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Theatre in London Now: Histories


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Bennett
  • Assessment: coursework of 1000 words (10%), coursework of 2000 words (40%) and a group viva (50%)

Module description

What is theatrical performance, and how do we interpret it as audiences? How does making and watching theatre relate to social, political and material context? And how might we analyse and write about theatrical performance?

In this module, you will address these questions through an investigation of playtexts and performances spanning the ancient to the contemporary - from Athenian tragic drama to performance staged in London today. The module provides a grounding in key moments in theatre history, cultivates close critical analysis of plays and performances, and offers access to essential research methods and skills.

You will explore key histories, contexts and conditions from across the world that inform theatre taking place in London now. You will examine the role of the spectator in the creation of meaning and survey a range of critical perspectives available for the analysis of performance. And you will encounter a range of dramatic forms and genres, including tragedy, medieval mystery plays, early modern drama, pantomime, naturalism and realism, Brechtian drama, documentary theatre, new writing, and experimental performance.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction: analysing theatre and performance
  • Spectatorship, social context and politics
  • Theatre spaces and the creation of meaning
  • Theatre architecture and audience reception
  • Writing workshop
  • Realism, performance and ideology
  • Epic theatre and political resistance
  • Social realism and new writing
  • Pantomime and popular performance, then and now, and writing workshop
  • Research and writing skills
  • Viva preparation

Learning objectives

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

  • identify and deploy a specific critical lens to explore examples of contemporary theatre practice in historical context
  • critically reflect upon a range of aspects of the theatre event
  • relate materials studied across the degree to select examples of contemporary theatre practice
  • demonstrate skills of research, critical reflection and writing.