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EN9A7 Drama and Performance Theory

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 2014 the module will be taught on Mondays, 5-7 pm, though the week 1 introductory meeting is still tba.

Outline Syllabus
Week 1: Making Sense of the Stage (Dr Stephen Purcell)
Week 2: Spectatorship (Dr Stephen Purcell)
Week 3: Theatre as Structure: tragedy, ritual (Dr Teresa Grant)
Week 4: Theatre as Structure: comedy, tragicomedy (Dr Teresa Grant)
Week 5: Theatre and Embodiment I (Jonathan Heron, Senior Teaching Fellow, IATL)
Week 6: Theatre and Embodiment II (Jonathan Heron)
Week 7: Theatre as text (Dr Stephen Purcell)
Week 8: Theatre in Context: Gender/Power (Dr Teresa Grant, Dr Paul Prescott)
Week 9 and 10: Theatre in Context (Dr Teresa Grant, Dr Paul Prescott)
There will be a tie-in theatre trip to The White Devil during the last part of the course.


Illustrative Bibliography

Five primary texts, e.g.: Euripides, The Bacchae; Webster, The White Devil; Goldsmith She Stoops to Conquer; 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)
Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, EITHER ed. James Ogden (New Mermaids: Methuen, 2003) OR ed. Nigel Wood in She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008).
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.