Drama at PHS
Although Pinelands High has a very rich history in drama, it was only in 2011 that the school was able to offer its pupils the opportunity to study Dramatic Arts at an academic level. Pupils can choose to take Drama from Grade 8, as part of the Arts and Culture curriculum, and from Grade 10 to Matric, as one of their selected academic subjects.
The school stages annual dramatic productions that have become known in Cape Town for a level of professionalism and excellence seldom seen in school productions. Pupils can become involved in all aspects of these productions, from acting to set construction, and from make-up to sound and lighting. Many of our pupils have continued their studies in Drama once leaving the school, largely as a result of the exposure they enjoyed at Pinelands High.
Drama as a subject
Studying Dramatic Arts is not simply an acting course. Pupils look at all aspects of drama - from acting, voice, movement and directing, through to writing and the history of drama. They are expected to become familiar with all aspects of a dramatic production, both in front of and behind the scenes. The world of theatre is not simply about acting, but also needs producers, writers and directors, as well as a host of behind-the-scenes professionals. While we will touch briefly on the production aspects of Drama, our core focus is on performance.
Pinelands High stages an annual production, alternating between a musical and a play each year. Productions are chosen carefully in order to give pupils interested in performing exposure to different kinds of drama. We have put on musicals such as Annie, Oliver, The Sound of Music, Grease and District Six, as well as comedic works and serious plays such as Athol Fugard's plays Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island. We have also tackled some Shakespeare plays, including Othello and Macbeth, the latter of which was staged not in Scotland but in an African setting.
The Pinelands High annual productions are of a standard seldom seen in schools, with pupils expected to work at a high level and within an extremely discplined environment.
The One-Act Play Festival is primarily a pupil initiative, with any pupil from Grade 8 to 11 allowed to participate. Pupils direct and act in the plays; and there has been a long-standing tradition of performing plays that have also been written by pupils.
Once a script is submitted, it is screened by the festival co-ordinators. Plays chosen for performance are then directed by a pupil.