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Theatre in London Now: Histories


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Molly Flynn
  • Assessment: 1000 words plus examples of evidence (10%), 2000 words plus examples of evidence (40%), an hour-long group viva voce (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 Theatre in London Now: Histories, you will address these questions through an investigation of playtexts and performances spanning the ancient to the contemporary - from Athenian tragic drama to site-specific 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, musical theatre, and experimental performance. The playtexts you read and the performances you experience function as the basis of seminar discussions and assessment, supported throughout by critical readings and study skills sessions. Your work on Theatre in London Now: Histories provides an essential foundation for your development as a critic and opens out new possibilities for your engagement with theatrical performance.

indicative module content

  • Contemporary theatre in London
  • The history and context of theatre in London
  • Theories and vocabulary for the analysis of London theatre
  • Examples of performance staged in London
  • Theatre institutions and structures in London
  • Study skills
  • Playtexts and methodologies for the study of theatrical performance from the spectatorial perspective

Learning objectives

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

  • demonstrate knowledge of a range of theatrical practices in historical context
  • analyse historically situated theatre and performance techniques and their effects in performance
  • 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.