Drama is one of the most popular subjects among young people under the age of 18; although the subject is usually compulsory up until the age of 14, an increasing amount of students are taking it up as a GCSE option while the subject remains popular among A-Level students too.

This means that schools have an obligation to provide their students with suitable facilities for studying and performing drama. This isn’t easy as these spaces need to be suitable for working – such as writing essays and scripts or devising productions in groups – and performance.

While some schools benefit from multi-million pound purpose built studios, most schools have to make use of a space that wasn’t originally designed for performance purposes, such as a hall or a large classroom. Luckily, setting up your own drama studio isn’t as hard as it may seem. Here are five staging essentials you’ll need to ensure your budding Olivier’s and Streep’s get top grades.

A Good Sound System

A system which costs a lot of money and produces potentially disruptive noise is bound to a hard sell to any head teacher, but choosing suitable sound systems for stage purposes is an essential part of constructing your dream school drama studio.

Your sound system needn’t cost the Earth either; you’ll need a couple of speakers and a PA but only enough to produce a good level and quality of sound within your studio. Sound is a vitally important part of any production so the benefit to your students is obvious. It also allows you to play your students inspirational music as they devise their latest masterpieces.

Projection Tools

Most schools will already have a projection system; however, usually this consists of a retro overhead projector that relies on marker pens and plastic sheets.

Theatre projection systems play a massive role in contemporary performance and giving your students the equipment necessary to fully grasp and experiment with the concept of projection is essential. A good projection setup will consist of a projection screen and a projector capable of playing moving images as well as ‘slides’.

To maximise the benefit of your projector (and make it a more appealing financial proposition to your superiors), consider investing in a portable projector that can be used in multiple locations for subjects other than drama.

Stage Lighting

It should go without saying that no performance space is complete without a stage lighting set-up. A performance without any changes in lighting is rare and to neglect stage lights in your school studio set-up would be to deprive your students of a vital part of their dramatic education. Stage lights also work well in a working environment to set a certain mood to inspire your students.

An adequate school lighting setup doesn’t need to rival that of a multi-million pound rock concert or even that of a medium-sized theatre. In fact, a single bar of about five lights is fine. Don’t forget to accompany your lights with a good control system too – ideally, this will be easy enough to use for beginners while also having more advanced capabilities for any aspiring lighting designers in your classroom. Also invest in gels and filters to give your performances some variety.


Drapes play a vital role in any school drama studio; they help control the acoustics of a studio, block out any disruptive outside light sources and generally give your performance space a more professional vibe. They also allow you to split your space into sections, giving each of the groups in your class a space in which to devise their work privately.

Again, drapes in a school studio don’t need to be complex – a simple set of black stage curtains on a manual rail would do fine. Make sure that any curtain setups you invest in are easy and relatively inexpensive to replace as accidents do happen, especially with overexcited children charging around!


In modern theatre, the stage has become more than just a raised block in front of an audience; instead, it has become something to experiment with. Therefore, you need to provide your students with staging that can be easily assembled and moved around so they can play around with the height and width of their performance space.

Safety will be a primary concern when using mobile stage engineering, so you’ll need to get a lightweight staging solution – something such as rostra blocks are easy to disassemble for transport and can be put together in a wide variety of ways. For aesthetic purposes, you can drape material over the top of the blocks.

No two school drama studios will be the same and obviously budget and the space made available to you make for a massive consideration when planning your studio. However, above all else, you should consider the five items above essential. For more info on fitting out a school studio and quotations, get in touch with PG Stage.


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