Practitioners in Context (DRA1009)

StaffDr Bryan Brown - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to enrich your understanding of twentieth-century Western theatre history. It aims to teach you about historiography, i.e. how history is made, and how you can analyse the theatrical past and offer your own ideas and questions about it. It further aims to provide space for you to explore and discuss how to apply this historical thinking to your own developing performance practice.

In addition to learning about content, you will learn how to analyse different kinds of text and evidentiary sources, and how to combine these analyses to form a scholarly argument. You will work independently and in a small group to do this.

You will be introduced to lots of new ideas and practices in this module. Your learning will be guided, but you should also learn how to make sense of this material for yourself. This involves learning how to engage with the assigned reading, how to attend in lectures, and how to participate in seminar discussion.

The module also aims to demonstrate that the history under survey is not only of academic interest but continues to have contemporary relevance. Ideally, you will become passionate about one or more of the featured practitioners and may be inspired by them!

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate familiarity with the ideas, work, and historical significance of selected theatre practitioners
  • 2. Analyse different kinds of text and evidentiary sources relating to theatre history
  • 3. Use evidentiary and scholarly sources to answer a historiographical research question

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Develop basic library and IT skills (in independent additional research)
  • 5. Develop confidence in the ability to contribute research to small groups in effective presentations and to evaluate visual evidence (and analyse, critique and manipulate complex material)

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Develop basic personal research skills; (using personal initiative; to set personal objectives) to identify and evaluate at a basic level personal learning strategies
  • 7. Collaborate in various groups and group sizes, develop confidence in (to learn elements of) aspects of teamwork and presentation
  • 8. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback and to develop confidence in (and improve) communication skills and simple analytic abilities in discussions

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year,  each week you will have a lecture and a seminar that focus on one or more theatre practitioners from the late nineteenth century onward. You will also meet in independent Study Groups each week to discuss your understanding and experience of specific assignments set by your tutors. These will often be practical exercises to further develop your thinking about your own performance practice.

Examples of practitioners who may feature on the module include:  Antoine, Appia, Bausch, Beckett, Brecht, Craig, Duncan, Graham, Grotowski, Littlewood, Meyerhold, Parks, Piscator, Rimini Protokol, Stanislavsky, Svoboda, Tempest, Wilson, The Wooster Group, Zarrilli

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Lectures and seminars
Guided Independent Study267Individual and group work

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation15 - 20 minutes1-8Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation 20Continuous1-2, 5-8Written feedback
Portfolio80Recorded presentation (15-20 minutes, duration appropriate to group size); 2000-word essay1-8Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ParticipationRepeat Study or Mitigation1-2, 5-8N/A
PortfolioPortfolio1-8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • M. Bly (2001) The Production Notebooks, Volume II, New York: Theatre Communications Group.
  • D.Bradby and D.Williams (1988) Directors' Theatre, Basingstoke: Macmillan
  • E.Braun (1982) The Director and the Stage, London: Methuen
  • P. Howard (2002) What is Scenography?, London: Routledge
  • R. Leach (2004).Makers of Modern Theatre: An Introduction. London: Routledge
  • S.Mitter (1992) Systems of Rehearsal, London: Routledge
  • M.Vanden Heuvel (1991) Performing Drama/Dramatizing Performance, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
  • P Zarrilli, B. McConachie, G.J. Williams, C. Fisher Sorgenfrei (2010), 2nd Edition, Theatre Histories, London and New York: Routledge

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Key words search

Modern theatre, theatre practitioners, theatre history, theatre historiography