LAMDA Examinations
The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) is one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdom. LAMDA began offering speech examinations to the public in the 1880s. Since then, these examinations have been refined and developed into a comprehensive system of performance evaluation by experts in education, acting and communication.

LAMDA at St Mary’s Calne
At St Mary’s, girls can participate in graded examinations in Verse and Prose, Public Speaking, Acting and Musical Theatre. They will have 30-minute lessons once a week for solo performances taking Grades 3-5, increasing to one-hour lessons for duologue lessons or solo performers taking the medal grades (6-8).

Verse and Prose
Verse and Prose is a good introduction to LAMDA for those girls who have not studied the course before. They can work as a solo performer or in a pair and will prepare and learn a poem and piece of prose, which they deliver to a visiting examiner. This course concentrates on the vocal delivery of the written word. There is also a theory element where the girls answer questions about their chosen texts and vocal techniques used.

Speaking in Public
The perfect course for pupils who want to enhance their public presentation skills. Girls work as solo performers and prepare speeches and visual aids with their teachers, which they then deliver as a speech to a visiting examiner. There is a theory element to the course where the girls are asked about their choices and have an improvised conversation with the examiner.

The most popular of the LAMDA courses available at St Mary’s. Girls can work as a solo performer or in a pair and will prepare two to three performances for a visiting examiner, depending on their Grade. There is a theory element to this course where the girls will answer questions on their choice of pieces and characterisation.

Musical Theatre
Our experienced acting professionals work alongside the Music Department in delivering the LAMDA Musical Theatre course. Girls can work as a solo performer or in a pair and will prepare three musical performances encompassing singing, acting and movement for a visiting examiner. There is a theory element to this course where the girls will answer questions about the musicals, characters and singing techniques involved in their performances.

LAMDA Showcase Evenings
There are two opportunities a year for the girls to perform. The LAMDA Showcase evenings are informal events which provide a great opportunity for parents and friends to watch the girls' performances.

Our LAMDA teachers heave a wealth of experience – over 50 years amongst them! We are fortunate to have a team of professional Actors, Directors and Drama Specialists who teach to the highest standards, which is clear from the excellent examination results achieved every year.

For further information, please visit or contact our LAMDA Co-ordinator, Mrs Frederica Underwood, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Drama at St Mary's

The Drama Department is renowned for its high level acting performances and the vigour of Theatre and Drama permeate life at St Mary's. The Autumn Production is an important annual school event and involves girls from LV-UVI. Each year, Sixth Form students take a play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (for further information about the past productions at the Fringe, please click here).

The juniors enjoy activities such the Junior Play or Four on Tour at the Egg Theatre in Bath. The annual Company Drama Competition involves each company presenting a play in 48 hours. Junior Drama club is run on a weekly basis by our Actor in Residence. The girls work towards presenting informal showcase events throughout the year. 
Performances throughout the school year provide showcases not only for our actresses, but for those girls learning the disciplines of directing, lighting and set design, stage management and production.

Theatre trips have ranged from A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith to Complicite’s ground-breaking production, The Encounter, at the Bristol Old Vic. GCSE and A Level Drama students attend the theatre regularly as part of their course. Girls have workshops with visiting practitioners, ranging from Physical Theatre with Frantic Assembly to Improvisation skills with White Socks Theatre.

The school has developed an exciting association with RADA which involves weekend workshops.  In addition, a unique course - the RADA Advanced Communication Skills Course - has been established. Click here for more information about the RADA Course.

Private tuition for LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) for individuals, pairs and small groups, is an extremely popular extra-curricular activity. Approximately 100 students prepare each year for examinations in Acting and the Speaking of Verse and Prose.  Click here for more information about LAMDA.   

Edinburgh Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 - The Unravelling

2017's Edinburgh Fringe Show was The Unravelling by Fin Kennedy;" In an urban fabric shop, a dying mother challenges her daughters to weave her the greatest tale, using nothing more than pieces of cloth. Little do they realise that their prize is far more than the shop itself – it is the power to write their own futures."

Final rehearsals took place at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond in July. The cast endured four days of intense rehearsals to polish our show to Edinburgh Fringe standards. Mrs Cochran-Patrick lead rehearsals with Miss Darling and Miss Dickinson assisting. Our festival experience began with a late night technical rehearsal, which was our only chance to practise in our venue and arrange our lighting and sound cues. We then began our five-day run of the show and were lucky enough to receive full or near-full audiences every day - a real triumph at a festival where the average audience size is eight!  We were visited by a number of Old Girls and parents who kindly came to support the show. The girls' hard work to promote the show, by flyering every day on the Royal Mile and our efforts to set up our purple monster (the king of the underground) on the Royal Mile had clearly paid off. One reviewer posted: "This performance by a troupe of teenage girls is highly polished and definitely worth seeing. Stars of the future. Highly engaging and entertaining. Really enjoyed this rendition. Go and see for yourself." The group had the opportunity to make the most of all that the Fringe had to offer, enjoying a range of performances from  Theatre Ad Infinitum’s production of The Odyssey to the popular Education, Education, Education by the Wardrobe Ensemble. A huge thank you to the friends and family who came to support us and to Mrs Rebecca Cochran-Patrick for all her hard work in bringing the show to life.

Edinburgh Fringe 2016 – Twisted Tales presents The Company of Wolves

Company of WolvesMrs Cochran-Patrick lead the direction on this project with Miss Holly Darling taking the role of assistant director / producer. Rehearsals took place at school and at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond during the summer holidays. The cast of eight LVI girls and a UVI sound designer performed Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves. We performed under a new theatre company name – ‘Twisted Tales’. This marked a new era in Edinburgh Fringe shows for St Mary’s. The girls performed at The Space on the Mile at 12:35 pm every day between the 8th and 12th August. We re-imagined the play as a kitsch 1950’s educational, cautionary tale for girls. The show featured a guest actor in the play in the role of the wolf. 

The performances were a great success; here is a selection of quotes from the reviews that we received over the week:

The play visually is absolutely spot on. All dressed in reds, whites, and blacks, the ensemble clearly embody the original Red Riding Hood story. Snow White also shines through, another bloody fairy tale with a more dark edge than seen in mainstream tellings. The group have succeeded in evoking Carter’s point that whilst folktales function as cautionary tales, they also show a darker human impulse to stray from the path.”

Holly Darling’s script is beautifully written. The narration comes alive in the rich descriptions of snow falling and of the everyday rural life. The play is full of innuendo for the audience to chuckle along with, and reflects Carter’s love for double-entendre.”

“Carina, this play’s Red Riding Hood, is also a talented performer. At once wide-eyed and coy, she perfectly gets across the young girl’s naive innocence that masks a budding sexuality her grandmother finds frightening.”
(TV Bomb)

This is an enticing production cleverly staged with some wonderfully fresh ideas. There is a physical theatre element to the performance which brings it to life with very few props. The motorbike in the first story is particularly clever and works excellently with the aesthetic of the predator of that tale.”

The work of the ensemble is pleasingly collaborative and generous, with performers gelling together harmoniously.”

In line with the historical oral tradition of fairy tales, the piece celebrates the very art of storytelling. As with Carter’s satirical style, the performance does not take itself too seriously, and therein lies much of its charm
(Broadway Baby)

The full reviews can be found here:

TV Bomb

Broadway Baby




Edinburgh Fringe 2015 – Comedy Sketch Show with Trestle Masks

In August 2015, three LVI girls; Hebe, Anna and Romily, under the direction of Mr Edward Cousens, performed a four-day run of their show Comedy Sketch Show with Trestle Masks at the Space on The Mile. This was following a two-day workshop in school with the renowned Trestle Theatre Company, where the girls learnt the masked performance skills needed to create their show. The experience which included the girls flyering on the Royal Mile to drum up an audience for their show gave the girls a real insight into the wider performing arts industry.



Brown Felt HatEdinburgh Fringe 2014 – Venus Flytrap Productions presents The Brown Felt Hat

It's 1942 in a British seaside hotel. The owner, a domineering, self-made businesswoman, drives herself and her small staff to the limit. Will the arrival of her sister and niece expose the secrets, truth and reasons behind her malice? Ultimately the visitors are forced to face one of their greatest fears: to return to the bombing. It may be a step too far. As a beacon which helps the wearer to escape the hostility and adversity, the brown felt hat is a symbol of good times, of wellbeing, of self-esteem and of never-ending optimism.


out to LunchEdinburgh Fringe 2013 - Venus Flytrap Productions presents Out to Lunch!

Some of 2012’s UVI Form's leading actors returned to The International Edinburgh Fringe in August to premiere a play especially written for them by Lilian leadbetter, Director of Drama.

The play, based on five female characters, is entitled Out to Lunch! and is described by Miss Leadbetter as ‘A Dark Comedy about a Light Lunch’ – think Made in Chelsea meets Hammer Horror!

After rehearsing the play with Miss Leadbetter at RADA in London, the ensemble took the show to a great venue just off The Royal Mile.  Performing to enthusiastic audiences, the play ran from Saturday 3rd to Wednesday 7th August at The Space Venue 9 on Niddry Street.  The great actors – Charlotte Bell, Matilda Ellis, Ella May, Victoria Price and Nicola Randall were ably supported by Production Manager Kate Le Fevre, as well as Mrs Rhiannon Davies and Mr Camron Miller – who also made guest appearances on stage… The whole project was a resounding success and we are indebted to all ensemble parents, especially Mr Johnny Price and Mrs Sarah Le Fevre for their wonderful help and support.

The Out to Lunch! team returned to Calne in December to play an excerpt of the show as part of Finale, the December theatre production.  Miss Leadbetter plans to write a series of short plays about women and their friendships played out in social settings, of which Out to Lunch! is the first.

Macbeth UnsexedEdinburgh Fringe 2012 - Venus Flytrap Productions presents Macbeth Unsexed

Madness, mayhem and murder played out by an all female cast of ‘lady-killers’. Shakespeare well seasoned with black widow humour and a pinch of Artaud thrown into the pot! Tragedy retold from the perspective of Lady Macbeth, the witches and a band of female murderers - real and fictional - transported from other times and literature. Think: Shakespearean Killer Queen meets Myra Hindley, Medea and a host of deadly beauties. Hell hath no fury like this! Caustic comedy by the drop-dead gorgeous sirens of Venus Flytrap Productions – from St Mary’s Calne. The Scottish play as never seen before!

Macbeth Unsexed is a very powerful evocation/adaptation of the Scottish play with emphasis on the dark humour of Theatre of Cruelty, incorporating Physical Theatre and music. The story is told from the perspectives of Lady Macbeth, the witches and a host of female murderers (real and fictional) taken from other times and literature. It has fast pace, requires minimal props and is flexible in terms of theatrical space. The ‘Venus Flytrap’ ensemble is very strong, with a great line-up of lead actors from the current LVI Form: Charlotte, Matilda, Olivia, Nyasha, Victoria, and Nicola.

The show which evolved from the students’ own scriptwriting for A2 Level,  is both comic and  poignant,  fun, thought-provoking and, in the end, quite terrifying!


A Magical Experience

A story is a story, and you may tell it as your imagination and your being and your environment dictate. If your story grows wings and becomes the property of others you may not hold it back. One day it will return to you, enriched by new details and with a new voice.

Nelson Mandela

Madiba Magic’, a selection of Nelson Mandela’s (Madiba being his tribal name) favourite stories collected from all over the African continent truly did become ‘the property’ of the LIV Form and they gave it a ‘new voice’ by creating a magical event.

The girls all gave strong performances and particularly memorable characterisations were given by Sophie as the Praying Mantis who so wanted to become a god, Lily as the endearing Fesito, determined to take his father’s produce to market and ‘ride like a man among men’, and Tilly as the daughter of the Sun who chose to become the Mother of Planet Earth.

Rebecca Spicer of the Art department, assisted by the girls, created amazing African masks. The simple yet effective set was painted by Sophia, India, Elizabeth, Lavinia, Merridith and Sophie from the UIV Form. Together with imaginative costumes and effective lighting, this created a stunning visual impact.

The magic of the evening was further enhanced by 'Kaya Drums', a group of professional drummers, who provided mesmerizing rhythms and sound effects.

Director Madeleine Hill from South Africa was delighted to share a taste of South African culture with St Mary’s Calne. She also had the pleasure of working with the talented actress Rebecca Cochrane Patrick, assistant director, who teaches LAMDA at the school on a regular basis.

On a poignant note, 'Madiba Magic' was dedicated to Martha Cole. Proceeds of the collection taken at each performance were in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.



St Mary’s has had, for many years, a special relationship with RADA – the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. This has involved the school and the academy collaborating on a number of projects, including workshops on Physical Theatre, Voice and Audition Skills. In September 2007, a new year-long course was established – The RADA Advanced Communications Skills Course. The course now runs as an option for LVI (Year 12) girls.

The first of its kind in any school in the UK - or indeed anywhere - the focus of our St Mary's RADA course involves communication and presentation skills for the 21st Century. This course is 'tailor-made' for St Mary's, with its emphasis on the individual. Though, of course, famous for Theatre and Drama, RADA's portfolio includes the training of professionals in Law, Business, Government and Politics (even at Cabinet level!) We aim to utilise RADA expertise to promote and develop in our students the high level communication skills now regularly sought in the university and career markets.

The course is delivered by experienced St Mary's staff who undergo professional training at RADA in London and by visiting RADA experts who monitor the progress and supervise the assessment of students.

The course begins with a taster workshop with RADA practitioners. Following this, the girls are given the option to continue with the course which culminates in February with a day at RADA in London. The girls have a tour of the premises, make their final presentations (on a subject that they are passionate about) to a panel of experts and take in a show at RADA.

There are inherent advantages for the students in terms of UCAS, for example - with universities increasingly looking for ways in which to differentiate between top academic students - the experience and qualification gained from this RADA course should prove to be significant advantages. Offered to the girls in the LVI Form only, our aim is to build upon the experience and the maturity of each girl, while giving her invaluable training as she approaches her university life and professional career.

For more information on the course or how to enrol your daughter, please contact Mr Duncan Ellis, Acting Director of Drama: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.