This course will consolidate student knowledge by addressing various methodological approaches to the indepth analysis of representation in plays, films and television. It will start with the broad question ‘why analyse a representation?’ and go on to explore a range of different approaches to ‘how to analyse plays’. We will debate the seeming shift away from close textual play analysis within British drama curriculums and academic research and examine how such research trends reflect developments in contemporary approaches to researching playwriting as practice.
The course will look at approaches to in-depth analysis of a range of plays from different genres and periods across British theatre history both as texts and in relation to contemporary productions. We will examine ways of generating appropriate/sustainable research questions around play analysis, ways of situating plays and performance analyses within social, political, emotional and theatrical contexts and examine theoretical approaches and resources that can be used to support in-depth explorations of plays and productions. Genres examined might include analysing Shakespeare, analysing contemporary British new writing (social realism, women’s/feminist theatre, verbatim plays, black plays, adaptation), analysing biographical/historical plays, analysing plays in translation, dependent on student interests in a given year.
Theoretical approaches will include analysing play structures (e.g. character, plot, narrative), analysing form, analysing the politics of performance, feminist approaches to play analysis, analysing gender, race, and sexuality, close textual analysis, contextual analysis, analysing plays in production (e.g. stage action, design), analysing production archives (e.g. promptbooks, photographs, design notes, interviews), using theoretical frameworks and theatre reviews in play analysis, analysing audiences, and understanding plays through the lenses of contemporary social debates and issues.
The course is designed for students wishing to focus their dissertations on plays of specific genres, periods, playwrights or companies, and can also be modified to be suitable for students wishing to prepare dissertations on representation in film and/or television.