Performance Drama

At Habs we recognise the importance of the creative arts: to tell stories, to develop emotional intelligence, to fuel imagination, to work together to create something meaningful with the ability to affect others.

Our approach

We take a fresh approach to the work we make, moving away from the more traditional image of a school play and instead focusing on new, innovative and creatively ambitious work that puts the process of making at its heart.

We challenge our students to find fresh perspectives on what theatre, drama and film can be and to take creative responsibility for the work produced, much more in line with the training in drama schools, the National Youth Theatre and professionally.

Students are encouraged to be bold in their choices – to take risks, to be in the moment and authentic, trusting their instincts and using their own experiences and imaginations to inform their decisions. We want them to be aware of how their work can be socially conscious – reflecting, celebrating or challenging the world around us.

Productions, workshops and performances

We offer an extensive programme of work throughout the year, including at least three large-scale productions, participation in the Coram Shakespeare Schools festival, National Theatre New Views writing programme and numerous House Drama events and other projects.

We produce a range of plays and musical collaborations – from adaptations of books, graphic novels and classic texts to new work devised by the company or created alongside professional writers. Recent productions include Brief Encounter, This is somewhere better and How can you learn to swim before you get in?, jointly with Habs Boys.

Students have the opportunity to work with an exciting range of industry professionals on projects, giving them a diverse range of perspectives and training. Recent collaborators include writers James Fritz, Simon Longman, Ella Frears and Andrew Muir; theatre-makers Matt Harrison, Joyce Henderson and Marc Benga; movement directors Kane Husbands, Rachel-Leah Hosker and Grace Gibson; video designer Dan Light; and Tea films and 4Ransom films. We also work with partners, companies, schools, community groups and charities.

Alongside productions there is a thriving programme of drama clubs, external workshops, improvisation classes and writing mentorship, which take place each term.

Students are trained as theatre-makers, offering them the space in which to collaborate, play and take risks. They are encouraged to take responsibility for creating new work and finding their own original voices within it

Pupils of all ages use creative subjects to enhance their emotional experience… responding emotionally to both individual and collective high-quality musical and dramatic performances.

Independent Schools Inspectorate report, 2022

Film production

We are looking to develop students as film-makers, offering training from professionals and providing the opportunities to make their own ‘shorts’ and develop their skills around scriptwriting, directing, acting for screen, camera operation and cinematography.

Each year we produce several film projects in collaboration with professional film-makers and students also write and produce their own films. We have recently developed a full-length feature film Tiny Acts of Revolution, working with Tea Films, alongside several music videos and smaller projects.

Tiny Acts of Revolution

Build a new set of skills

We encourage all students to get involved in drama at Habs regardless of experience, offering students the opportunities to challenge, develop and surprise themselves as part of a creative collaborative process. Many students choose to take on technical roles – lighting, sound and AV, working alongside our Theatre technicians they are trained tin all aspects in order to design, tech and operating performances. There are also many other opportunities to explore roles as stage managers, set designers, playwrights, costume designers, make-up artists or video designers. We regularly host theatre design talks and workshops with renowned theatre companies and design practitioners to further develop these skills.

Wherever possible we look for creative collaborations both with Habs Boys and other areas of the schools, working with musicians, writers, photographers and art students.

National opportunities

Over the past five years, over 20 students from Habs Girls and Habs Boys have been accepted into the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, which demonstrates the quality of the training in our schools.

Each year we participate in the National Theatre New Views playwriting programme, a nationwide in-school playwriting programme for students aged 14-19. Each school works with professional playwrights who mentor students to write their own original 30-minute plays. Shortlisted entries get a staged reading or fully produced production at the National Theatre.

Over the past couple of years, several Habs students have had professional readings at the NT, while Jamila Salim’s play Colour Outside the Lines was bought by Audible to be professionally produced.

Our performance spaces

At Habs Girls, we offer a range of rehearsal, workshop and performance spaces, including:

  • A drama studio
  • A further drama studio which is a purpose-built black-box studio for teaching and examination shows
  • A designated performance space with tiered auditorium seating, plus high-quality lighting and sound equipment

Our in-house Drama Technician manages and operates these spaces, supporting all activities and productions.

The Arts Award

Taking part in drama productions is a good way to gather experience for the Arts Award, a national qualification offered in our Senior School and Sixth Form.

The Arts Award evaluates the knowledge, understanding, creativity, communication, planning and review skills that young people develop through involvement in the arts. It recognises all art forms, including theatre, arts administration and technical roles.

There are four Arts Award levels: Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The highest level, Gold, is worth 16 UCAS points towards a university or college application.