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More in this section Prospective undergraduates

Structure and Modules

IMG_9714When you study Drama at Royal Holloway, you’re undergoing a rigorous education that combines critical and creative approaches to theatre and performance. We consider the two approaches essential and complementary with every course in the first two years combining them equally. In your third year you can choose to focus on one or the other.

We offer lectures only in parts of the foundation courses you’ll take in your first year. The basic teaching method is the seminar/workshop, a class which lasts for two to three hours and contains about 18-22 students. This allows the teaching to move freely between exposition (with visual aids as required), workshop exercises and informal discussions. This ensures there is a constant interplay between theory and practice. Well-prepared students do much to teach each other.

Assessment

teaching and assessment

Assessment takes a variety of forms, according to the needs of the different subject areas. The only mode we don’t use in year two and three is the formal timed exam. Instead, in a normal course unit you’re assessed on two pieces of work – one of which is usually an essay or comparable piece of critical writing. The other might be a seminar presentation or a practical performed work. You’re often assessed as part of a group but individually moderated after your first year. Through your second and third year you accumulate the marks that make up your final degree.


The Drama and Theatre Studies degree is developmental, beginning with a first year that introduces four distinct pathways through study and practice of theatre.

You’ll explore methods of rehearsal and theatrical creation and the work of a key theatre company or practitioner. A second course will give you a range of tools and experiences for examining the role of text in performance, from play texts to performance, from reviewing to playwriting.

You’ll also take a look at a wide array of ways in which theatre and culture interrelate in a number of cultures and contexts. Finally you’ll consider ways in which theatre can illuminate and is illuminated by neighbouring disciplines from philosophy to physics.

DT1100 - Theatre and Performance-Making

Theatre and Performance Making is about working in collaboration with others and devising an original performance. Most of your undergraduate work will involve group work. To that end, please read Malcolm Gladwell's essay "Group Think" from the US magazine The New Yorker. In it, he describes what it was like to work as a cast on the popular American television show Saturday Night Live. The second item is a journal article that features contextual notes, ideas and information about Tim Etchell's (Forced Entertainment) production of Instructions for Forgetting. The text of the performance is also included in the article. Please notice how they write about their process, devising ideas and how that helps frame how you engage with the text of the performance.

DT1200 - Theatre and Text

This course is designed to equip you with critical and creative skills for engaging with theatrical texts of various kinds. We will consider multiple relationships between page and stage, looking at the evolution and diversity of the performance text, as well as various methods and principles developed to generate performance texts across a broad historical, cultural and stylistic range.

We’ll explore the wide variety of choices available to all theatre makers – actors, directors, performers, designers, and more – in working on staging performance texts, asking questions about how meaning is produced on the page and in performance, the possibilities and limits of interpretation, and the dynamics of working with text. The course will also consider how performance can generate text: considering, for example, the archive of performance (in reviews and other documents), and the different stylistic methods that students and others can use – and have used – to engage with performance, critically and creatively.

DT1300 - Theatre and Culture

Although it is one course, Theatre & Culture really consists of two very different sections – one taken in the Autumn term, and the other in the Spring term.

In the first term, we will explore the relationships between theatre, performance and cultural identity. How might performance establish ideas of nation, community and national culture? Many countries (including Britain) have a National Theatre, but what does this actually represent? Can you ever represent an entire nation and its culture through theatre?

The second term moves the course on to a new area: an overview of performance studies and its relationship to theatre studies. We might consider performance and theatre to be fairly interchangeable terms, but in fact they have very different uses. Contemporary practitioners increasingly seek to situate their work across different types of performance, and we will look at how and why this is done.

DT1400 - Theatre and Ideas

Theatre & Ideas is an interdisciplinary course. That means that we will explore how ideas from other disciplines can illuminate our critical and creative engagement with theatre and performance and how, in turn, theatre and performance can inform and interrogate other areas of life.

Theatre & Ideas will take you beyond the vocabulary of theatre and into the terrain of philosophy, critical theory, economic theory, cultural and literary studies, politics, science, and so on, but always with a view to probing how these offer a toolbox of ideas to equip you for the study and practice of theatre. In the Autumn term we will explore a range of ideas, grouped under four broad themes:

  1. Ethics and Actions;
  2. Capitalism and Commodification;
  3. The Body and Society; and
  4. Imperialism and Language.

We’ll spend two weeks on each, the first week being oriented toward discussion of critical readings, and the second being concerned with exploration of a play or performance text.

You’ll build on the foundation laid in your first year by going into much greater depth in particular areas. You can specialise in a specific area of theatre practice, such as playwriting, directing, designing, physical theatre or devising.

You’ll explore cultures and contexts in which the theatre engages with the world – whether that’s political theatre, theatre in education or intercultural and indigenous theatres from across the world. You’ll also dig deeper into the complexities of theatrical texts, looking at work in a particular genre, period or culture, from Ancient Greek to contemporary British theatre.

And you’ll look further at the ways our understanding of the theatre is informed by debates elsewhere in the faculty, with an emphasis on philosophical aesthetics, which asks fascinating and unresolved questions about the nature of theatre.

DT2100 - Theatre & Performance-Making 2

Building on DT1100 Theatre & Performance-Making, students examine specific traditions and disciplines of theatre and performance. You will explore one specific area of contemporary theatre practice. This exploration will involve both critical exploration and creative practice. The course is taught through lectures and workshops.

Playwriting

This course will give students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the art and craft of playwriting. Students will develop a portfolio of collaborative and solo writing for performance while also discussing and interrogating the work of published playwrights alongside those of their peers.

In the first term, we will explore fundamental dramaturgical principles like structure, scenes, dialogue, subtext, and character. In the second term, we will focus on developing the students’ own work through workshop and seminar discussion. Students will work in groups on a collaborative play, which will receive a rehearsed reading, while also working on a short individually-written piece.

Physical Theatre

An actor walks on stage and stands before the audience saying nothing and yet engaging them totally. How can this happen? How does one train an actor to be able to achieve this quality of presence? This course aims to answer such questions. We shall focus on a range of traditions and approaches that emphasise the voice and body as the principle resources for the actor in constructing a performance text.

In the first term students will follow a training programme that draws on Tai Chi and Chi Gung, amongst arange of other disciplines. Discussions will explore readings from Laban and Chekhov, Grotowski, Artaud and others. In this way will we examine the theoretical aspects of actor-training in the field of Physical Theatre. In the second term the focus will turn to ways of composition: lessons in the first half of term will focus on creating performance studies; in the second half students will work on creating their own pieces of work.

Site-Based Performance

With particular reference to theatre, dance and other art practices, the course will explore site-based performance practices from the 1960s to the present, focusing on recent models in contemporary Britain, and core theorists and writers in relation to place, space, context, site-specificity and performance.

We will develop a ‘tool-kit’ of approaches to sites, using a variety of strategies for working with a site as an active ‘material' in devising processes. A number of different sites on campus and elsewhere will be investigated. In the Spring Term, students will work towards devised group projects in sites of their choosing in proximity to the department. Assessment is through research essay (50%), and performance/practical project with viva and process log (50%).

Dance Theatre

In this option students will explore a range of dance theatres with a special emphasis on the integration of movement and text. Seminars will address the variety of ways that practitioners have chosen to bring text and movement into creative dialogue, using scores, play texts, choreography and movement processes. They will examine the values and principles that drive such experimentation and reflect on the historical, political and cultural contexts within which these practitioners worked.

Each session will include both discussion and workshop activities associated with one or two practitioners, with the final weeks devoted to developing small group performance devised in response to selected texts and styles of movement/dance. Examples of artists and companies to be included are: Caryl Churchill’s dance dramas with choreographer Ian Spink, Pina Bausch, Jasmin Vardimon Company, Frantic Assembly, DV8, Theatre Ad Infinitum and Complicite.

Acting for Camera

In this course, students will analyse and practically explore the difference between stage work and acting for camera.

In the first term, students will have weekly sessions in the drama department with workshop and discussion activities designed to explore different techniques developed for acting for camera in contrast to those for staged performances, considering issues of face, voice, gesture and appeal to audiences. The first term will culminate in a written reflection on these differences. In the second term, students will work in the department of Media Arts, working on a range of short films to be screened at the end of the year.

Scenography

Understanding, responding to and making space for theatre to happen is a central concern for designers, and through the study of visual composition and visual language, students will explore the role of spatial design in a performance context.

Drawing on the work of a variety of practitioners, students will be encouraged to experiment and test out design ideas in a series of practical and performance workshops focusing on textual analysis, space and place, object, performer and spectator. This research will culminate in an assessed design proposal for a performance. Students are advised that an ability to draw well is not a pre-requisite to taking this course.

DT2200 - Theatre & Text 2

Building on DT1200 Theatre & Text, this course engages with theatre texts, and relations between textuality, theatre and performance, in specific contexts, styles, periods or cultures. At the beginning of the course, students have the opportunity to compare different kinds of theatrical texts and contexts, drawing out the cultural, historical, stylistic or functional differences between different approaches to theatre and textuality.

Students will also explore a specialist area of work, drawing on the particular expertise of the course staff. Students explore this specialist area both critically, through discussion and essay writing, and creatively, culminating in a group performance.

Staging the Real

From the naturalist stage of the late nineteenth century to contemporary verbatim performance, theatre practitioners have frequently sought to represent social reality in order to critique it. We’ll explore the methods and implications of theatre’s ‘reality-effects’ and consider why it is that so many theatre companies and practitioners have turned to documentary, verbatim and other forms of reality-based performance in recent years. We’ll study a contrasting range of plays and performance texts, and build a strong awareness of the politics, possibilities and limitations of ‘staging the real’.

Contemporary British Black and Asian Theatre

This course strand will focus on explorations of play texts by contemporary British black and Asian playwrights from the late seventies to the present, including Mustapha Matura, Winsome Pinnock, Jackie Kay, Tanika Gupta, Deepak Verma, Rachel De-Lahay, Roy Williams, Kwame Kwei-Armah, debbie tucker green, Rachel De-Lahay, Bola Agbaje, Micaela Coel, Janic Okoh, and Oladipo Agboluaje.

The sessions will consider how black playwrights reflect concerns in contemporary society with a particular focus on explorations of identity politics and the presentation of topical social and political issues. This will include discussions about the politics of form, black and Asian textual and performance aesthetics, the politics of black and Asian adaptations, and looking at debates around the representations of themes and issues such as urban teenage crime and violence, institutional racism, and sex tourism. Students will typically read one play for each session, discussing them alongside relevant contextual materials, and exploring them practically through workshops.

Performing Shakespeare's Histories

The intellectual focus will be on the gaps between ‘real’ history’, Shakespeare’s history plays, the performance of these play through history and the BBC broadcast of the first tetralogy scheduled for Autumn 2016. There will be intensive work on text, particularly focussing around Richard III and this will include work on verse speaking, dramaturging and editing.

Greek Tragedy

This first part ofthis course examines ancient Greek tragedies in their historic context. An emphasis on the festival elements of the tragedy will be foregrounded by considering the tragedies as trilogies and by examining the often ignored, bawdy, satyr plays which accompanied them. Ancient criticism will be juxtaposed with classical receptions of tragedy. The second part of the course considers challenges in contemporary staging of ancient Greek tragedy. Along with examining different approaches to tragedies by popular practitioners, we will also consider an ancient tragedy on stage this season.

Overall, the course will challenge popular notions of Greek tragedy: Is the genre of tragedy really about serious/sad things or something else? Is there a formula applicable to all extant tragedies? How does one capture the festival elements of ancient tragedy in contemporary productions and/or make tragedies relevant to today’s audiences?

Russian Theatre

The course will examine the significance and evolution of Russian theatre and playwriting from 1898 (the founding of the Moscow Arts Theatre) to date. The course enables students to understand the relevance of particular social, cultural, and historical contexts in which Russian theatre has developed. The relationships between theatre writing and theatre production in Russia, and between theatre making and political culture will be analysed. Students will be introduced to key texts in the Russian canon, including seminal works such as Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (1904), and The Suicide (1928) by Nikolai Erdman. These texts will be studied in the wider context of Russian theatre in the early 20th century, with particular attention paid to the work of directors Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold.

Building on this, we will explore the blossoming of a new theatre writing culture in Russia at the start of the 21st century. This will include texts such as: Plasticine (2001) by Vassily Sigarev, Mikhail and Vyacheslav Durnenkov’s The Drunks (2009), and Elena Gremina’s verbatim play One Hour Eighteen Minutes (2010), which have become some of the most important plays in contemporary Russia to challenge the normative discourse of the Putin regime.

DT2300 - Theatre & Culture 2

This course builds on DT1300 Theatre & Culture, using creative and critical modes of investigation to consider ways in which theatre and culture reflect and resist each other. In this course, students will begin by considering a range of ethical, practical and aesthetic/formal implications of the ways theatre and culture engage with each other, and the range of definitions of ‘theatre’ and ‘culture’ that have been developed; they will have an opportunity to compare different approaches to the question of how theatre and culture might affect each other.

Each option will explore a specific area in which theatre and culture are in dialogue. Students will have an opportunity to interrogate this area critically, through debate, discussion, presentation and analytical writing, and creatively, through artistic/practical exploration of these ideas and practices.

Feminist Performance Histories

This course will examine dance, theatre, performance and visual arts practices that are located within a feminist re-imagining of the body. Through a series of case studies drawn from across geographic and cultural contexts (to include but not limited to Chandralekha (India), Ana Mendieta (Cuba), Sophie Calle (France), Nelisiwe Xaba (South Africa), Emilyn Claid and Liz Aggiss (UK), students will engage with the varied histories, techniques and devising processes of a feminist praxis

Popular Theatre

This course interrogates the world of popular theatre, past and present, demonstrating that performances involve more than ‘a good night out’ but rather operate as sites for representing the nation, expressing class affiliations, speaking back to power, building community and alliances between groups, instilling values, questioning gender norms and making money.

In the first term, we will consider forms such as Christmas-time panto, Punch and Judy, Broadway and West End musicals, Gilbert and Sullivan, cabaret, ventriloquism, Japan’s all-female Takarazuka revue, South African township musicals, Parsi theatre (the direct ancestor of Bollywood), street spectacles by the French company Royal de Luxe, vaudeville and music hall, medicine shows, Grand Guignol horror plays, minstrelsy and appropriations of popular forms for political purposes by companies such as 7:84. We will examine systems of production, dynamics of performer-audience relations, fandom, touring circuits, economics of the trade, mediatization, merchandising and global cultural traffic.

In the second term, students will create performance routines or acts in the style of a popular theatre genre. This will involve developing relevant performance skills (e.g., direct audience address, stage magic, clowning, dancing, singing, creating stage personae), research tasks related o the particular genre being studied and the generation of publicity materials.

Collecting Theatre and Performance

This course explores the possibility of collecting performance, a form often defined as ‘disappearing’, and debates definitions of theatre as ‘uncollectable’. In seminars, we will respond to the contemporary cultural drive to document live events and confront the practical and conceptual challenges of archiving that we face as theatre makers, theorists, and curators. We will assess the performative nature of theatrical documentation and test the feasibility of encountering productions after the event in order to evaluate why we document acts of performance and what it is about the theatre we want to save.

Theatre for Young Audiences

Theatre for children is experiencing an unprecedented success. Lyn Gardner, the Guardian theatre critic, regularly argues that the innovative performance styles of theatre companies such as Oily Cart and Theatre-rites work pushes the boundaries of contemporary theatre. The Unicorn theatre, the first purpose-built theatre for children in London, is flourishing on the South Bank, and playwrights such as Charles Way, Philip Ridley, Neil Duffield, Mark Ravenhill and David Greig regularly write plays for young people. Theatre-makers such as Mark Storor and Sue Buckmaster bring a blend of visual art, puppetry and live art to performances for children. This energetic theatre culture for young people will be the focus of this course.

The course will require everyone to experiment practically, drawing on theories of play, ideas about childhood and child art, theories of perception and ideas about space and place. Through practice, we will consider how performance installations can excite children’s imaginations by focusing on the visual, tactile and aural elements of theatre and performance.

Dancing Bodies, Global Culture

In this course, students will begin with their own embodied understanding of culture. What does it mean for your body to dance now? What is the context where, when and how you dance? This class examines different cultural contexts for dance production. To explore the cultural production and consumption of dance, we will use theories grounded in cultural studies - e.g., Marxism, post-modernism, feminism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, gender and sexuality, psychoanalysis - to help understand their implications on dance and dancing bodies.

We will focus much of our attention on popular dance, global popular culture, and dance on screen. The overall aim of the course is to investigate the relationship between dance practices and the social, political and economic context in which they emerge and to present students with ways to creatively engage with cultural studies when they devise performances.

Aesthetics of Anxiety

This course will focus on the relationships between three key moments of aesthetic anxiety: Expressionism in theatre and film, Film Noir, and 1970s paranoia/ cold war film. It is concerned with the cross-fertilisation of European and North American modernity in the twentieth-century, and the creation of different historical contexts of structural and formal spaces of anxiety. It will address how the art forms of art, theatre and film have produced and reflected anxieties about: identity, gender, crime, political events, social decay and the threat and aftermath of war. It will cover early theatrical and filmic experiments in Expressionism in Germany, such as Kokoshka’s Murderer. Hope of Womankind; The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (dir: Wiene 1920); Kaiser’s The Gas Trilogy and Metropolis (dir: Lang 1924), and will study the social, philosophical and aesthetic groundings of the movement, tracking it from its early and crude explosive beginnings, to its more mature reflections on social change and modernity.

The course will then follow the movement of German émigré writers and directors into Hollywood, and the importing of the Expressionist aesthetic into film production and design in the US. It will also review examples of American theatrical and filmic expressionism, such as Treadwell’s Machinal and O’Neill’s Emperor Jones, which raise themes of mechanisation, suburban society, crime and identity, all of which influence the focus on claustrophobia, paranoia and domestic criminality in Film Noir. The course will close with a brief examination of more recent American paranoia film rooted in Cold War anxiety.

DT2400 - Theatre & Ideas 2

Building on DT1400 Theatre & Ideas, this course further develops dialogues between theatre and other disciplines. The course draws on the development of ‘performance studies’ and other cross-disciplinary initiatives toexplore the multiple interdisciplinary connections that have revitalised and transformed the discipline of theatre studies, but has also had significant impact on areas such as gender studies, sociology, anthropology, management studies, politics, philosophy, and history.

There may also be the possibility to take PY2005 Philosophy and the Arts(offered by the Departmentof Philosophy) in place of one of the spring term options.

The Idea of Money (Autumn and Spring Terms)

Money lies at the heart of the world’s exchange systems and yet its value depends on our collective acceptance of its symbolic meaning. How do we explain the power of money to exert social, cultural and psychological influence on interpersonal and international relationships? How have playwrights, performance makers, filmmakers and activists engaged with the idea of money (and associated themes) in their work? What can artists tell us about the idea of money that economists cannot?

For the first five classes (up to reading week) students will study one play-text per week in order to examine various ways in which the idea of money manifests in a dramatic work from different eras. Plays will be accompanied by critical readings that will aid comprehension of key concepts. After reading week, students will situate the themes and concerns introduced through the plays with reference to contemporary artistic and activist interventions.

The class will examine practices, technologies and networks that have emerged via anti-capitalist movements and in response to financial crises and austerity. These include protests, occupations, installations, entrepreneurial art projects, as well as alternative forms of exchange such as community currency. Ultimately, the course presents and tests the implications of the idea that money, and capitalism, are cultural phenomena, as much as they are structural.

Theatre and Ecology (Autumn Term)

Theatre and Ecology will focus on the relationship between theatre and climate change. Each week we will look at a work of art and a theoretical text which you will respond to with both a performance and a short piece of critical writing. These will form the basisof discussions around the topic. The course will examine the ways artists respond to pressing issues, explore how you might as students create a regular studio and writing practice, and achieve a deeper understanding of ecological issues.

The Idea of Casting (Autumn Term)

How do we cast plays? What are the issues at stake when casting? What is colour-blind casting? Should we only cast people in roles that they physically resemble? What are the issues around character impersonation in casting? This explores questions of theatrical representation through casting, as an area of fierce debate: performances that investigate identity frequently find themselves at the centre of controversial debates, even street protests, at the level of casting decisions.

Drawing upon literature from the social sciences, post-colonialism and gender studies, this course will explore the power relationships that shape the production and reception of ethnicities through casting, and examine a selection of case studies where issues around representation in casting have exploded into the news. The course emphasizes the representation of ‘Chineseness’ in British theatre casting practices, but contextualises this with some exploration of Asian American and Black American politics and performance, issues concerning gender and disability.

The Idea of Gender (Autumn Term)

What is gender and how is it constructed through performance? How do playwrights and theatre practitioners draw on gendered meaning to reassert or challenge traditional constructions of masculinity and femininity? Reading Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble alongside a range of plays, we will explore these questions, considering how theatre can help us to understand Butler’s theory of gender performativity and, conversely, how understanding gender as a construct might help us to analyse the politics of drama in performance. Topics for discussion may include: realism and gender normativity, casting and the construction of gender, queer performance, and cross-dressing in performance.

Cultural Heritage (Spring Term)

Heritage involves the recognition of value in survivals from the past in the present moment, and making use of practices, artefacts and milieus inherited from prior generations for present-day purposes. As defined by international agencies, prominently UNESCO, heritage can take on both tangible and intangible forms; it can be both things to be archived or sold, and/or skills to be maintained, developed or neglected. This course will address the expanding field of cultural heritage internationally. We will consider the relation between heritage and national and local identities.

We will debate the commercialization of heritage and its marketing and consumption. We will inspect the role of heritage bodies such as English Heritage in shaping cultural values and the sometimes-contested relation between heritage authorities and artists and craftspeople. We will reflect on issues of authenticity, codification and preservation, and study how heritage is performed and enacted in various contexts. We will investigate questions of ownership and look closely at contested heritage items claimed by different actors and states. We will examine how artists such as Grayson Perry and Ai Weiwei are subverting normative expectations of heritage, discuss the popularity of television shows such as The Great British Bake Off and contemplate heritage’s future.

The Idea of Tragedy (Spring Term)

Tragedy has occupied a central position in Western drama since its inception in classical Athens; indeed, until relatively recently tragedy was popularly believed to have been the origin of Western drama. Alongside the plays themselves, the notion of tragedy has fascinated philosophers and critics from Aristotle onwards. This course aims to explore major developments in theatre and philosophy as sparked by changing ideas of the tragic, from Aeschylus through to Kane via Shakespeare, Racine, and others.

The course’s interdisciplinary focus will engage students with a range of ideas from philosophy, classics, and film studies. Creative texts encountered will include Sophocles’ Antigone, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Sarah Kane’s Blasted, and Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker; critical texts will include Aristotle’s Poetics, Hegel’s Aesthetics, and Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. The aim will be to interrogate why artists and audiences continue to return to tragedy, as well as highlight the genre’s potential and limitations as an aesthetic and ideological form.

DT2910 - Technique and Composition 2 (Dance/Drama programme only)

This course provides students with the opportunity to apply an intermediate embodied understanding of contemporary dance practices within a performance context. It deepens the students’ technical, reflective and artistic development and introduces them to specific choreographic forms: solo, duet.

The course provides students with the opportunity to build on foundational understandings experience in year one and continue to deepen their reflective, technical and compositional skills through a clear methodological framework of contemporary practices and approaches.

EN2500 - Shakespeare: Page to Stage (English/Drama programme only)

This course will involve the close study of four Shakespeare plays. In the first term, these plays will be studied in the English Department. In the second term, the same four texts will be studied in Drama. It is intended that there will be continuous interchange between departments throughout the course, involving team-teaching and symposia. The choice of plays will depend on present research and teaching interests in both departments and on the current performance repertoire in the London area.

Threaded through the course will also be key theoretical issues that cut across contemporary literary and dramatic criticism: history and new historicism; identity; class, race and sexuality; the body in theory and performance; the text; and values.

You’ll increasingly find yourself taking responsibility for the direction of your studies. The centrepiece of the third year is the Finalists’ Festival, a week-long programme of performances and presentations in the department’s theatre to which all third-year students contribute.

You’re prepared for this by two courses, which offer training in developing a substantial critical or creative project, either a dissertation, group performance, or an individual project that combines the two.

You’ll also take a high-level seminar in an area of theatre research of their choosing. Finally, students are given opportunities to engage with debates in the contemporary arts, both as practitioners and critics, in a programme that orients them to life and work after the degree.

Advanced Options (Practice-based)

In the Autumn Term, students will choose from a large range of optional courses in the broad and interdisciplinary field of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies that are connected to staff research and expertise. Students will work in depth on a particular set of concepts, methodologies and practices.

In these courses - grouped under practical and seminar-based umbrellas - students will develop appropriate frames of reference and strategies for development of practice-based research, with a view to focusing the concerns of and approaches to the Group Project, and the scholarly skills necessary to pursue a Research Project.

Modern European Directors

This advanced option will provide students with the opportunity to be immersed in a number of modern European approaches to theatre directing. Students will encounter key approaches from two major strands of theatre-making as represented by Katie Mitchell and Ariane Mnouchkine. Starting with these two directors, the course will explore their influences and related contemporaries, tracing major currents in theatre practice.

The aim of the course is to provide students with the space and time to engage practically in some of the biggest ideas in modern European theatre; inviting them to translate theory into practice and develop the critical tools necessary to enable students to ‘read’ theatre from a director’s perspective. A range of performance texts from Greek tragedy and Shakespeare through to contemporary drama will be encountered along the way, and students will be challenged to work at an advanced level in order to stage some of Western drama’s more difficult theatrical moments and ideas.

Performing Celebrity: The Early Actress

The introduction of actresses to the restored stage in 1660 not only changed the experience of attending the theatre, but also changed the drama. Having ‘real, beautiful women’ on stage increased the realism of the performance of female roles, and playwrights were quick to take advantage of this. Generic innovations, such as Restoration sex comedies and she-tragedies, expanded the available roles for women and resolutely focused the audience’s attention on female ‘parts.’ From comedic cross-dressing to comic (and tragic) bed-tricks, actresses were on display, and women’s plots dramatised. These new roles were also vehicles for managing and promoting the celebrity of star actresses from Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons, who became adept at using their on-stage characters to promote their off-stage celebrity personae.

This course will focus on the centrality of actresses to the development of modern theatre, exploring the theatrical and generic innovations the made possible, the tension between stage and society, and contemporary writings about the theatre, female bodies and voices, and the rise of celebrity.

Contemporary European Playwrights

The course focuses on technique, content and context in selected examples of European playwriting. You will first analyse and perform excerpts of key scenes by Brecht, Chekhov, Beckett and Ionesco, and then write and perform your own short scenes or monologues drawing on the techniques of one or more of these writers for your formative assessment. Moving to contemporary playwrighting, you will encounter Dorota Masłowska’s A Couple of Poor, Polish Speaking Romanians and Things are Good Between Us; Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk’s The Suitcase and The Mayor, and excerpts from works by Polish, German and Russian writers such as Paweł Demirski, Przemysław Wojcieszek, Joel Pommerat, René Pollesch, Natalia Vorozhbit and the Presnyakov brothers.

Concurrent themes will be highlighted and the predominance of postdramatic techniques will be discussed. Students will write and perform short scenes or monologues based on the dramatic techniques and/or thematic concerns of one or more ofthese writers. Opportunities to embody text in this class will therefore be directly connected to developing your skills as a writer for performance. Assessment is through presentation and writing portfolio.

Intercultural Performance Training

You will undertake practical training into two almost polar-opposite performance forms: Beijing Opera - a highly physical and spectacular form of traditional Chinese theatre, and Japanese Noh, a restrained and poetic form of traditional Japanese theatre. In seminars, you will be set training exercises that you will be expected to pursue outside of class. Through your training, you will come to embody the dilemmas of intercultural work, and consider these through the lens of a variety of theoretical writings on the subject.

What are the power dynamics of combining different traditions? On whose terms does it take place? How much does a body need to know about a culture / cultural form to be able to represent it? How does it relate to narratives of empire, and multicultural and intercultural ideologies? How does intercultural work reflect histories of migration and transnational ties? Do you have a 'right' to work interculturally? In a globalised world, is there any alternative?

Applied Theatre

In this advanced option you will consider theatre and performance that is applied to different educational settings. Learning happens in many places outside school, including museums, art galleries, theatres and heritage sites, and all leading cultural organisations have dedicated Creative Learning departments that encourage people of all ages to get involved. This course will consider the contribution Creative Learning departments make to arts organisations, drawing on our links with major cultural centres such as the Barbican and the Tate in London, as well as smaller local sites. There will be an opportunity to work practically, and develop a project that might be included in a Creative Learning programme.

Musical Theatre

This course will explore the history of musical theatre on stage from the beginning of the twentieth century until today. Students will listen to and study examples of musical theatre from a range of twentieth century genres, which will include West End, Broadway and Hollywood musicals. There will be an exploration of the relationship between theatrical narratives and musical structures.

Students will consider the impact of economic, political, social and technological factors upon the stage musicals on the West End. Students will investigate, question and challenge some of the conventions and assumptions of the form and through contextual study they will explore and question the message and assumptions of the genre. This course will examine the latest works and innovations of recent musical theatre practitioners and will culminate in a performance.

Dance Repertory and Repertoires (Dance/Drama programme only)

This course provides students with the opportunity to develop a comprehensive embodied understanding of contemporary dance practices through continued participation in classes and workshops led by a specific practitioner. In this course, students will gain an in-depth experience of working with a specific practitioner and his/her repertoire. The course will consist of technical training in the practitioner’s embodied practice along with regular engagements with the dance industry in/around London.

Advanced Options (Seminar-Based)

In the Autumn Term, students will choose from a large range of optional courses in the broad and interdisciplinary field of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies that are connected to staff research and expertise. Students will work in depth on a particular set of concepts, methodologies and practices.

In these courses - grouped under practical and seminar-based umbrellas - students will develop appropriate frames of reference and strategies for development of practice-based research, with a view to focusing the concerns of and approaches to the Group Project, and the scholarly skills necessary to pursue a Research Project.

Love, Gender and Sexuality on Stage and Screen

This research seminar begins with philosophical inquiries about love: eros (romantic/erotic), philia (friendship), agape (unconditional), storge (familial).It will then set out to see how 'love' materialises through gendered and sexualised enactments in dance, dance theatre, theatre, television and film. Part of our focus will rest on the role that neoliberal capitalism and its contingent ideologies of individualism, profit and free market economies plays into our understanding oflove. I am particularly interested in how the appropriation of sentiment/bodies by capitalism has shifted the landscape for relationships and affective communities.

We will sift through a variety of theoretical resources – feminist film theory, (post)-Marxism, visual culture, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, anthropology, cultural geography, literary theory, critical dance studies, queer studies, performance studies – in order to tease out (like Tina Turner immortalised) 'what's love got to do with it?'

Asylum Seekers in the 21st Century: Theatre, Film and Activism

Asylum seekers and refugees activate of some of today’s most urgent and fraught issues relating to citizenship and national identity, human rights, immigration and border security, economic crisis, xenophobia and Islamophobia. This advanced research seminar will introduce students to some of the ways in which contemporary theatre makers, filmmakers and artist-activists are responding to the predicaments and experiences associated with asylum and migration, as well as to the ways that asylum seekers and refugees have found ways to tell their own stories.

Course content will draw from performance practices, media representation, policy frameworks, as well as critical and philosophical writing in Europe (the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy and Greece) and Australia. Students will study theatre and performance, feature film, documentary film and live art produced over the last 10-15 years. They will also be required to seek out and study new work in London or further afield. Students’ understanding of creative works will be contextualised with reference to asylum geographies and media responses, as well as to the governmental interception, detention and deterrence policies with which many artists and activists engage. Theatre, film and activism offer rich and mutually-informative points of entry into this complex and controversial topic, helping us to perceive how relationships between asylum seekers and their would-be hosts are being negotiated in the 21st century.

Race Relations in Theatre, Film and Television

This course aims to extend students' vocabularies for analysing representations of race relations as portrayed in theatre, film and television programmes. To achieve this, the course will focus on examining a range of different representations of race relations in theatre, film and television programmes and consider how these representations are to be critically analysed. The course will be organised around genres and themes of the respective texts to examine such issues as representations of slavery, interracial relationships, nationalism, intersections of race with class, gender and sexuality, post-race identities and so on. Students will examine these portrayals with close reference to theoretical debates about race in contemporary cultural studies, thus testing these tools of analysis for engaging with portrayals of race, past and present.

Plays, films and television series will be selected from a wide range across historical and cultural contexts and might include William Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice , Anna Deveare Smith's Fires in the Mirror (1992) and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (1994), Roy Williams' Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (2001), David Mamet's Race (2009), Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1959) and Bruce Norris’s contemporary response Clybourne Park (2011), films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), Jungle Fever (1991), Falling Down (1993), L'Haine (1995), American History X (1998), Crash (2004), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Belle (2013) and television sitcoms such as Love Thy Neighbour (1972-76), Mind Your Language '(1977-79) and Little Britain (2003-2006) and Come Fly With Me (2010-11). Each session will focus on one of these core textual examples with supporting secondary readings on the genre and/or theme illuminated.

Students will be required to prepare and present independent research papers on related texts in the genre, topics or issues raised by the texts, and/or critical readings. By comparing and contrasting representations in different genres and historical eras students will garner their awareness and understanding of how these portrayals can be used to reflect on race relations in the cultures from which they emerged and thus how we can examine representations as a way of gaining insight into prominent societal concerns.

Shakespeare 2016

The intellectual focus will be on the commemoration of Shakespeare’s death in 2016, the events generated by this and in particular the productions of Shakespeare’s plays on offer plus the reviews and reactions they inspire. Students will be encouraged to create a portfolio of reviews/ performance analyses, to visit key sites and record responses, to research marketing as well as scholarship.

Film, Space, History

This course examines and critiques the work of a selection of the directors who formed the New German Cinema movement. Although widely diverse in style and influences, these directors shared a horror at their nation's past, and worked through the medium of film to explore their own sense of abandonment and betrayal, and engage with the difficulty of making images about and in an country where the medium of film had been so deeply debased by Nazism.

Films will be chosen to allow discussion of a range of concerns, both thematic and formal: the sense of loss of identity of the post-war German generation, both personal and national; the attempt to find workable ways of using film to talk about Germany and German history after Nazism; the metaphor of parental relationships; the road movie, and the relationship with North American cultural production; the use of film space to disrupt conventional narrative; film as memory, and memory as history.

Museums and Performance

Museums have long collected the artefacts of performance—Dutch paintings of country fairs, masks from Africa and New Guinea, puppets from Indonesia, programmes and posters from London’s West End or Broadway, musical instruments, costumes, photographs, films, designs. But only recently have museums been conceptualised as sites of performance where these objects can be reanimated by practitioners before contemporary audiences and brought into dialogue with current artistic practices and ideas. This course considers the performance potentials and limitations of the museum as an institution.

We will discuss histories of collecting and curating performing objects; preservation, storage and access policies; display practices and exhibition strategies; the museum as a contact zone; approaches to programming performance in conjunction with exhibitions; and performative re-purposing of museum artefacts for sometimes radical purposes. The course runs concurrently with a Southeast Asian shadow puppet exhibition co-curated by the tutor at the British Museum and this will form one of our main case studies. Students will be given the opportunity to attend and volunteer at a range of events at the British Museum, including performances, workshops, gallery tours and lectures.

National and Folk Dance at the Boundaries

What do current amateur dance practices communicate about a sense of identity or belonging? How have old dance forms drawn from folk and national traditions been adopted/adapted and re-focused to respond to often rapidly changing community identity? For instance how does the flash clog dance in Newcastle city centre connect with the Scottish Folk dance just across this lively border? Or how do the dance practices of the Sardana in Barcelona support the Catalonian fight for self-determination in Spain?

Using the newly developing UK Digital Folk Archive, The Full English Digital Archive combined with online dance tutorials and blogs, we will explore how the politics of identity and social cohesion are evident in physicality, choreography, use of space and methods of creation/teaching amateur folk/national dances. We will use field trips and practice of the dances as research tools in understanding the cultural power of amateur and popular dance forms. There is no need to have had experience of dance to do this course since these are practices that are usually open to all comers, but do expect to move (or sing or play an instrument?).

DT3202 - Group Performance

Students taking DT3202 Final Year Project: Group Performance will spend the Spring Term exploring their own creative ideas to develop a project for public performance (in groups of 8-10).This will result in a performance work of up to 30 minutes to be shown in a two-day season at the end of the Spring Term, as part of a ‘Finalist Festival’. The format of the performance is self-determined and managed, and may include, for example, a studio-based devised piece, a site-specific performance installation somewhere on campus, bringing a historically distant play into the context of contemporary performance through a specific theoretical lens, or an adaptation of existing non-dramatic materials.

Students will take primary responsibility for shaping the development of the project, and the course tutor will offer advice, make recommendations, and comment on the work as it evolves. A core concern of the course is for students to locate their work within a wider body of theatre practice, and within a robust framework of research and contextual understanding. At the same time, the project and its processes of work should be informed by and build on previous learning in the Drama and Theatre degree.

Research Project: Special Study

The Special Study is an opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of the student’s choice, and thus to deepen your understanding of a particular aspect of drama and theatre studies. This strand allows students to reach out beyond the conventions of either the academic dissertation or public performance. It is an opportunity to develop ideas about theatre and performance, and to produce an output that communicates with other practitioners or publics while enabling the development of research, thinking and critical analysis.

The core purpose of the Special Study is to allow the student to identify a specific topic of particular interest to him/herself; to assemble and analyse relevant, available evidence, both theoretical and practical, on the topic; to analyse issues at length, to devise a methodology for investigating the research question and to execute a project as a piece of research. Students will be given guidance on the development of research questions and methodologies, as well as focused supervision and some technical support.

Formats and kinds of outcome for this project are negotiated with the Department. Possible examples include (but are not restricted to): a costume design portfolio; a blog; a web-based, print or digital resource pack; a play script; a group edited journal or book; a seminar; an installation; a portfolio of reviews; a stand-up comedy routine. Although Special Study projects need have no public outcome per se, you may be required to present aspects of your work as part of the ‘Finalist Festival’.

Research Project: Research Dissertation

The dissertation is an opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of your choice, and thus to deepen your understanding of drama and theatre studies. The topic is negotiated with the Department and is subject to approval by the Sub-board of Examiners. In proposing a topic, you should bear in mind the range of teaching and research interests available in the Department. The purpose of the dissertation is to allow the student to identify a specific topic of particular interest to him/herself; to assemble and analyse relevant, available evidence on the topic; to analyse issues at length and to reach clear and independent conclusions as to the nature and significance of the topic chosen in the light of recent relevant critical, practical and/or theoretical work in the field.

The dissertation builds on experience gained in essay-writing in the first and second years. It draws on time-management skills, and the ability to work independently. You will need to show knowledge of both primary texts and relevant secondary sources. You may have to undertake archival research, conduct interviews, analyse performances, and/or engage in ethnography.

Students will research and write a substantial essay that aspires to be an original contribution to knowledge. Students taking this course will be working independently for the great majority of the process, though they will be given some supervision and feedback on the work in progress.

Research Project: Taught Dissertation

The taught dissertation engages students in the indepth study of a broad area of theatre and/or performance research in support of their independent study in the field. The aim of each course is to equip students with the methodologial and theoretical tools to support their independent research into an area by providing them with a structured programme of guided research into each specific field.

Each taught dissertation tutorial group will examine core principles, research methods, and critical readings in the area of study with the aim being that students learn how to understand, interrogate and critique these resources with a specific eye on how they can be used as theoretical framworks to shape the student's independent research.

Theoretical and methodological approaches might include any of the following: literary/historical/aesthetic analysis, archival research, and/or participant-observation fieldwork. Students will be expected to develop and share their independent research throughout the course of the term and to offer peer-reviewed feedback to each other. During the course of the term, each student will receive individual tutor and peer group supervision.

Popular Culture

Students in this strand will be writing dissertations on forms of popular culture such as popular theatre (panto, musicals, Punch and Judy), pop music or rock, stage magic, clowning, ballroom dancing, sports, popular films or television, circus, music videos, street entertainment or fashion.

In the first part of the term you will be exposed to the major debates, issues and approaches in the study of popular culture in order to anchor your research. We will examine theoretical frameworks for considering popular culture drawn from cultural studies, anthropology, performance studies and other fields; methodologies in popular culture studies, including participant-observation fieldwork, archival research and the study of fandom; and selected case studies of popular culture, both contemporary and historical.

Following reading week, students will be presenting abstracts, arguments and sections of the dissertation based on their own independent original research into primary source materials. It is expected that by the term’s end dissertations will have been drafted in full and have received feedback from both peers and the course tutor.

Analysing British Plays

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.

Adaptations

This course will challenge students to consider, in depth, one of the most vital processes in theatre, film, and performance: adaptation. We will explore a variety of different theories alongside examples of their application in critical work, seeking to continually refine our understanding of what constitutes adaptation - its conventions, its boundaries, and its possibilities. We will go on to ask how adaptation can be a productive means of thinking through ideas of cultural exchange, political theatre, and the creative process.

The case studies encountered will be drawn from wide range of scholarship on postmodernism, post-structuralism, feminism, post-colonialism, and classical reception studies; they will include Linda Hutcheon’s notion of historiographical metafiction, Julie Sanders’ definitions of adaptation in relation to appropriation, and Julie Kristeva’s notion of intertextuality. The course is designed to provide students seeking to focus their dissertations in the area of theatre and film adaptation, classical reception, and/or postmodernism with a range of critical approaches and a sophisticated vocabulary to support their research.

DT3500 - Nation and Adaptation (English/Drama programme only)

A look at the current West End schedules – War Horse, The Woman in Black, The Mousetrap, Les Misérables, Matilda the Musical – demonstrates that literary adaptations for the stage fuel our cultural economy. This course focuses on a number of less familiar, but nonetheless highly influential adaptations produced by Irish, British-Asian and Black-British theatre-makers over the past twenty years. It explores how they have used adaptation to explore - and often to subvert – notions of national and ethical identity and of cultural belonging.

This course begins with an exploration of adaptation theory, in particular the idea of the ‘cultural capital’ attached to the work of adapting. It explores why and how the adaptation has become mainstream; the issues around adaptation and ownership and the problems which duplication and replication present for those who seek to create a vibrant, contemporary, politically-alert theatre

Throughout the course, we will engage with a range of theoretical approaches to ask questions about adaptation and gender, adaptation and race, the literary canon and identity, historiography and representation of official ‘truths’. We will use a combination of close-reading, workshops, seminars and performance to explore a number of well-known plays and in the end use this knowledge to work towards an adaptation of our own.

The degree reaches out beyond the limits of the university, forging links with local communities, international partners, the theatre industry and the wider theatregoing public.

You’ll be taught by leading researchers and theatremakers. Students graduating from Royal Holloway with a Drama degree are intelligent, mature and knowledgeable, with confident understanding of contemporary culture, and a range of extremely desirable work-related skills in research, thinking and communication.

 
  
 
 
 

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