Creating a Drama studio

Alison Chaplin

Alison Chaplin is the Manager of Arts On The Move, a company providing drama support for schools, including great Shakespeare workshops and play adaptations for KS2 and KS3.

Website: www.artsonthemove.co.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Most schools don’t have a designated drama studio but some have recently begun to convert old classrooms, or mobile classrooms, into drama spaces. These are my top tips for creating a drama studio:

  • The whole room should be painted black. Including the ceiling! This is so that (a) any lighting can be used effectively; (b) there are no distractions; (c) it's practical and (d) it provides a blank canvas as a backdrop for any work.

  • Install blackout curtains or blinds. This is to ensure that no one is distracted by pupils seeing in (or out). It also provides a bit of a sound barrier and, again, allows for a blank backdrop.
  • Lighting: strip lights are okay for general drama activities, but a decent drama room should have the option of spotlights too. These should be positioned so that they - at the very least - light one end of the room and, preferably, offer different levels of light, e.g. some tight beams and some wide flood lights (or general wash). They should also be easy to move and reposition. If installing decent spotlights isn't an option, you could use ordinary household spotlights that can be manoeuvred into position, or see if your school can purchase a set (or two) of free-standing spotlights. The following websites have a good selection: www.stagelighting.co.uk, www.dramakits.co.uk, www.stage-services.co.uk. Lighting is important as it creates atmosphere and helps with any performances the students may create.

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  • The room should be carpeted. This is because some drama involves students working on the floor. If you are converting an old classroom, this is an essential change that needs to be made. Carpet will also help to keep the room sound-proofed. The carpet needs to be hard-wearing, but do try not to put down anything with too much nylon in it if possible - to avoid static – it also doesn’t need to be black!

  • Chairs: easy to move, stackable, plastic chairs are useful, as students can use these for circle games, for when the teacher needs to share information at the start of the lesson, and also when creating improvisations.

  • Staging/rostra: if you have the money, please purchase some staging units for your drama room. These are platforms, of different heights (from, say 1 foot to 3 feet) that can be used individually or with step units. An area that fills one end of your drama studio, with differing levels, should provide all you need. You can buy good drama rostra via the following websites: www.stagesystems.co.uk; www.backstageshop.co.uk; www.ajs.co.uk; www.centraltheatresupplies.co.uk. Most staging you can buy is stackable, so shouldn’t take up too much room. Staging units are really useful for working on things like status, and for creating effective performances on different levels.

  • It's helpful to have several electrical sockets in the room so that teachers can use sound equipment, CD players, etc.

  • A small cupboard, or designated lockable space, would be useful to store additional  equipment like props, material, scripts, and so on.

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