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Contemporary Performance Practices

Module Code: TH113
Module Name: Contemporary Performance Practices
Module Credits: 30

Class Location and Time: 0900-1800 G53 and G52

Module outline

Through tutor-led workshops, seminar discussions, and presentations, this first-year core module will introduce you to a range of contemporary devised performance practices, such as site-specific performance, performance art, physical theatre, autobiographical performance, performance interventions, walking performance, and various forms of multi-media performance. You will explore these practices through your own practice, through watching DVDs and examining web-based and written documentation of theatre and performance, and, where possible, through theatre visits and artist-led workshops. During the year, you will experiment with various approaches to creating devised performance, and you will improve your own critical and creative responses to work seen and discussed.

Learning Outcomes

The module proceeds through discussions, hands-on practical work, and collaborative devising processes. By the end of the module you will have:

  • Considered the inter-relationship between theory and practice in creative making processes
  • Developed an awareness of key conceptual and creative processes that underpin the realisation of creative projects
  • Contributed to the generation and realisation of a range of creative projects through an understanding of appropriate practical skills, techniques and performance vocabularies
  • Developed skills in verbal communication, collaborative working and problem-solving


1. Sound (Michael Pigott)

This unit will explore the potentials of sound recording and sound design as narrative, dramatic and experiential tools. We will focus on the relationship between sound and space, by developing our attention to environmental soundscapes, and experimenting with methods for reproducing sonic spaces and experiences within the black box studio, as the intensely personal space of headphones. We will playfully interrogate the ‘liveness’ of sound, illusions of presence, and the way that multiple layers of time may be combined and moved between.

2. Ensemble Practices (Jonathan Heron and guest practitioners)

This unit will focus upon ensemble theatre practices in relation to contemporary performance-making. Detailed practical activities will be combined with written materials in order to engage with ensemble work from the perspective of practice. The contact time will be delivered over three workshops and a theatre festival that will focus upon devising through ensemble-based practice. Each workshop will offer a different ‘way in’ to devising within an ensemble, and the unit will consider different and diverse practices within theatre collectives.

Further information:

WAC Emerge Festival:

IATL Student Ensemble:

Barrel Organ Theatre:

FellSwoop Theatre:

3. Senses in Performance (Carmen Wong)

The Senses in Performance unit will attend to sensory experiences, to explore these as places for informing content in devising processes, and/or to invite audiences to participate in sensate performances. We will research, discuss and present embodied summaries of contemporary works we have experienced, exercise and experiment with creating performance installations.

4. Autobiography and Performance (Anna Harpin)

This unit will explore the relationship between identity and performance. It will examine the self as a starting point for making theatre and performance. Together we will take a playful approach towards using our bodies, memories, and life histories as the raw materials from which to devise new work. We will consider questions of authenticty, realism, and the politics of personhood. By the end of the unit you will have a developed new strategies for and understandings of performing the self.


The module is assessed through a variety of practical exams that draw on the techniques learned in the units. More complete briefing details for each of the practical exams will be distributed closer to the individual assessment dates.

Assessment Breakdown:
25% Practical Exam 1 (All Day Tuesday 28th November, Week 9, Autumn Term)
25% Practical Exam 2 (All Day Tuesday 6th February, Week 5, Spring Term)
50% Practical Exam 3 (All Day, Friday 1st June, Week 6, Summer Term)

Full Assessment Criteria

Departmental Assessment Deadlines

Module Convenor:

Dr Anna Harpin

Unit Tutors:

Dr Michael Pigott (Autumn)
Dr Jonathan Heron (Autumn)

Carmen Wong (Spring)

Dr Anna Harpin (Spring)

Module Resources

Assessment Criteria
Attendance List (staff only)
Reading List

Unit 1 Project Groups