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Communities in Theatre and Performance (Critical Practice III)


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Louise Owen
  • Assessment: a 1000-word coursework exercise plus visual material (10%), performance presentation and 1500-word critical reflection of performance (40%) and a 2500-word essay (50%)

Module description

Communities in Performance (Critical Practice III) explores the multiple ways in which theatre functions as a locus of social gathering, identity formation, and educational and political practice. The module focuses on theatre practices in Britain from the 1970s onward, but shows how they embrace questions, histories and contexts from across the world. We will explore definitions of community, the processes by which communities are formed, and a series of related themes and concepts, including gender, sexuality, 'race', nation, communitas and anomie.

We will bring 'these concepts into dialogue with a range of contemporary theatre practices and methodologies, including: theatre for children and young people; community theatre, art and theatre-in-education; activist performance and protest; Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed; and documentary and verbatim theatre practices.

The module is taught through a weekly three-hour class involving practical group work, group research projects, discussion of screenings and performances, and independent practice, plus at least two essential theatre trips.

The module will raise a series of questions such as:

  • What is 'community'?
  • In what ways might theatre and performance be understood as techniques for producing or challenging 'community'?
  • How have theatre-makers approached 'community' as a concept and practice in different historical contexts?

      Learning objectives

      By the end of this module, you will be able to:

      • demonstrate knowledge of a range of theories of 'community' and related concepts
      • relate those theories and concepts to theatre practices and theories, seen in historical context
      • apply techniques of analysis and documentation in your own work, and to the performance work of others
      • engage in performance-making as both technique and outcome of research.