FT2RFT-Radical Forms and Practices in Theatre

Module Provider: Film, Theatre and TV
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Mr Matt Mcfrederick

Email: m.mcfrederick@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module develops the critical issues and debates in theatre introduced earlier in the degree, in order to explore radical, alternative and avant-garde practices of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. The module establishes the significance of modernist and avant-garde practices for the development of experimentation in theatre, influenced by the art and cultural contexts of the early twentieth century, including for example, Cubism, Surrealism, Symbolism and Expressionism. From here the module will consider key theories and concepts, texts and performances that mark twentieth century’s radical and experimental theatre, including its concerns with questions of language, performativity, liveness and globalisation, framed by political and cultural debates. The module will examine the twenty first century’s focus on the concept of the postdramatic which challenges traditional notions of theatre space, location and form and opens up performance contexts to include installations, multimedia, site responsive performance and performance art.


The module aims to develop a critical and conceptual understanding of radical forms and practices of theatre and performance that challenge mainstream conventions through experimental and oppositional work; to develop an understanding of the postdramatic; to introduce theoretical perspectives that will enable students to find new and appropriate approaches to the analysis of experimental texts, performances and practices; to consider, conceptually and theoretically, the cultural and critical significance of innovation in theatre and performance.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

- work with forms of analysis appropriate for discussing and interpreting experimental theatre texts and performance, as well as texts which challenge the boundaries of theatre and performance (for example film, installations, performance art, video and computer art, digital and multimedia performance);

- develop critical arguments based on the history and analysis of radical and alternative theatre and performance, and the synthesis of theory and practice;

- articulate an understanding of the ways in which historical and current critical and cultural theories impact upon theatre and performance practices and intersect with recent critical approaches to performance analysis;

- identify the specific concerns of the post-dramatic within twenty first century culture;

- relate recent innovation in theatre and performance practice to developments in other art forms (for example film, dance, music, live art, computer art, video art).

Additional outcomes:

The third year Advanced Practical Project or Dissertation often draws on knowledge and ideas introduced by this module, and its ideas often inform the Practical Project or Independent Project at Part 2. Furthermore, the module extends skills and competencies which are central to the degree. It is expected that the level of skills and competencies achieved be appropriate to the level of study: oral communication and debate in a group context; library usage to assist in self-directed, independent research; appropriate deployment of research using a wide range of printed and electronic resources: critical analysis and coherent argument; presentation of written work using IT; identifying and addressing problems which have a relationship to both film and theatre texts and contexts.

Outline content:

This module explores a range of practices and ideas which, consciously or unconsciously, are in opposition to the dominant conventions of theatre and performance. Taking the relationship between 'modernism' the avant-garde and twentieth/twenty first century theatre and performance as its broad context, and drawing attention to recent developments in critical theory, the module explores issues such as the postdramatic, reflexivity and narrative deconstruction, autobiography and memory, cultural identity, performance and performativity. The programme varies from year to year to take account of current practice and critical debate, but practitioners frequently studied include playwrights such as Alfred Jarry, Gertrude Stein, Jean Genet, Marguerite Duras, Frank Wedekind, Luigi Pirandello, Deborah Levy, and practitioners such as Ai Weiwei, Senga Nengudi, Forced Entertainment, Lorraine O’Grady, Pina Bausch and The Wooster Group. It takes account of live performances by contemporary companies and practitioners, current at the time of the module.

Global context:

The module explores theatre and performance in an international context. It refers to forms of practice and examples of work from across the world.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures will introduce the students to new theoretical concepts and critical approaches which will be tested out in seminars in the exploration of theatre texts. Workshops in theatre will complement seminars and enable the students to explore the visual elements of theatre texts. Screenings and visits to performances and galleries are an integral part of the module. There will be a charge for approximately two theatre visits. Depending on availability these may be local, in London or another close town, in which case a travel cost will also apply.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 9
Seminars 13.5
Supervised time in studio/workshop 36
Guided independent study 141.5
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall. 

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Resubmission of coursework. 

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 6 December 2018


    Things to do now