Drama at the Heart

Teaching Drama in Steiner-Waldorf Schools

Nell Smyth

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  • A warm and practical book for drama teachers
  • Guides readers through the challenges of teaching drama with sensible, down-to-earth advice and helpful tips drawn from the author's extensive experience
  • Helps teachers to work successfully with drama in their classroom in a rewarding, holistic way

This book will help teachers to work successfully with drama in their classroom in a rewarding, holistic way.

234 x 156 mm
Floris Books
Steiner-Waldorf Education
b/w line drawings
240 pages
Publication date:
19 May 2016


Drama, well-integrated into a curriculum, can bring empathy, excitement, expression and engagement into any lesson. This book will help teachers to work successfully with drama in their classroom in a rewarding, holistic way.

Beginning with a consideration of what it means to be a drama teacher -- whether for one lesson or a whole touring production -- this comprehensive book guides teachers through the challenges and the details, starting from breathing exercises and ice-breaker games to finding the right play for your age group and all aspects of rehearsal and staging. Packed full of sensible, down-to-earth advice, helpful tips and funny stories based on Nell Smyth's extensive experience, this is an invaluable one-stop handbook.

Throughout, this warm and practical book never forgets 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 Head of Cert H.E. (Southend Campus) East 15 Acting School

'Throughout the book the theory is presented and rationalised 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 which 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, LIPA (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 sudents.'
-- Mr 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 & 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

'practical tips and advice to design, plan and implement responsive ideas to work with children and young people. '
-- Dr Nicola Abraham, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

'I wish I'd had this book when I started my career as a Waldorf Class Teacher. For those in our schools today, this book fills a gap in the pedagogical literature -- and it's fun, creative and very well written.'
-- Carol Fegté, Mentor Teacher at Blue Oak Charter School, Chico, California

'My 9 year olds are presenting their play next week. I have worked for the past 4 weeks using Drama at the Heart. It has been the most wonderful book to accompany me on this new journey. I can't thank [the author] enough for the book and their excellent writing skills!! This book reads so well! I'm sharing it with all our staff.'
-- Todd, Waldorf Teacher, New Zealand


Nell Smyth has been a Steiner-Waldorf teacher and trainer for over twenty-five years in Europe and America. She has taught at primary, secondary and tertiary level and is involved in national education reform in Ireland, spearheading a cross-curricular active learning-based approach with drama at its heart. She has written many plays for children which have been included in the Irish National Association of Youth Drama repertoire. She currently teaches at ALFA (Raheen Wood Steiner Secondary School) in East Clare, Ireland.


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