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EN343 Drama, Performance and Identity Post 1955


This module will ask to students to think of the many ways in which “drama”, “performance” and “identity” are connected and intertwined in late 20th/early 21st century culture. The module will seek to illuminate notions such as the nature of individual identity broadly, national identity, bodily identity, gender identity, racial identity, and spiritual identity. The more recent material will be used to reflect both upon the increasing prominence of consumer, hybrid, border, and marginal identities, and the notion that identity can shift, that it can be fragmented, and that a variety of identities can exist simultaneously. Students will be required to read a minimum of 1 play per week alongside relevant critical material. Students should also be prepared to work in IATL's "open" spaces in a practical way that embodies their knowledge. No acting skills are required, however, and students with no “theatrical” experience at all are welcome to join. The first term’s work will involve 9 x 2-hour sessions in IATL's spaces, and the second term will involve independent guided study.

Please read Endgame by Tuesday 4th October.


Term One:

Unit 1: Intellectual and Theoretical Background

Week 1: The 1950s. Beckett and the Modernist “I”

Unit 2: Racial Identity

Week 2: The 1960s. Jean Genet, Adrienne Kennedy

Unit 3: Towards Postmodern Identities

Week 3: The 1970s. Beckett and the Postmodernist “I”

Week 4: The 1980s. Heiner Muller

Unit 4: Postmodern Identities

Week 5: The 1980s/90s. Suzan Lori-Parks, Caryl Churchill

Week 6 : Reading Week

Unit 5: Capitalist Identitities, Border/Transgressive Identities, Globalised Identity

Week 7: The 1990s and beyond. Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane.

Week 8: The 1990s and beyond. Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Orlan

Week 9: The 1990s and beyond. Tony Kushner

Week 10: The 1990s and beyond. Debbie Tucker Green, Jez Butterworth


Term Two: Practical and Independent Study

In order to develop their own “performance project” in term 2, students will be divided into groups of 4 or 5 and encouraged to use both the theoretical materials and primary texts from the 1st term to create a practical “performance piece" n.b. this NEED NOT be a “play”, nor need it involve any “acting” – although these are perfectly acceptable methods of presentation. The idea is that students show their learning using means other than writing. Students will attend tutorials consisting of project review and journal monitoring. The final element in the assessment process is the viva: a discussion of up to 30 minutes of the project, and the individual’s contribution to it, with the student and seminar tutor. Final grades are calculated from the various marks received for the performance, viva, and essay.

Week 1: Submission of assessed essay. Meetings with groups to finalise performance proposals

Week 2: Individual Monitoring

Week 3: Individual Monitoring

Week 4: Individual Monitoring

Week 5: Project Review. Each group’s performance to be discussed with the tutor

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7: Individual Monitoring

Week 8: Further guidance

Week 9: Further guidance

Week 10: Final Project Review and guidance on performance videos, and conducting vivas


Term 3: Final Assessment

Week 1: Recorded performances. Vivas

Week 3: Submission of reflective journals


Assessment will be by 1 X 3,500-5,000 word essay (40%), and a performance piece, viva and reflective journal (60%). The performance piece, viva and reflective journal constitute an exam for the purposes of weighting.

Text Books


Beckett, Samuel. Collected Shorter Plays, Endgame

Butterworth, Jez. Jerusalem

Churchill, Caryl. Plays 2, The Skriker

Crimp, Martin. Attempts on Her Life

Genet, Jean. The Blacks: A Clown Show

Gomez-Peña, Guillermo. The New World Border

Kennedy, Adrienne. Adrienne Kennedy in One Act

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America

Lori-Parks, Suzan. The America Play and Other Works

Müller, Heiner. Hamletmachine and Other Texts for the Stage

Tucker Green, Debbie. Stoning Mary



Material from Hegel, Lacan, Richard Rorty, Galen Strawson, and Theodor Adorno, amongst others, will be distributed on a weekly basis



Allain, Paul, and Jen Harvie. The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance

Boal, Augusto. Games for Actors and Non-actors

Goldberg, RoseLee. Performance Art from Futurism to Present