Tuesday 20 April 2021

Code: 8460


This online course will offer a detailed, first-hand account of how the play Hard to Swallow came to be. Mark Wheeller will introduce the events that inspired the idea of the play and the varied influences that contributed to the play as it emerged and developed. Mark will discuss the play’s original performance conditions and give a definitive explanation of key scenes in order to enhance your teaching practice. Alongside Mark’s accounts, Ishani will offer practical and theoretical tips and suggestions for active play exploration in direct relation to the examination criteria, enabling students to produce confident and fully rounded response in their component three written examination.


  • A first hand opportunity to hear directly from a component three playwright in order to enrich your teaching and understanding of the play
  • Take away approaches that cultivate a deeper understanding of the themes leading to more imaginative student concepts
  • A confident insight into the original performance conditions and development of the play including rehearsal techniques
  • Equip you with strategies for students that were originally used to create the play
  • Examining C3 question types and recommended structure


  • Current WJEC/Eduqas GCSE Teachers opting for Hard to Swallow as their component three text
  • Teachers new to WJEC/Eduqas GCSE Drama or seeking to improve confidence teaching their Component three text


4.00-4.10pm: Welcome – Who are you and who are your students

4.10-4.30pm: An Introduction to Hard to Swallow – Mark Wheeller

  • Themes and Inspiration
  • Approaches to rehearsal and development
  • The original performance conditions
  • Character Investigation

4.30-4.50pm: Practical class-based suggestions – Ishani Thorpe

  • Ideas for introducing the text and capturing your class
  • Rehearsal Techniques and Practitioner based Tasks

4.50-5.00pm: Mini Plenary/Q and A

5.00-5.30pm: Practical and written class-based suggestions – Ishani Thorpe & Mark Wheeller

  • Themes, Direction and Design
  • Character focused exercises

5.30-5.50pm: The Component Three Exam

  • Breaking down questions/likely questions
  • Advise on structure and content
  • Exploring Concept Design Model responses

5.50-6.00pm: Q and A

  • A chance to have your Hard to Swallow and your Component Three specific Questions answered

Mark Wheeller

Mark is one of the most-performed living playwrights. Too Much Punch For Judy and Chicken! have been performed over 6,000 times.  His 2019 verbatim play Game Over, (grooming/murder of Breck Bednar) is published by Salamander Street and proves ideal as a socially distanced/Zoom play. Mark has written about his classroom/theatre work in Drama Schemes, The Story Behind TMPFJ & Hard to Swallow – Easy to Digest. His new book Verbatim – The Fun Of Making Theatre Seriously is due out early in 2021.  Mark’s most popular plays are now available on DVD. He runs practical workshops across the world.

Ishani Thorpe

Ishani is Head of Drama the Royal High School Bath. Ishani is an experienced Eduqas examiner in all three components. An outstanding teacher, Ishani has taught and prepared students for the Eduqas GCSE and A-level examinations for over eight years, achieving grades 7-9 year on year. In addition, Ishani is a founding member of the Band of Mothers ensemble and frequently writes, performs, and participates in theatre workshops with them.

Pearson A level Drama