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Theories of Theatricality and Performance


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Professor Fintan Walsh
  • Assessment: coursework exercise of 1000 words (0%), a 2000-word essay (40%) and a 3500-word essay (60%)

Module description

Building upon the skills of analysis developed in the first year core module, Theatre Languages, the second year compulsory module, Theories of Theatricality and Performance, introduces some of the major debates in performance theory and practice from the late nineteenth century to date.

The first half of the module will focus upon the relationship between theatrical function and representational form, examining the propositions theatre-makers and critics have made regarding theatre practice and its social, educational and aesthetic effects.

The second half of the module will explore definitions of the nature of theatre and performance offered by theorists and theatre-makers, raising questions about 'liveness', 'mediation', 'performativity' and the ways in which racial, sexual and national identities come to be constructed.

The module will draw upon the work of a wide range of theorists, practitioners and critics, and analysis of three contemporary productions will form the basis of discussion in three seminars, providing opportunities to apply theoretical debates to current performance practice.

You will undertake at least two theatre trips, which are essential to the course of study.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • show awareness of the range and variety of key critical and theoretical debates in theatre and performance studies
  • be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of key practitioners and theorists and their cultural and historical contexts
  • be able to research, describe, theorise, interpret and evaluate performance texts and performance events from a range of critical and theoretical perspectives.