North East Connected

Exam Clean Sweep For Public Speaking Students

acting largeThe acting and public speaking talents of students at a North East college has come across loud and clear after they gained a clean sweep in prestigious exams.

Every student at Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, who has studied the international qualification run by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) this year has passed, and 87 per cent gained a distinction or merit.

The opportunity to take LAMDA lessons is open to all students at the college with numbers tripling to more than 200 since specialist teacher Rachel Oliver joined the college in 2013.

Miss Oliver teaches, trains and directs the students, who can choose one of four different disciplines to follow: public speaking, acting, verse and prose, and musical theatre.

Those who opt for public speaking have to research and write content for a thought-provoking speech on a political, social or cultural theme.

Student Laura Kelly’s passionate speech on global warming presented in the college drama studio involved Miss Oliver delivering a melting ice-cube to reflect the content, while cardboard boxes featured in Jade Thompson’s speech as a symbol of how society labels people.

Acting students had to perform scenes from plays or books to the examiner, as well completing a theory test. Rebecca Iceton, 14, of Low Fell, got the highest mark of all students from Year 8-10 for her performance of scenes from Jane Austen’s Emma and Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard.

“I started LAMDA in Year 7 and I’ve definitely progressed” said Rebecca. “I was ridiculously nervous about performing at the start but I’ve got more and more confident. I now want to study drama at GCSE and then musical theatre. “As well as being a really good personal experience, doing LAMDA looks good on your CV and should help me when I come to apply for university.”

Equally talented, Rebecca's older brother Jonathan, 16, who is a grade eight flautist as well as gaining the highest LAMDA mark for students in Years 11-13, wants to study music at Cambridge University followed by drama school.

He explained: “The exam is quite gruelling because you’re performing to an audience of one examiner and of course they can’t react at all so you have to imagine you’re playing to a full house.”

Along with Jonathan, Rebecca Charlton, 17, has gained grade eight in acting and now helps mentor the younger LAMDA students.

“I love helping them, especially when they get good marks. I’ve found LAMDA hugely beneficial and now I’m doing grade eight in musical theatre” said Rebecca.

Head of drama Paula Wells said: “We’re delighted with the 100 per cent pass rate. Students rightly see the public speaking course as useful for developing good interview techniques, and many of the acting students, whether they are studying drama or not, find the skills they develop help to build their self-confidence.”

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