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Devising in Context

  • Module code: DA5003
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 5
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of Level 4 Drama or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills students gain in the Level 4 module DA4002 Making Theatre Happen, enabling them to develop and adapt these within the context of devising theatre. It begins with an exploration of dramaturgical principles in relation to devised performance with a focus on how companies and practitioners select and respond to stimulus material of different kinds and how they shape that material into performance. Students study and critique devised productions and engage in creative exercises which enable them to experiment with a range of methods and techniques of devising. They then explore ways in which these approaches can be utilised and adapted within community and applied contexts. They are introduced to principles of theatre as social intervention, studying examples of applied theatre practice and participating in workshops focused around the employment of devising techniques in community contexts with a particular emphasis on collaborative methodology. For their assessment, students create a group-based devised performance They can choose to conceive of this as aimed at a specific audience such as a specific age group or community.  

Aims

This module aims to:

  • develop students' understanding of dramaturgical concepts and practices in relation to devised performance
  • develop students' understanding of a range of devising methodologies through the study of contemporary devising practice
  • introduce students to the principles of theatre as social intervention and to processes of applied theatre practice
  • enable students to utilise and adapt these methodologies within their own creative work

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of devising methodologies, as they are employed by contemporary practitioners of devised theatre in performance or applied theatre contexts
  • utilise and adapt these methodologies within their own creative work
  • demonstrate understanding and skill in the application of dramaturgical concepts and practices 
  • apply collaborative working skills (Key Skills: Interpersonal, Management and Leadership)
  • demonstrate understanding of the link between theory and practice through the articulation of aims and their strategies for achieving them within performance
  • reflect usefully on both creative process and product (Key Skill: Self Awareness)

Curriculum content

  • introduction to dramaturgical theory and practice with specific reference to theories of narrative and dramatic structure, such as those of Aristotle, Vladimir Propp or Joseph Campbell
  • critiques of devised productions in relation to the ways in which they respond to and work with stimulus material, for instance, Kneehigh's The Red Shoes, Complicite's The Master and Margarita, Shared Experience's After Mrs Rochester, the David Glass Ensemble's The Unheimliche Spine, Robert Wilson's Woyzeck.
  • case studies of a range of applied theatre practices, for example, Geese Theatre prison drama, Mind the Gap drama with learning disabled people, Spare Tyre work with older people
  • critical studies of applied theatre practice in relation to notions of drama as social intervention
  • Practical and creative exercises in response to at least two contrasting kinds of stimulus material such as short stories, fairy tales, pictures, objects and music
  • practical and creative explorations of specific devising techniques and approaches such as Mike Alfred's approach to the narrator or Frantic Assembly's physical techniques
  • considerations of the dramaturgical role played by objects, materials, lighting and sound in devising and devised performance
  • planning, organisation and group management

Teaching and learning strategy

This module has a practical focus and is thus mainly delivered in workshop form, although some elements of lecture-presentation might also be employed. In recognition of the fact that the directorial role is one that demands initiative, organisation and leadership, students are expected to take a good deal of responsibility for their own learning through undertaking extensive preparation, research and planning. The importance of creating a ‘safe' rehearsal environment where creative risks can be taken, failure is seen as a valuable learning opportunity and participants feel able to collaborate freely and offer constructive criticism, is reflected in the collaborative, discursive, student-led ethos of teaching delivery.  

Activities in teaching block 1 are focused around textual analysis, preparation and working with actors. A list of up to 10 suitable plays will be provided, from which students will choose a scene to direct for their summative assessment, Directed Scene, at the end of the year (they make this choice by about the middle of TB1). Tutors will use a range of scenes from these plays in order to introduce a variety of interpretative approaches and rehearsal methods. When working on workshops and scenes in TB1, students will function as ‘actors' for one another. They can also do so in TB2, but students may ask other Drama students to be ‘actors' for them in their final scene performances.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 8 X 1 hour lecture-presentations, including viewing of performances 8
Scheduled learning and teaching 8 X 1 and 14 X 2 hour workshops 36
Guided independent study Individual research 50
Guided independent study group-based planning and rehearsal 206
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

All students are assessed on the same three key areas, process, performance and reflection.

Process and Reflection (50%) are assessed by a Creative Portfolio (3000 words or equivalent) which might include: a production critique or case study of a relevant project or company; an articulation of aims for their project and a plan for how they intend to go about achieving those aims, making reference to the theories, methodologies and techniques on which they have drawn in formulating their concept and approach; reflective notes inserted throughout in which they comment on the effectiveness of their strategies and choices Aspects of this portfolio may be assessed formatively and then resubmitted. Summative submission of the portfolio takes place 2 weeks after the performance or project.

Performance (50%)is assessed by a 15 minute group-based devised performance Formative assessment for this element includes work in progress presentations where students gain tutor and peer feedback.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of devising methodologies, as they are employed by contemporary practitioners of devised theatre in performance or applied theatre contexts Formatively and summatively in Creative Portfolio of written work
Utilise and adapt these methodologies within their own creative work Formatively in work in progress presentations; summatively in Performance
Demonstrate understanding and skill in the application of dramaturgical concepts and practices and/or concepts of drama as social intervention depending on the context within which they choose to work Formatively and summatively in Creative Portfolio of written work; Formatively in work in progress presentations; summatively in Performance
Apply collaborative working skills as appropriate to the context within which they choose to work (KS: Interpersonal, Management and Leadership) Formatively in work in progress presentations; summatively in Performance
Demonstrate understanding of the link between theory and practice through the articulation of aims and their strategies for achieving them within specific performance or community contexts Formatively and summatively in Creative Portfolio of written work
Demonstrate the ability to reflect usefully on both creative process and product (KS: Self Awareness) Formatively in group viva voce; summatively in written reflection Creative Portfolio

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Kuppers, P. (2007) Community Performance: An Introduction. London, Routledge

Mermikides, A. and Smart, J. (Eds)(2010) Devising in Process. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Bibliography recommended reading

Baim, C. Brookes, S. Mountfor, A. (2002) The Geese Theatre Handbook: Drama with Offenders and People at Risk. Hook, Waterside Press

Govan, E. Nicholson, H. and Normington K. (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. London, Routledge

Graham, S. and Hoggett, S. (2009) The Frantic Assembly Book of Devising Theatre. London, Routledge

Harvie, J. and Lavender, A. (2010) Making Contemporary Theatre. Manchester, Manchester University Press

Heddon, D. and Milling, J. (2006) Devising Performance: a critical history, Basingstoke, Palgrave

Kuppers, P. and Robertson, G. (eds) (2007) The Community Performance Reader. London, Routledge

McKee, R. (1999) Story: substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting. London, Methuen

Nicholson, H. (2005) Applied Drama. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Oddey, A. (1996) Devising Theatre: a practical and theoretical handbook. London, Routledge

Turner, C. and Behrndt, S. (2008) Dramaturgy and Performance. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

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