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Drama

Drama is central to the cultural life of the School and works closely with the Art, Music and English departments to deliver a creative and culturally diverse curriculum. Drama is creative, bold, wide-ranging and diverse at Tonbridge. Our productions are of the highest standard both on stage and off, giving boys the opportunity to be part of a major show and to showcase their talents.

Located in the EM Forster Theatre, the Drama department offers unrivalled facilities available to all Tonbridgians whether they are studying Drama and Theatre or taking part in co-curricular productions. We encourage participation in all its forms, whether it is working backstage with our professional team of technicians, performing in the 400 seat theatre or enjoying the programme of professional productions as a member of the audience. Every boy at Tonbridge has the opportunity to participate in a way that interests him, be it as an actor, director, writer, singer or technician.

Academic Teaching

We stage an impressive range of productions over the course of the academic year including a whole School play or musical in the Michaelmas Term, a Junior play, a Lower Sixth play and an Edinburgh Fringe play in the Summer Term, four or more House plays scattered through the year, as well as numerous exam performances in the Lent Term. We enter a Junior production into the Shakespeare’s Schools’ Festival and are looking to take a major production on tour in the near future.

We also run a creative writing course for boys in collaboration with top London theatres such as the Royal Court, the National and the Old Vic with the aim of getting scripts published and organise for boys to take part in workshops run by visiting actors, practitioners and theatre companies such as Frantic Assembly and Shared Experience.

With a range of theatre trips to London and beyond, as well as the annual trips to the National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Drama department offers a wonderfully rich experience of theatre.

Co-Curricular

There are opportunities for involvement, irrespective of age or experience, with nine major productions in a year, plus a wide range of exciting workshops, professional shows and theatre trips. The EM Forster Theatre regularly welcomes visits from a variety of touring theatre companies as part of our wider Arts programme.

The annual main School production is a highlight of the School calendar. Past productions include musicals such as Chess, Cabaret and Sweeney Todd, Shakespeare plays including Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing and straight plays such as Private Peaceful and The Government Inspector. Recent Junior plays and Lower Sixth plays such as The History Boys, Romeo and Juliet and One Man Two Guvnors have equally delighted audiences.

Pupils from local girls’ schools participate in almost all productions, and thrive in a positive, creative working environment alongside our boys. All our events are open to the public: tickets for shows, and for our extensive Arts programme, can be ordered via the box office system.

House Plays see a specific House pulling together to produce pupil-led performances, with boys working in all areas of theatre production. Other events include an annual Novi Shakespeare celebration lit by candelabra and the Junior Drama Society, which runs as a club after School. 

In their last year of study, boys are invited to take a play up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as members of the Hoghead Theatre Company. Boys are responsible for everything that goes into taking a show on tour.

Teaching Staff

Gavin Bruce

Head of Drama
MA, University of Lancaster

Sumair Hussain

Head of Academic Drama
MA, BA, Portsmouth University

Francesca Bailey

Director of Drama in Residence
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EM Forster Theatre

The School's professional theatre has a full equipped 380 seat proscenium arch theatre.

English

Nestled in Dry Hill House, the English department at Tonbridge offers students the chance to embark on the captivating intellectual journey of reading and exploring profound literature.