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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 taken as a 36-CATS course). In 2018-19 the module will be taught on Mondays 5-7 pm.

Week 1: Making Sense of the Stage / Introduction (Paul Prescott) NB the reading for this week will be the introduction from Gerould (see below) and Freshwater's Theatre & Audience.

Week 2: Theatre and History (Matt Franks)

Week 3: Spectatorship (Stephen Purcell)

Week 4: Theatre as Structure: comedy (Stephen Purcell)

Week 5: Theatre as Structure: tragedy, ritual (Michael Meeuwis)

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: theatre trip to see Tartuffe at the RSC


The reading for each week will be advertised on the course Moodle; typically, we will be discussing one play or performance in relation to a number of theoretical texts.

The plays you will need to acquire and read for 2018-19 are:

Euripides, The Bacchae; Molière, Tartuffe; Samuel Beckett, Not I and Play; Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, An Octoroon. All of these aside from the last are available to Warwick students via Drama Online.

You will be provided with digital copies of most of the theoretical texts. However, you will need your own copies of the following:

Gerould, Daniel (2000) [ed.] Theatre/Theory/Theatre: the Major Critical Texts, New York: Applause Books. This is a key textbook for the module and will form the basis of multiple weeks' reading.

Freshwater, Helen (2009) Theatre and Audience, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.