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Drama at the Heart

Teaching Drama in Steiner-Waldorf Schools

Nell Smyth

240 pp.  
9 1/4" x 6 1/8"
Illustrations: b/w line drawings

Floris Books


Published:  July 2016


Drama, when integrated well into a curriculum, can bring empathy, excitement, expression, and engagement to any lesson. Drama at the Heart will help teachers to work successfully with drama in their classrooms in a rewarding and holistic way.

Nell Smyth begins by considering what it means to be a drama teacher. Whether for a single lesson or for a whole touring production, this comprehensive book guides teachers through the challenges and the details, from breathing exercises and ice-breaking games to finding the right play for a particular age group, as well as all aspects of rehearsal and production. It is packed with practical and down-to-earth advice, helpful tips and funny stories, all based on Nell Smyth's extensive experience. Drama at the Heart is an invaluable, one-stop handbook.

Throughout this warm and practical book, the reader is reminded about what truly makes a successful production—a joyful, thriving child or teenager at the heart of it.

  • “This book has the merit of being complete in all aspects relevant to the target audience and will make an excellent reference guide for teachers and prospective teachers. The more enthusiastic student might also gain much from this work and it would prove invaluable in providing a clear focus and end point whilst being able to offer the content so often lacking. An incredibly useful piece of work which will get much use across the sector and Nell Smyth must be commended for her depth of understanding and passion whilst being able to ground the reader with practical experiences.” —Adrian Hall FRSA, Principal at ALRA (The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts)

    “This is a book which privileges process-orientated learning, relevant knowledge, critical reflection, ownership and validation of the child's felt experience, relationships based on respect, understanding and shared core values, collaborative learning and a sense of joy which incorporates the whole person and their wellbeing. It is also a book that is a pleasure to read and will be of immense practical help to those working in the field or who wish to understand more fully the possibilities of drama in helping us to understand what it means to be human” —Dr. Adrian James, PhD Dip. Act. FRSA FHEA PGCHE, Southend Campus, East 15 Acting School

    “Throughout the book the theory is presented and rationalized before really clear and accessible exercises are offered for teachers and practitioners to use. The book also begins with a focus on yourself as a teacher which is most useful in reminding us all that we too, must be present, if we are to support and develop children and young people. It is a highly nuanced and informed approach that is clearly founded on excellent practice supported by theory. What is most useful about this book is perhaps the fact that the NQT and the experienced drama facilitator could pick it up and both be challenged and supported to develop their practice.... what is offered here is outstanding practice for any teacher in any school with every child.” —Emma Bramley, Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts)

    “How I wish I had had access to Drama at the Heart when I was feeling my way into my teaching career.... Time and again while reading through this 'journey' I heard myself saying 'I know that' or 'I did that'—statements I immediately qualified with the observation; 'but I didn't explore its nature as thoroughly, and certainly not as cogently, as Nell.' The very memory of this (recurring) commentary makes me wish even more that I had had Drama at the Heart as a source.... I certainly will recommend Drama at the Heart to every teacher who wants, who needs, to work creatively with students.” —Paul Gierlach, retired Waldorf teacher

    “This is an inspiring book, but also one that gives the reader a genuine experience of what action research in Steiner education can look like. The book contains not only an in-depth study of some important contemporary thought, but a thoroughly practical guide to its theme. Many have written about action research in Waldorf education, Nell Symth tells a story of her work with children and young people that allows the reader to enter the experience of it.” —Kevin Avison, senior advisor for the Steiner–Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK and Ireland

Related Titles

  • Black Earth : Towards a New Drama
  • Speech and Drama : (CW 282)

    Related Titles by Subject:

    Waldorf & Special Needs Education: Art & Literature and Waldorf & Special Needs Education: Resources