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EN9A7 Drama and Performance Theory

street theatre montreal theatre

This module has been written to be a theoretical core course underpinning the English MA pathway Shakespeare and the British Dramatic Tradition, but all students on the MA are welcome to take it as an option. The aim of this module is to introduce students to drama and performance theory, by giving them the opportunity to explore and discuss some of the methodologies, debates and conceptual approaches to drama and performance, both current and historical. It will encourage students to consider these methodologies when reading primary material, and to this end five key primary texts are allotted for the module which will encourage dialectical consideration of theory and practice. There will normally be a tie-in theatre trip late in the course.

There will be one 2 hour seminar/workshop per week in the Autumn term, and the module will be assessed by a 6,000 word essay (or 8,000 if not taken as a theoretical core course). In 2017-18 the module will be taught on Mondays 5-7 pm in H0.05 (except for Week 1 when the session will run from 3-5pm).

Week 1: Making Sense of the Stage / Introduction (Paul Prescott)

Week 2: Spectatorship (Stephen Purcell)

Week 3: Theatre and Trauma (Anna Harpin)

Week 4: Theatre as Structure: tragedy, ritual (Michael Meeuwis)

Week 5: Theatre as Structure: comedy, tragicomedy (Tess Grant)

Week 6: Theatre and Embodiment (Liz Barry)

Week 7: Semiotics (Stephen Purcell)

Week 8: Text and Performativity (Stephen Purcell)

Week 9 and 10: Theatre in Context: Institutions and Spaces / Reviewing Performance (Paul Prescott)

NB c.Week 9: Monday 27th November, 7pm: Trip to see IMPERIUM, PART ONE at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Illustrative Bibliography

Three primary texts, e.g.: Euripides, The Bacchae; Webster, The White Devil; Beckett, Not I and Play.

You will need to buy (or otherwise gain access to):
Aristotle, The Poetics in any modern translation but you may wish to buy Classical Literary Criticism, tr. Penelope Murray and T. Dorsch (Oxford World’s Classics, 2004) because it contains other material of interest.
Samuel Beckett, Play and Not I, published by Faber in any number of collections, such as The Complete Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett (2012) or Collected Shorter Plays (2006) or Krapp's Last Tape and Other Shorter Plays (2012).
Euripides’ The Bacchae, tr. David Greig (Faber, 2007).
Daniel Gerould (ed.), Theatre/Theory/Theatre: the Major Critical Texts (Applause Books, 2000)
John Webster, The White Devil, ed. Christina Luckyj (New Mermaids; Methuen, 2008).
Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: the Human Seriousness of Play (PAJ Publications, 1982).
Helen Freshwater, Theatre & Audience (Palgrave: 2009).

Course extracts as set by the tutors week by week above AND a select further reading list.