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SEL1031 : Drama, Theatre & Performance

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Rosalind Haslett
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Theatre performance is always a social event: it is a creative act, in which real people and objects are presented to other people in a shared space. Performance analysis, therefore, requires different skills than literary criticism. This module is designed to provide an introduction to the analysis and performance of drama.
It has three main aims:
•       to engage with drama as a performance medium as well as a form of literature
•       to explore and contextualise a range of performance conventions, thinking about bodies, objects, space and the role of the audience
•       to engage in participatory practice and group learning in order to analyse dramatic texts through performance and rehearsal techniques.

Throughout the module, students will be encouraged to approach drama as a performance medium — that is, an event which takes place within a specific time, space and locale. Dramatic texts may be looked at as much for information about the modes and places of performance that are implied within them, as for the ideas and themes they seek to represent.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will explore how different theatrical conventions work by looking at a number of specific examples drawn from contemporary theatre practice. Content may alter from year to year, but an indicative syllabus might include: plays which work to engage the audience in different ways; plays which make use of specific performance forms or genre (e.g. comedy); plays which are meta-theatrical or work to interrogate what it means to ‘perform’.

The module will introduce students to some of the key concerns relating to the analysis of drama, theatre and performance. First, we will consider how one might read a play text with careful attention to the material elements of performance (costume, set, onstage/offstage characters, etc.), as well as to what characters are doing as well as saying. Second, we will consider the way in which the play text is framed by the theatre event, considering in some detail the roles that the theatre space and location, as well as the audience, play in making meaning in the theatre. Finally, we will explore the techniques associated with analysing performance (as opposed to text). Specific subjects of study may include:
the role of the audience;
the significance of space, place and location;
performance conventions and acting style;
costumes, props, scenery and other theatrical ephemera.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture161:0016:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion155:0055:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops111:3016:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork13:303:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity81:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1100:00100:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

In the first two thirds of this module, teaching will consist of two one-hour lectures, and a single one and a half hour workshop each week. The lectures will introduce students to a range of theatrical conventions, which are associated with contemporary theatre practice. Students will be required to participate in workshop activities and at the end of this section of the module they will devise and lead an activity of their own for in-class assessment (25%).

Students will continue to attend a one and a half hour workshop each week until week eleven. This workshop time will be used to prepare for the scene study showings (25%), which will be presented and assessed during class time. These workshops will also provide students with an opportunity to present work-in-progress and to develop their peer review skills. The module convenor is available to consult during a dedicated drop-in surgery in the final week of the module, before submission of the final portfolio in week twelve.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2M2515 minute oral presentation or 1,250 words or a combination of oral/written -- leading a class activity
Portfolio2A2515 minute oral presentation or 1,250 words or a combination of oral/written - sharing of practical scene study work
Portfolio2A501500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-module practical portfolio requires students to work in groups to plan a workshop activity related to the practical interrogation of a section of a play text. Students will subsequently produce a short written reflection on their workshop, discussing the practical choices that they have made and the relative effectiveness of these choices. This work will enable students to demonstrate the practical knowledge they have acquired through seminar/ workshop participation workshops and analyse the application of the skills they have developed.

The end of module practical portfolio will follow on from the previous practical workshop challenging students to develop a short scene study piece applying performance strategies to analysis of a section of play text. This scene study will require students to demonstrate their awareness of the theatrical conventions underpinning one of the play texts covered in the module. Students will be required to submit a written reflection on the scene study in order to critically assess the effectiveness of their practical methods

The final portfolio will provide an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned through practical exploration to written analysis. This analysis will focus on a piece of performance which they have observed over the course of the module.

Reading Lists