Performance DramaSUB MENU
Performance Drama is a thriving and popular department, with real enthusiasm from pupils, parents and staff alike for what is done - especially for the quality and range of School Productions on offer.
Roughly a third of the school take part in productions annually. Alongside the main performances, a host of other regular dramatic activities take place, including Drama Club, The Writer's Programme, Theatre Crew and Theatre Crafts.
All of this is based within Great Hall, our purpose-built Theatre and Performing Arts Centre, opened in September 2013. At the heart of Great Hall is a professionally-equipped Theatre, plus a Drama Studio, Dance Studio, rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms and extensive backstage facilities.
You can read more below about the various activities on offer, or watch our video:
Each year sees a diverse and exciting range of drama performed by the school, including popular classics, contemporary and challenging works, large-scale West End musicals, and plays for young people.
In the Autumn Term, there are usually two senior-school productions, one of which is often a musical; the other often a smaller, experimental piece of drama. The Lent Term features a major lower-school production for Year 10. The Summer Term is packed with another lower-school production for Year 9, the Year 7/8 production and finally, Summer Cabaret, which ends the year with a music and drama revue.
Auditions for school productions are open to all the respective pupils, not just those studying drama in the classroom. Productions are an ideal opportunity to develop confidence, communication and team-working skills, alongside creative, technical and performing skills. Pupils regularly gain places at the National Youth Theatre and Youth Musical Theatre, and several pupils have gone on to foundation or full courses at well-known theatre schools.
School productions are directed by our own staff, and supported by the pupil backstage crew alongside the in-house theatre staff. The department is run by our resident Performance Director, Mrs. Cory Pulman-Jones, who brings a wealth of professional acting and directing experience to The Leys.
We also have an active Drama Scholarship programme, with regular workshops, trips and other enrichment opportunities, plus an annual Scholars' Showcase evening. The Scholars also perform regularly at school assembly.
Great Expectations (Year 9 play), May 2017
The Christmas Truce (Year 10 play), February 2017
Sweet Charity, December 2016
Tartuffe, November 2016
Director of Performance Drama
Cory Pulman-Jones (professional acting name Cory Pulman) was an actor for twenty-five years before she began teaching and directing. She comes from a theatrical family. Her father was writer Jack Pulman (Adaptor of I Claudius for the BBC), her mother is actress Barbara Young, and her sister Liza Pulman is the Soprano member of the satirical cabaret group 'Fascinating Aida'.
Among her many professional appearances in theatre, television and radio, Cory has been seen on television in Coronation Street (Mandy Whitworth), Midsummer Murders (Badgers Drift), Jackson Pace (The Great Years), Dr Who (The Curse of Fenric) and Robin of Sherwood (The Pretender). She has had a range of experience in the theatre, including playing Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the York Theatre Royal, and Mercy Lewis/Mary Warren in the 1991 production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller at the Royal National Theatre.
Before joining The Leys, she was Actress in Residence at Impington Village College for three years until 2015 where she directed extensively. She has had successful experience in coaching pupils for drama school entry and National Youth Theatre applications.
Cory is supported by the Theatre Manager, Paul Durose, who designs and manages all of the School productions, plus two professional technicians, Dominic Renouf and Adele Meads. The school also employs a full-time Drama Graduate to assist with productions, Megan Mattravers, and we use the services of a Wardrobe Mistress.
Great Hall has transformed the opportunities available to our pupils in the performing arts, both on stage and behind the scenes. At the heart of Great Hall is a multi-purpose 337-seat theatre for drama performances, lectures, presentations and music concerts.
The venue has been designed to operate as a professional-standard 'teaching theatre' with pupils involved in every aspect of production from acting to backstage crew. With this in mind, safe 'ladder-free' access is provided to the high-level lighting and scenery facilities over the stage and auditorium. Professional technical infrastructure and backstage facilities include a motorised flying system, adjustable stage elevators, large control room, computerised lighting and sound controls, scenery workshop, dressing rooms and green room.
Adjustable acoustic measures are designed to reflect or absorb sound to suit the differing requirements for spoken word and music.
The lower tier of the auditorium is retractable, creating a large hall which can comfortably seat 600 for a full school assembly. This venue brings together the whole school community and is used for open mornings, parents' receptions, careers fairs, exhibitions and exams.
On the first floor, the Middleton Drama Studio provides a flexible rehearsal space and intimate 'black box' theatre which is used for small productions and exam performances. The Middleton Studio is accessed through the Trumpington Gallery, which provides a dramatic space for exhibitions by our Art Department and other displays of pupil work including Design and Technology projects.
With views overlooking Coe Fen, the John Harding Drama Centre is home to the Drama Department (a popular academic subject at The Leys) and consists of three spacious classrooms including the Sandy Woods Rehearsal Room.
A bright, professional-standard Dance Studio on the top floor is used for Games lessons, extra-curricular groups, and dance rehearsals for our theatre productions.
A spacious foyer on the ground floor houses Balgarnie's Café and an outdoor terrace where pupils can meet during the day, leading to a grass courtyard known as Slater Court.
Great Hall is also available to hire by external organisations for performances, conferences and other events.
This popular club runs on Tuesday lunchtimes for Year 9. The main focus is on drama games and improvisation. The emphasis is on having fun, while at the same time developing confidence and team skills. Props, costumes and starter lines help to stimulate improvisation work, which is shared in a supportive way with the rest of the group. The club is ideal for those considering taking Drama at GCSE, as well as those who may prefer to participate away from the classroom.
Theatre 'Tech' Crew is open to all years of the school (Y9-U6, plus Year 7/8 for their production). The group meets once a week to help prepare for shows and gain an insight into the "other side" of theatre. Crew provides a relaxed and fun atmosphere in which to develop confidence, communication, team-working skills and the theatre craft.
Over the years Tech Crew has encouraged many pupils to pursue theatrical interests at university or as a serious career option. The activity has its roots back when the School's theatre facilities existed in what is now Dale boarding house, when it was known as Stage Club, before moving to the 1960s theatre and now in Great Hall. Former members have gone onto careers as Production Managers, Producers for TV, film and theatre, Lighting Designers and Directors.
Under the direction of our in-house professional technicians, the crew are responsible for providing all the technical and backstage support for the productions and events in the theatre and elsewhere. This can involve all aspects of work behind-the-scenes including lighting, sound, stage management, scenic design, construction, painting, props, costume, etc. During the Lent term, the Crew also work on a Design Challenge to create a complete conceptual design for a performance, which is presented in teams to a panel of expert judges.
The Leys is leading the way with extra-curricular technical training by developing and pioneering a national pupil award scheme for backstage activities, as part of the School Theatre Support Group. Great Hall has extensive professional facilities, designed specifically to maximise pupil involvement backstage.
Complimentary to the crew, there is a separate activity for those who prefer to help with costume, hair-styling and make-up for productions. Both activities work on school productions and participate together in the Design Challenge.
We are lucky to be able to provide an exciting week-long West End residential workshop, based at London's Charing Cross Theatre, at which pupils consider every aspect of putting on shows from a producer's perspective. The trip takes place every two years.