theatre on Saturday mornings for lectures, demonstrations, and a certain amount of practical work is less hazardous. When appropriate the programme is related

[page 95]

to whatever play happens to be running at the time. Sometimes the programme is of a more general kind. The subjects of four Saturday morning meetings at the Nottingham Playhouse during May 1967 were:

Light, sound, and team acting;
A comparison in practical terms of West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet; Music hall;
Writing and acting a script of a miser-to accompany the production of Molière's play.
At the same time a small group of actors were touring the schools with an abridged version of Julius Caesar.

The English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre have run various schemes to bring young people to the theatre. The present arrangement is to invite young people to attend a morning session at the theatre when classes and demonstrations of different kinds are given. Recent sessions were devoted to ways of producing Julius Caesar. In the afternoon a play specially staged for young people is given. Members of the morning audience may stay; others may come. It emerged from a questionnaire sent to secondary schools in and around London that the play most young people wanted to see was Roots followed by Othello; a certain amount of resentment was also expressed at the few opportunities that exist in London for young people to see the plays of Shakespeare well staged at moderate prices.

Another variety of theatre visiting is the School Drama Day such has been established at the Oxford and Salisbury Playhouses. The morning session usually includes talks by the director and stage-manager, practical demonstrations, and a 'staged' rehearsal of a scene from the play that is to be given in the afternoon. The director of the Oxford Playhouse makes few concessions to the young people in his choice of play. The most popular in recent months was Volpone.

An interesting example of a wide and imaginative programme of drama for schools is provided by the Palace Theatre, Watford. Work is being established by a young actor/producer, who was trained as a teacher, under five headings:

(i) Visits to schools with a small group of professional actors. The present theme is Roman Britain.
(ii) Provision of leisure time activity in drama for young people. This includes production, filming, creation of a documentary play on Watford, play readings and the establishment of an arts centre.
(iii) Children's theatre workshops one or two evenings a week.
(iv) Workshops for teachers, sometimes junior, sometimes senior. The present attendance at a weekly meeting is 35.
(v) Demonstration work in schools with teachers who have attended the workshops.

[page 96]

Theatre visiting by young people

On the subject of the visits by children and young people to performances in theatres, the Arts Council's enquiry pointed out the reasons why school matinees have fallen from favour. In our view school matinees usually do not commend themselves as the best way of introducing young people to the theatre. There are, however, exceptions. School matinees at the National Theatre are enjoyed by actors and audience alike; and a regular series of special matinees, planned in conjunction with the local education authority, has been run at the Nottingham Playhouse since the theatre was opened in 1948. Many theatres are introducing schemes to encourage young people to visit evening performances by offering seats at reduced prices. In terms of numbers a student ticket scheme is proving to be very successful at the Royal Court Theatre. The Northumberland authority runs a ticket voucher scheme to encourage young people to buy their own seats. When young people are given at reduced prices seats that could have been bought by members of the general public at full price, the theatre will suffer a loss and there will be need of a subsidy. But when the young people are filling seats that would otherwise have been empty, the theatre gains in every respect.

An interesting example of subsidy to a theatre to permit a reduction in the price of seats for young people comes from the new audiences scheme at the National Theatre. Money has been made available by an industrial company and enables the theatre to price the house at 7s. 6d. [37½p], 5s. 0d. [25p], and 2s. 6d [12½p]. The scheme is run on a season ticket basis so that every student sees three plays. Although the offer is at present restricted to young people from sixth forms, colleges of education, art and drama schools, and the like, the problem arises as to whether it is best to write off a complete performance for such an audience or to infiltrate them in small groups into public performances.

Relationship of theatres and schools

If the present trend of practical collaboration between theatres and schools is to continue, the closest consultations will have to be established between them and local authorities, and between head and staff within each school. Some interesting and valuable work has already been done; but other theatres, following what is in danger of becoming a fashion, have sent companies of actors into school and invited young people to the theatre with only the most slender experience of this kind of work. The results are not always happy. When children are invited to participate - another dangerously fashionable word - vociferously, as happened recently in one production for children in a London theatre, producers are only encouraging the least desirable aspects of theatre-going and making it the more difficult for the actors, at their next visit, to win their silent attention. There is no virtue in encouraging children to yell. The theatre involves a different kind of empathy

[page 97]

to a football match. Participation does not always require physical or vocal involvement in the action.

One must applaud the responsible attitude of many theatres towards the creation of new audiences, young and old; but gains will not be permanent if the attitude of theatres is cynical and children are encouraged to visit the theatre simply to fill empty seats. Nor must theatres send actors into schools with the idea that it is for them to brighten education. The only basis for a permanent arrangement can be mutual agreement on what trained theatre people can do for schools that the schools cannot do for themselves. Far more discussion on this crucial issue is necessary than seems hitherto to have taken place.

What do schools want from actors? The producer/teacher at Stoke-an-Trent reported that teachers in local schools wanted help of many different kinds: some young teachers wanted help in using the hall; others in surmounting the physical limitations of classrooms; while yet others wanted help in the use of drama for such lessons as history, geography, and scripture. Is this the sort of help that professional actors can give? Such practical problems seem to be far more the responsibility of the colleges of education and are likely to be best met by courses of in-service training. Moreover the physical limitations of the school may be such as to inhibit actors who on the whole have not been trained as teachers. Classrooms are often too small for work in drama; the hall is not available; the timetable is not sufficiently flexible to release the pupils most likely to benefit from work with actors or for long enough to make the work viable. In secondary schools actors have come up against problems caused by examinations, as well as inflexible timetables and lack of space.

Many of these difficulties can be resolved when the heads and teachers know exactly why the actors have come and what they are likely to contribute to the education of the young people. Indeed, until there has been some serious thinking about drama in school it is impossible for the head, or anyone else, to decide which children are likely most to profit from working with actors, for how long, and under what conditions. It is important to experiment and to gather material from close observation; but the honeymoon period is nearly over.

The more sensitive producers are emphatic that they do not want to impose their ideas on the schools but to help schools develop their own work. Teachers therefore must want to collaborate. It is not without significance that the most successful classroom work we have seen has been done in nearly every case by an actor or producer who was trained as a teacher. But these same teacher/actor/producers are most anxious that the work in theatre in education should not be separated from the main work of the

[page 98]

company. They look for a close integration of actors and services, and they realise that although many actors are already hard pressed, ways must be found of giving them more opportunities to talk with teachers. The theatrical profession will then recognise that for all the apparent economic security of the teaching profession compared with their own, the task of a teacher is an immensely difficult one and does not have the immediate rewards that are so great an encouragement to the actor.

Actors have much in their favour: the very nature of their art has developed in many of them considerable qualities of sensibility towards other people and the ability to get through to strangers. This will be valuable to them in schools especially when they go into a classroom and try to work with children. And these qualities of sensitivity will be particularly necessary in primary schools. A stranger in a classroom can provide an occasion for the children. When the stranger joins them in 'acting' the experience can be memorable and disturbing. It seems to be of the greatest importance that actors going into primary schools should be reasonably familiar with the philosophy of primary education and in broad terms the manner in which drama, movement, and the expressive arts are handled in the school. It would also appear that a number of visits are necessary; that quick results should not be expected; and that the visits should be integrated as far as possible into the work of the class or of the school. For all this, infinite time and trouble are needed in preparation.

It is nevertheless encouraging to see how far the actors have got in a comparatively short space of time. Many companies have gone far to reduce their approach to drama to proportions that make sense in a school hall without in any way lowering their standards. They can give pupils a sense of achievement. They can demonstrate how the dramatic act can take place in an open space in the clear light of day with actors in jerseys and jeans. Illusion is complete. Drama becomes a means of making a profound personal comment on facts, events, ideas, relationships that are the very stuff of human existence. They can demonstrate a highly developed form of play in the children's own terms.

An interesting example of the occasional failure of actors to understand children occurs from time to time in discussions at the end of the performance. The impact of a group of professional actors playing in a school is considerable in itself. When their play is emotional the impact is increased. When they act, as they usually do, on the floor of the hall without distancing between players and audience, the impact can be almost overwhelming. Not only are many children unused to talking about emotional experiences of an unfamiliar kind, but they are often unable to muster their thoughts or rationalise their feelings after having been deeply moved. An attempted discussion after a performance of a play on the Vietnam war at a boys' school was sufficiently disastrous to come near destroying all that the play had achieved. Even adults have been known to

[page 99]

suggest that discussions would be more profitable at a later date when emotions can be recollected in tranquillity. If the answer to this and many of the comments that have been made above is that more time and so more money are needed, one can only say that the work of the theatre will have to be tailored to the amount that is available. Projects should not be started that cannot be adequately carried through.

Young people as audiences

One of the actors in the Bristol Old Vic company kept a record of one of the company's tours to schools. He found that the willingness of children to talk depended on the way in which English and drama were taught in the school. The young people mentioned constantly their pleasure at being in their own hall where they were in familiar surroundings. They enjoyed the simple manner of staging and the almost complete absence of dressing-up. Theatregoround found the same reactions. This rejection of the traditional colour and glamour of the theatre is perhaps surprising. We were interested by the constant use by the young people of the word 'real' in their comments. They said they preferred a theatrical to a television performance because it was 'more real', even when the scenery was obviously painted or even non-existent, and the costumes were perfunctory. It had moved them more deeply than anything they had seen on TV. The comparison is not altogether just but their reaction is convincing. Is not this a recognition of the difference of the two media? The visual image does not carry emotion in the way that the sound image does, backed by the full empathy of a theatrical performance. Marshall McCluan has said that Hitler would never have got to power on television.

The Unicorn Theatre for Children, which for many years has been visiting schools to give performances of a more or less traditional kind, has been conducting a survey of audience reactions which has revealed the following interesting distinction between the response of children to a play in theatre and in school.

Theatre audiences, it is claimed, readily accept the conventions of the theatre; they listen more intently, they laugh more readily, they react more subtly. They quickly cultivate a more sophisticated response to the nature of theatrical experience and the ability to see a play as a whole.

School audiences come to a performance with higher expectations. The idea of seeing a play is often more stimulating than the play itself. They are less predictable in their reactions and less easy to control. Their responses are generally far less subtle and the only humour that makes them laugh is physical. When they do laugh it is very 'full-throated'. They tend to become inattentive but they express appreciation more openly.

[page 100]

The survey has also revealed the distinction between attention and absorption. The former can be sustained by visually interesting objects and movements. Absorption depends upon involvement in the drama and sympathy with the characters.

Some of these distinctions can be explained by the fact that theatres are usually more comfortable than school halls; that children who visit the theatre usually do so regularly and are often with their parents. But the analysis is of the greatest interest.

There have been considerable developments in this work throughout the country. The Arts Council grants have risen substantially in recent years and it has now made a small sum available exclusively for children's theatre. Actors no longer join children's theatres to fill-in between engagements that carry more prestige. Articles about children's theatre and educational drama now appear in the national press, and critics are occasionally willing to visit a performance being given to children.

The interest of the professional theatre in education and children's audience constitutes a small explosion. Some of the dangers have been mentioned. But there are bound to be difficulties in so new and expanding a field of activity. What is encouraging is that so much is as good as it is.

Children's theatres

It might be valuable to distinguish some of the organisations concerned with children's theatre from the rather more educational work that has so far been discussed, though the distinctions are often blurred.

The children's theatre and educational activities of the repertory theatres have resulted in the formation of the Young People's Theatre section of the Council of Repertory Theatres (CORT), an organisation of non-profit distributing theatre companies. Responsibility for discussion and dissemination of news and opinion among the country's forty or fifty amateur children's theatre companies and the few professional companies is the responsibility of the British Children's Theatre Association. This organisation has played a large part in the formation of the Association internationale du theatre pour les enfants et la jeunesse - ASITEJ.

The terms of reference of the Young People's Theatre Panel of the Arts Council of Great Britain is 'to advise the Council on all matters connected with young people's theatre'. The panel is thus a body to which everything concerning the theatre for young people would be referred. Its powers are limited to making recommendations on policy, many of which would, however, have financial implications, and would consequently also be considered by other

[page 101]

committees. Of the grants for the current year, 1967/68, 90,000 has been allocated for professional theatre for young people.

At a meeting jointly sponsored by the Council of Repertory Theatres and the British Children's Theatre Association in the autumn of 1966, the following resolution was passed:

In view of the increasing activities and importance of Theatre for Children and Youth, it was felt that there is an urgent need for a body to concern itself with the coordination, correlation, and development of all aspects of the work.
This has led to the formation of the National Council of Theatre for Young People.

Professional children's theatre companies have for many years been in the hands of a small number of pertinacious enthusiasts. Their work, quite properly, has developed in different directions. The Unicorn Theatre for Children which under a variety of names has been in existence since 1948 has maintained up to six companies in the field at the same time. They have toured the country with programmes of plays for different age-groups. Its emphasis has been on performance in the more conventional though certainly not in the derogatory sense. At the time of writing it looks as though the long cherished ambition of its director to establish a permanent theatre for children in the centre of London is to be achieved. The British Dance Drama Theatre has introduced children in schools to another aspect of theatrical art. Theatre Centre has been in existence since 1954. Its emphasis has been increasingly educational. Performances to children and young people are given on the floor of the hall and every attempt is made to involve them practically and imaginatively in the performance. In a sense the organisation has pioneered the kind of work that some of the repertory theatres are taking up. The director and his assistants have a long programme of visits and courses; they are now developing links between colleges of education and the visit of one of the organisation's companies to that area. It is in the true sense a centre from which much work of great interest can be expected.

Of the other professional children's theatres mention should be made of the Troupe Française, an organisation that sends out tours of French classics for audiences of young people throughout the country. A recent tour of Le Barbier de Seville was played by a French company with a refreshing sense of style.

Finally, something should be said about the aesthetic aspects of children's theatre. In the years immediately after the war when two companies in particular were giving performances of the classics to audiences of children, and educational visits as we know them now were for many people a memory,

[page 102]

the Glyndebourne company which played largely in school halls was inhibited by their inadequate facilities, and the Young Vic was constantly in trouble through the expense of doing children's performances in public theatres. The contradictions seemed to be irreconcilable and ideal conditions hard to find. Yet many people felt, and still feel, that whatever excellencies can be achieved under poor conditions, the theatre is an experience that needs a stage where the actors and the decor can be shown to advantage and a hall or theatre where actor-audience relationships can assist rather than frustrate the total experience.

It is owing to these difficulties that recent practice has tended to develop in the two ways that have been described - the visit by actors to schools and the visit by children to theatres. Since the war, one has been pioneered largely by Theatre Centre, one by Unicorn Theatre, although these fields of work have been by no means exclusive. The former will be of particular interest to the educational, the other to the theatrical profession. The former kind of work has been fully described. It is in the value and the nature of the aesthetic and artistic experience that we need more confidence - and more information.

[page 103]

7 Other organisations concerned with teaching drama

Among the most influential people in educational drama, outside the schools and colleges, are probably the drama advisers, 51 of whom have been appointed by local education authorities. Some of them have assistants. Some advisers are fully employed by their authority but in some cases the form of their original employment by county drama committees survives, and in this case the adviser often finds it difficult to enter schools.

There can be little doubt of the contribution the advisers have made to the development of drama, and most of them have left the mark of their enthusiasm and special interests on the drama in their area. In most cases their responsibilities cover every manifestation of drama from infant to adult. Since they undertake a very great deal of work in the form of demonstration and instruction, as well as acting as advisers and consultants to the authority on any aspect of drama that might arise, most of them are gravely overworked. Nevertheless the breadth of their interests puts them in an ideal position to help the development of drama in its relationships with other subjects through collaboration with other specialist inspectors or advisers in their area; and chronologically, by doing what they can to ensure that young people have opportunities to progress from school to youth groups, from youth into adult societies where they can make a continuing contribution to dramatic art.

Of national organisations that cover the whole field of drama there is firstly the British Drama League. Though principally concerned with adult rather than with school drama, it organises a valuable ten week course every summer for teachers. Its admirable library and invaluable information service are of course available to all teachers who are members of the League. Thanks to the beneficence of the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Pilgrim Trust the League has been able to renovate its premises and provide a home for a number of theatrical organisations such as the Council of Repertory Theatres, the Theatres Advisory Council, and the Association of British Theatre Technicians, which are all now embraced by the British Theatre Centre.

The Junior Drama League, with branches in various parts of the country, though strongest in London, has provided interesting holiday courses for young people and on two occasions sent companies to international youth drama festivals abroad.

[page 104]

The Standing Conference of Drama Associations recently established an advisory panel which prepared an important set of proposals covering the whole field of drama seen as a continuing process from school into adult life. The conference is now seeking ways to implement these proposals, to broaden the basis of its membership to include university drama departments, colleges of education and further education, drama schools and other organisations of varying interest, and to give a more vigorous lead in the whole field of amateur drama.

There is, however, some danger of a proliferation of smaller organisations concerned with one aspect or another of speech and drama. Each has abundant justification for existence and provides a platform for some specialist area of activity. Perhaps the most potentially significant is the newly formed Speech and Drama panel of the Associations of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education (ATCDE), a professional body of college and institute lecturers, which is at present looking closely at the whole problem of helping young teachers to teach drama.

The National Association for the Teaching of English has been giving its attention to the responsibility of English teachers for drama and the place of drama in an English syllabus. This is a crucial subject in which the whole future of the teaching of English and drama and the dependent problem of the relationships between speech and drama is concerned. We shall say something about this matter in the concluding section of this report.

The Educational Drama Association is a long established organisation that in its day has made a great contribution to the teaching of drama, especially in primary schools.

Two organisations are particularly concerned with the teaching of speech. The Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama is a professional organisation for all those who hold various diplomas and certificates in speech and dramatic art. It is concerned with promoting the subject and safeguarding the professional interests of its members. The English Speaking Board is more concerned with examinations in speech and has made a significant contribution to this subject which has become one of great importance since the establishment of compulsory examinations in spoken English in the Certificate of Secondary Education of various boards.

Two other organisations are in a position to make contributions to various aspects of educational drama. The Drama Board is an examining body for tutors in non-professional drama. A high proportion of the candidates taking the board's examination are teachers. The Guild of Drama Adjudicators is another professional body whose members, particularly when they are speaking at festivals of young people's or youth drama, have great opportunities

[page 105]

for encouragement, and even more for establishing standards and methods of work.

A few words must be said about the graded examinations in speech and drama that are offered by various examining bodies. Though many teachers hold one or other of these diplomas of various grades the work of these examining bodies has not been included within our terms of reference. It is known, however, that at least one of the examining Boards is interested in ways in which its examinations might be made more helpful to teachers. None of these diplomas is accepted by the Burnham Committee as an accepted qualification for salary purposes.

Finally, a word about training for the professional stage. There does not appear to be need for any special provision in secondary schools for training for the acting profession, apart from the responsibility of schools to provide opportunities for gifted pupils as was suggested in the chapter on secondary schools. Young people intending to become professional actors and actresses need a good general education up to O or A level in the General Certificate of Education. They can then move to a two or three year course in vocational training at one of the drama schools that were mentioned in a previous chapter. Students interested in the visual side of theatrical art can take courses in theatrical design offered by schools and colleges of art at Wimbledon, Nottingham, Croydon, Birmingham, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London.

Training for ballet and dance must begin earlier and is provided for by training at special schools which do not fall within the scope of this survey.

The work of the universities falls outside our responsibilities but no picture of educational drama would be complete without reference to the departments of drama that have been formed at the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, and Hull. With professors including distinguished names in theatrical scholarship and the professional theatre, one can hope for considerable developments in the integrating of academic standards with practical work in drama and the theatre arts.

Of far greater immediate relevance to the area covered by our survey is the work in drama in technical colleges and colleges of further education. Courses in these colleges are of two kinds: drama in liberal studies and full-time courses in drama of one and two years duration for young people above the statutory school leaving age. Of the former little can be said: their problems need closer investigation than has been possible in this survey. Of the full-time courses, a comparatively recent growth, at least twelve are known to have been established in various parts of the country. If they can show that they are supplying a need, they may well complement sixth form colleges and help to prepare students for the colleges of education.

[page 106]

8 Conclusions

We have been impressed by the importance of providing opportunities for dramatic play in nursery and infant schools. By opportunities we mean encouragement, through the environment in terms of time, space, equipment. Encouragement means an understanding of a child's need to play. Time implies that a child may want to play at any time of the day and that he may want to continue his play for a short time or for quite a considerable period. Space is needed in classrooms, in corridors, on the verandah, in all kinds of places inside and outside the school. Equipment includes blocks, rostra, packing-cases, and clothes and materials for dressing-up, as well as an almost endless variety of other oddments.

Children's play will be enriched by such resources as they may acquire in movement, in language, in sound and music, by their familiarity with poetry and narrative literature.

While dramatic play seems to be an important means of helping a child develop his powers of conceptual thinking, it is particularly important that teachers should take every opportunity to get children used to putting ideas, thoughts, feelings, and observations into words.

The educational value of dramatic play does not diminish in the junior school but its form will change as the children mature. In the junior school children show an increasing ability to use words expressively, to move, to use their imagination, to select, to create and sustain a consistent narrative in dramatic form.

As from infant to junior, so from junior to secondary: the form of drama changes, its validity remains. The range of material becomes wider, its treatment more thorough.

Drama springs from many different sources; it may be from work in movement: from the exploration of some experience in improvisation; from an episode in literature; from response to music; from a scene in history or geography that seems to suggest further investigation. Comparatively, too little time is spent on the study of plays.

As the quality and form of drama change with the growth of the child, so its nature changes according to his ability. Both the more academically gifted boys and girls, and the average and the less able, all stand to benefit from drama,

[page 107]

though for different reasons. We have been particularly impressed by the quality of work in unstreamed classes and vertical grouping in drama lessons.

Improvisation lies at the heart of school drama. Its contribution to the growth of children can be considerable. But a great deal of improvisation is shapeless and without clear purpose. Its aims are in urgent need of clarification.

Much of the uncertainty in improvisation lies in the widespread use of movement by teachers of drama without a clear idea of its nature. Too often it is thought to be 'good for the children' and to help their 'self-expression'. Much movement is done to music which is often mishandled so that it provides little in the way of musical, physical, or dramatic experience.

It is nevertheless important that drama should never be divorced from the linguistic and physical development of the children.

The claim that drama can contribute to self-discovery, personal and emotional development, and human relationships, has been substantiated by much of the admirable work we have seen and the testimony of many heads. But a good deal of the work going on in schools does not live up to claims that are made for it. Evidence suggests that drama, far from sanctioning noise and exhibitionism, helps to improve the behaviour of young people.

Many drama teachers claim that their subject depends upon the integration of the arts and of subjects on the curriculum. In many schools these relationships could well be developed.

Drama in many schools fails in development through excessive domination by the teacher. No real exploration of any area of human experience can be achieved by children or young people when the area to be explored, and in many cases the manner in which it is to be explored, have been arbitrarily imposed.

Many teachers find it difficult to make a start with drama; but once this has been done, drama is self-generating in ideas.

There is reason to lament the linguistic impoverishment of a great deal of improvised drama; but the growing amount of time that is being given in drama schools and colleges of education to the speaking of poetry is very encouraging and should soon be evident in a more lively approach to spoken poetry in schools. Books and libraries are often inadequately used.

The value of improvisation should not divert attention from the extreme importance of studying plays for their own sake. The use of language, the depiction of character, the expression of ideas, and the development of narrative in dramatic form, are a substantial part of English. Dramatic literature is an art form in its own right.

[page 108]

Some people believe that the distinction between educational drama and the art of the theatre, involving the actor and producer's responsibility for interpreting a play, is greater than we have suggested. We tend to believe that the former, valid in its own right, is at the same time a corollary of, and even a preparation for, the latter.

We have seen many admirable examples of the school play. Success and value of a public performance are the outcome of a genuine study of dramatic art both in its literary and improvised aspects in the school, a lively interest by the young people in the chosen play, and a modesty in the organisation of the performance.

The abilities of young people to design, compose, and execute, when given encouragement and incentive, are remarkable.

There is a growing number of young people who are anxious to develop their interest in drama outside school hours. Their interests are being increasingly provided for in theatre workshops where work of great interest is being done.

It is important that the provision of theatre workshops should not divert the youth service from the need to provide increasing opportunities for young people to join classes in drama in youth clubs. Space and producers are scarce, but the need is evident.

The social awareness of many young people in schools and youth theatre workshops, and their anxiety to express their attitude to life in dramatic form and through drama, are very impressive.

In the development of educational drama, the role of the colleges of education is of crucial importance. It is there that we must look for leadership and clarification of those aspects of the work that remain obscure and unsatisfactory.

There is urgent need for the colleges to give close thought to the nature of drama in their main courses and the relationship of these courses with the curriculum aspects of the subject. Enthusiasm to teach drama with inadequate attention to how this can be done is leading to disappointment and frustration in young teachers.

The growing interest of the professional theatre in education is of the greatest significance. Enthusiasm must now be tempered with policy. The theatre must seek out the ways in which it can make its particular contribution to educational practice, and the schools must decide upon the nature of the help they want from professional actors and producers.

Many teachers are anxious to help children and young people express themselves through the arts. Lecturers in colleges of education are doing the same for their students. It is therefore important that continuity from junior to

[page 109]

secondary school, from secondary to youth, and from youth to adult life should be established and maintained in all kinds of ways.

Before a teacher can be a good teacher of drama, he must be a good teacher.

The reasons for the close affinity needed between teachers of drama and English are not based on tradition but on the importance of the word, written and spoken, as a means of clarifying the inner image and establishing exact means of thought and communication in certain areas of experience. This does not preclude the importance of non-verbal forms of expression for clarifying and communicating other experiences.

While we have every sympathy with heads and principals who are alarmed by the number of subjects that must be covered by a liberal curriculum, and whatever the demands of examination syllabuses, the survey has suggested that in terms of the full development of a human being the arts of music, dancing, drama, literature, and the craft and visual arts, are as important at one end of the educational spectrum as science and mathematics are at the other. The two worlds are not contradictory but complementary. We do not wish that anything we have said should be taken as a rejection of the sciences. But we believe that the arts are no less important for the growth of an individual and the future of humanity.

We do not wish to make a final pronouncement as to whether drama is a subject or not. We hope we have given material that will help teachers to decide for themselves. All that can be said in our present state of understanding is that a case can be made for its integrity as a subject. But if this were in any way to minimise the field of English teaching, in view of the developments that are taking place in English, education as a whole might be the loser. An example might perhaps be drawn from the field of physical education. It might be asked whether teachers of drama should 'take' movement. The answer is that they must do a certain amount of movement, just as they must do a certain amount of English. But whether they accept a primary responsibility for movement, or for English, will depend upon the views of teachers of physical education and English on the scope of their subjects. This is not in fact a question of principle but of a group of teachers working out dispassionately what they believe the pupils need, and which of them are qualified, or able to teach the various subjects, particularly in the areas of overlap.

One of the most encouraging features of educational drama is the growing recognition that the subject can benefit from the provision of its own accommodation. The open planning of new primary schools provides admirable opportunities for much of the kind of mimetic play and drama that one expects to find in primary schools, while the bigger classrooms for English and the studio or workshop, simply equipped for use by teachers of English, drama,

[page 110]

dance and music, are an admirable provision in secondary schools and colleges.

To look at this one area of education, drama, from the cradle to the threshold of adult life, as we have tried to sketch it in this Report, is to be impressed by the continuity of the process. The strands weave in and out, the form and texture of our experience of drama change, but if they are broken the health of the individual, and so of the community, can be endangered; these several strands will emerge again in adult life and assume surprising and sometimes less socially acceptable forms.

Children at play re-express those aspects of the world which they recognise and which are significant for them, in symbolic form. It seems to us that education is a continuing process of helping children to find the appropriate expression for their thoughts and feelings. We help them to use their bodies in dance; to articulate in sound by use of the voice in speech and song; to communicate in visual symbols in painting, sculpture and the written word; and in that marvellous organisation of the known world of which the language is mathematics. And as they express they achieve an understanding and hence a mastery of what their thoughts and feelings are expressing, and come to know more of themselves in the process.

The artist is the man who is skilful in the use of those symbols which children explore in their own way and at their own level, at first freely, then with greater discipline, as a part of their education. The child of nine who wrote 'And a mist came down and separated autumn from winter', may be ready to hear what adult poets like Clare and Wordsworth and Thompson have written after a nature walk. The young people who commented on the feet of Christ as they drove in the nails should be ready to appreciate the York play of the Buffetting of Christ. The girls who made their own choreography to the Prince Igor dances should be shown what Fokine did with the music. The showing may be a revelation, but the children will not need to be ashamed of their own efforts. If we admit that the activities we have described as drama have any educational significance, can we deny that they are also the beginning of the process that ends in Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Ibsen? And are we to deny that the works of the great masters in art and science are any less valid for children than for their parents? The universality of a master's work lies not only in its international status: it has a significance throughout time as well as space, a significance for young as well as old.

Yet the ultimate relevance of the classics seems to lie for children and young people not simply in their own splendour but in the combination of aesthetic experience with a quality of self-knowing. If science is an embodiment of the physical world, the arts are an embodiment of the spiritual. The two are interrelated. That is our heritage.