Zoe Wanamaker’s alarm at new GCSE drama rules: “Digital recordings are not LIVE theatre”

Top British actors including Zoe Wanamaker, David Harewood, and Brian Cox have expressed their alarm at new GCSE drama rules, allowing students to view filmed theatre productions instead of a live performances.

According to The Stage, new syllabuses by exam boards OCR and AQA require the assessment of ‘live theatre’, but will allow drama students to analyse a recording of a play instead of a live performance.

In a letter to The Sunday Times the actors stated:

“While we are all in favour of using the latter to supplement drama programmes, they are not ‘live theatre’ – an experience unmediated by the intervention of the camera.”

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They continued:

“We fear that the designation of digital recordings as live theatre may remove the need for teachers to arrange such events, resulting in pupils missing out on invaluable social, cultural and artistic experiences.

“In a period of squeezed budgets and health and safety issues about school trips, this is a real concern” as school trips “are the only contact with the theatre that some pupils get”.

“Many of us remember those magical experiences all our lives. Countless writers, actors, artists and others working in the creative industries were inspired to take up their craft by those enriching evenings in the stalls,” they said.

“Recordings of live productions are valuable teaching tools but they should be in addition to the experience of live performance, not a substitute for it.


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