Drama, Film and Media

An Introduction from Ben Phillips, Director of Drama

We are very lucky at Abingdon to have the support of a full time technical and design team, who help our talented actors produce first-rate extra curricular productions at all levels of the school. We are pleased to be able to offer the opportunity for every year-group to be involved in an extra curricular production every year, and in recent years have tackled everything from Shakespeare to brand new pieces of writing specially commissioned for the school.

We are fortunate to work in collaboration with local girls’ school St Helen and St Katharine on most of our senior drama productions, which often include large-scale musicals. We enjoy the use of the beautiful 450-seater Amey Theatre, but our two purpose-built drama studios give us the versatility to produce more intimate pieces of theatre too. 

Recent productions include:

Lower School:

  • 2017: Black River Bridge 
  • 2016: Treasure Island
    (Both of the above specially commissioned for the school, written and adapted by Andy Cargill)
  • 2015: Calamaties: A Sketch Show

Middle School:

  • 2017: B12: A School Story 
  • 2016: And Then There Weren’t Any Left
    (Both of the above specially commissioned for the school, written by OA Edward Rowett)
  • 2015: Brainstorm


  • 2018: Fiddler on the Roof (@ SHSK), A Matter of Life and Death
  • 2017: London RoadMuch Ado About Nothing (@ SHSK)
  • 2016: The Caucasian Chalk CircleAnything Goes (@ SHSK)
  • 2015: Les Miserables

Upcoming productions:

  • November 2018: Lord of the Flies (Middle School)
  • February 2019: Loserville (Senior)

In addition to our major productions, we have also recently taken part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival in collaboration with Fitzharrys as part of the Abingdon In Partnership project, and have also taken part in the National Theatre’s New Views playwriting programme, allowing aspiring playwrights to enter their own scriptwriting into a competition that sees the winner’s play staged for a public audience at the National Theatre.

There are also opportunities for pupils to be involved in the technical side of theatre, assisting with the lighting, sound, costume and stage-management in our productions.

Several OAs have chosen to go on to drama school in recent years, with leavers successfully winning places to study at RADA, LAMDA, Central School of Speech and Drama, Italia Conti, and New York’s Julliard School.

In 2003, Abingdon established a film unit (AFU) to enable students to learn filmmaking from a team of industry professionals led by a renowned British documentary maker, the late Michael Grigsby (OA). Since then, AFU members have made nearly one hundred and fifty short films, many of which have won awards and emboldened an ever growing number of alumni to move into film and television after school. These include the film directors Sam Johnson, Tian Ji, Will Mcdowell, Tom Wakeling and Alex Ingham Brooke, the broadcasters Tom Swarbrick and Tom Bateman and the artist Matt Copson.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Amey Theatre for one of our productions soon.

Ben Phillips, Director of Drama, September 2018

  • Where: Geography Department
  • When: Monday P5
  • Who: Lower School
  • i/c: ICF

Aimed primarily at the Lower School, this clubs watches and discusses recent and topical TV documentaries. No one particular genre of documentary is favoured but rather a wide variety - historical, cultural, geographical, economic, natural history and the topical. Hopefully awareness is increased about the world around us.

  • Where: Drama Department
  • When: Wednesday afternoons, 2.30 – 5.00 pm throughout the year, and at other times as required (e.g. some Saturdays)
  • Who: 3-VI
  • i/c: JHT

The Abingdon Film Unit was formed in 2003. Since then its members have produced over 100 short films, a number of which have won awards and been screened at the National Film Theatre in London, and at festivals in France, Sweden, Hong Kong and throughout the UK. The Unit enables students to make their own films under the guidance of industry professionals. Please note: membership is offered to boys in Third Year and above after a process of applications and interviews that take place during the summer term for entry in September.

Once accepted, students become members of the Film Unit for the whole year. Films are researched and planned in the first part of the Michaelmas term; shooting usually begins around November; editing occupies much of the Lent term. The finished films are screened the following September.

Members of the Unit can also be invited to make films for others, whether within the school or the wider community. They can also undertake special film projects abroad. AFU members have made films in Cambodia, Moldova, China and Hong Kong, for example.

Trips may also be organised to cinemas, exhibitions or film studios.

You can view material on the Abingdon Film Unit website.

  • Where: Amey Theatre
  • When: Wednesday afternoons: 2.30 – 5.00pm; at other times by arrangement
  • Who: 4 – VI
  • i/c: NJML

Members gain experience of all aspects of technical theatre from the design stages to implementation. They are regularly involved in the preparation and running of drama productions, concerts, school events and external hires. Wednesday afternoons are put aside for the main bulk of the work but due to the large number of events, much of the work happens on other afternoons, evenings and weekends and therefore a high level of commitment is required.

Where: B111
When: Wednesdays P7
Who: 3rd Year and above
i/c: JTT

We will investigate several aspects of digital SLR photography, including: technical settings (aperture, ISO, etc.) and the effect they have; technique (e.g. lighting, focus effects); post-processing on a computer. We will have a test camera to use, but students will get the most out of the activity if they are able to bring and use their own DSLRs.

  • Where: Amey Theatre
  • When: Monday Period 8
  • Who: 4th Year and above
  • i/c: RP

Join us to watch, discuss and review films. We will watch a rich variety of films in different genres - including classic and more modern films, documentary, foreign language, short and archive film. If watching, discussing and reviewing films appeals to you join us! You'll be able to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of film, and may even be inspired to write a script or make a film of your own. 

  • Where: A321/322
  • When: Monday P5
  • Who: Lower School
  • i/c: JHT
  • Where: Drama Studio 1, Amey Theatre
  • When: Various days, 5.15 - 7.00pm
  • Who: Pupils in 3rd Year
  • i/c: JHTBJLP, JCM
  • Where: Drama Studio 1, Amey Theatre
  • When: Various days, 5.15 - 7.00pm
  • Who: Pupils in 4, 5, L6 and VI at Abingdon and St Helen’s
  • i/c: JHTBJLPJCM at Abingdon and Jo Watt, Libby Jewitt, Ash Verjee at SHSK

  • When: Tuesday period 8
  • Who: 4th Year and above
  • i/c: SAP

Pupils will have the opportunity to practice scenes and/or whole plays in French, German or Spanish, with one teacher per language. They will have a lot of input in terms of both the choice of material and the style of production, and can choose whether or not to perform what they rehearse for a larger audience towards the end of the year. Doing theatre work like this in another language can greatly improve fluency and confidence, and will be a lot of fun.

  • Where: B9
  • Who: Sixth Form
  • When: Monday P8
  • i/c: KJB

An exciting new activity, beginning this year, aimed at Sixth Form students with a passion for theatre (not necessarily Drama or English students). We will be covering a range of texts, from contemporary comedies such as 'One Man, Two Guvnors' by Richard Bean and 'Bouncers' by John Godber to older texts such as 'A School for Scandal' by Sheridan.

  • Where: A214
  • Who: 2nd Year
  • When: Thursday P8
  • i/c: SJP

Lower School Podcasting Club is a new venture into the realms of broadcast media.

Definition: A podcast is a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of digital radio, subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.

In the club we aim to explore the medium of radio programme production, the most popular format to date is quiz making.

  • Where: A214
  • Who: 3rd Year
  • When: Wednesday, P8
  • i/c: SCVM

3rd Year Podcasting Club is a new venture into the realms of broadcast media.

Definition: A podcast is a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of digital radio, subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.

In the club we aim to explore the medium of radio programme production, using news casting, sports reporting and possibly even making jingles.

  • Where: Amey Theatre
  • When: Monday Period 8; at other times by arrangement
  • Who: Upper School
  • i/c: NJML

Members are involved in the creative side of technical theatre focusing on the current term's production. The workshop's aim is to give participants an idea into the design aspects of technical theatre which is then applied in the Wednesday afternoon Amey Theatre Technical Crew activity.