FTMCTP-Contemporary Theatre and Performance Practices

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

Module Convenor: Dr Lisa Woynarski

Email: l.woynarski@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module will enable students to identify and develop an advanced understanding of the major trends and practices of contemporary theatre and performance at national and international levels, through selected case studies from mainstream musicals, to intermedial or site specific performance. Some of these case studies will be analysed on the basis of video and other documentation, and some will involve visits to selected performances in London, Reading and environs. A variety of key debates will be deployed to contextualise the performances conceptually, aesthetically, culturally and politically. Practical workshops will allow the students to experiment with performance strategies in order to engage practically with some of the performance strategies and critical debates raised on the module.


The module aims to enable students to develop an advanced understanding of the practices and cultural debates which have informed the development of contemporary theatre and performance in the UK and internationally. Students will be encouraged to understand the broad range of contexts in which selected examples of contemporary theatre and performance have developed and the variety of cultural social or political issues to which they have responded. The module will promote modes of analysis appropriate for examining specific live performances and practices. It will foster the advanced development of independent research and presentation skills.

Assessable learning outcomes:

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

  • • develop methods of performance analysis to take account of live performance including theatre, intermedial or site-specific events in a range of theatrical and non-theatrical contexts and locations;

  • • draw on a range of cultural, aesthetic and theoretical debates to identify, contextualise and analyse  the emergence of some of the major trends and practices of contemporary theatre and performance practices (including for example, devised performance) in the UK and internationally

  • • draw on relevant critical and theoretical material to develop sustained argument around key issues such as site specificity, intermediality and the positioning of the spectator;

  • • discuss models of performance and cultural analysis specific to case studies of contemporary theatre and performance practice;

  • • explore strategies of performance through practical experimentation and presentation, and develop methodologies for documenting and evaluating live theatre and devised performance.

Additional outcomes:

The module plays a significant role in the advanced development of oral communication and argument in group situations; deployment of research using printed and electronic resources; critical analysis and coherent argument; undertaking self-directed, independent work; presentation of written work using IT; presentation of practical exercises in groups; identifying and addressing problems in the analysis of performance.

Outline content:

The module will examine the emergence of some major trends and practices of late twentieth and early twenty first century in the UK and in selected international examples of theatre or live / devised performance. Taking account of cultural and historical context and varying institutional locations, it will engage with appropriate methodologies and vocabularies for the analysis and understanding of some of the current theatre and performance practices such as intermedial theatre, devised performance, site-specific performance, the musical etc. It will consider the social, political and aesthetic aims and contexts of specific case studies. The module will introduce vocabularies and models of cultural and performance analysis, including globalization, neoliberalism, performativity, phenomenological theories of the body and the positioning and experience of the spectator. Significant case studies of contemporary theatre performance will be explored both practically and theoretically, such as the work of key practitioners such as Robert Wilson, Thomas Ostermeier, Forced Entertainment, Robert Lepage, The Wooster group, Alecky Blythe, Pina Bausch, Station House Opera, The Builders Association, dANTEORdIE etc. 

Global context:

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

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Within a two hour seminar, a range of teaching styles will be used and may vary from week to week. Staff led content will provide contextual material and introduce issues for discussion and debate. Seminars will concentrate discussion of theoretical material, critical approaches and close analysis of performances, live (where possible), on DVD and evoked through written description. Occasional practical workshops will explore key methodologies and strategies. Seminars and workshops will require preparation in the form of screenings, critical reading and rehearsal. Presentations will be prepared by individuals or small groups for analysis and discussion. There will a charge for approximately two – three theatre visits. Depending on availability these may be local in London or another close town, in which case a travel cost will apply.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 12
Practicals classes and workshops 6
Supervised time in studio/workshop 4
External visits 10
Guided independent study 168
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Portfolio 40
Project output other than dissertation 30
Practical skills assessment 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The assessment will include a portfolio of theatre and performance analyses, and a documented performance.

Formative assessment methods:

Students will receive formative feedback on class presentations.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of failed coursework.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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