Search our site
Search our site

Popular Performance I: Mask and Clown

  • Module code: DA5007
  • 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 runs throughout the academic year and introduces students to a range of European popular performance traditions.  Commedia dell' arte, pantomime and clown are typical examples of these traditions although the module could equally focus on a number of other forms.   The origins and histories of these modes of performance are examined and used as a foundation for the exploration of theory associated with academics and practitioners such as Jacques Lecoq, John Rudlin, Dario Fo and John Wright. Both the historical context and the theoretical framework provide a reliable basis for the practical exploration of essential techniques and conventions of performance associated with each of the forms studied.  The mutable and capricious Clown, an enduring feature of popular performance, is a recurrent figure within the module and serves as a playful means of approaching concepts such as presence, play, and the role of the spectator in the creation of meaning as well as common themes such as marginality, transgression order and chaos.

Aims

This module aims to:

  • enable students to construct coherent and detailed knowledge and understanding of popular performance traditions and their theoretical contexts
  • enable students to develop a detailed understanding of the performance techniques appropriate to these traditions
  • encourage and support students' exploration and application of these techniques and practices in the development of original practical work
  • encourage the development of academic skills necessary to articulate knowledge and understanding of popular performance traditions in both assessed academic writing and performance

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

  • identify and describe practices, traditions and histories of a range of popular performance modes (Key skills: creativity and problem solving)
  • identify key practitioners working within these forms and outline the impact of cultural and historical contexts on their work
  • critically evaluate arguments and assumptions relating to the history and theory of these forms
  • recognise and describe the interplay between appropriate theory and their own practice 
  • recognise key components of and processes by which performance associated with these forms is created and realised (Key skills: interpersonal skills)
  • practically apply appropriate performance techniques to consolidate and extend knowledge and understanding of the work of these forms (Key skills: interpersonal skills)

Curriculum content

  • antecedents of European popular performance, for instance, carnival, classical comedy and medieval farce
  • history of specific popular performance forms informed by the work of, for example, Tristan Remy, Mel Gordon, John Towsen
  • defining characteristics, concerns and characters associated with these forms, informed by the work of, for example, Dario Fo, Jacques Lecoq
  • theories associated with the mask and its use in practice, drawing on the work of, for example, Jacques Lecoq, John Rudlin
  • developing performance material using approaches developed by, for instance, John Rudlin, Barry Grantham
  • theories of presence and play such as those of Jacques Lecoq
  • the relationship between performer and spectator

Teaching and learning strategy

The practical workshops that initially inform the delivery of the module will enable students to explore and gain insight into histories, theories and creative practices associated with particular forms of popular performance.  Over the course of this Teaching Block groups of students will consult with module tutors to conceive and plan a creative project that will enable a more detailed examination of a key area of the curriculum content.  Having presented a carefully organized proposal that not only outlines the project's aims, objectives and performance outcomes but also indicates ways in which it will enable the group to meet the assessment criteria, this project will form the basis of their work in Teaching Block 2. 

As students develop the project they have proposed they will participate in two different types of practical workshop.  Building on work introduced in Teaching Block 1 the first of these will explore key performance skills that pertain to each of the projects being developed.  These might include improvisation, stagecraft, slapstick, stock characterisation, basic acrobatics, half-mask technique and comedic rules involving builds, double-takes, timing and rhythm. The second will be given over to work in progress presentations and incorporate important feedback from module tutors and peer review.  At the end of Teaching Block 2 students will present the performance outcomes of their project in an appropriate venue to audiences including peers and the general public. 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 22 x 2 hour practical workshop 44
Guided independent study Research, preparation and rehearsal 256
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Formative assessment tasks:

  • At the end of Teaching Block 1 groups of students will present a carefully organized proposal that not only outlines the project's aims, objectives and performance outcomes but also indicates ways in which it will enable the group to meet the assessment criteria, this project will form the basis of their work in Teaching Block 2. 
  • At the beginning of Teaching Block 2 groups of students will present their proposal for a second time and demonstrate ways in which they have responded to feedback provided by the module tutor and to peer review following the previous proposal
  • Regular opportunities for the presentation of work are built into the delivery of the module. In Teaching Block 2 these are designed primarily to provide students with feedback from staff and students alike and to enable students to develop work through reflective practice
  • Creative portfolios will be submitted as works in progress in in Teaching Week 5 of Teaching Block 2

Summative assessment tasks:

  • Creative portfolio (equivalent to 2000 word essay) documenting, analysing, evaluating and contextualizing students' personal contribution to the group's creative process.  This creative portfolio and a series of work in progress presentations will enable module tutors to assess creative process.
  • 20 minute performance developed and realized in small groups demonstrating knowledge and understanding of key conventions and concepts explored in the module 

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
identify and describe practices, traditions and histories of a range of popular performance modes (Key skill: Creativity and Problem-solving) Formatively - presentation Summatively - Creative portfolio
Identify key practitioners working within these forms and outline the impact of cultural and historical contexts on their work Formatively - presentation Summatively - Creative portfolio
Critically evaluate arguments and assumptions relating to the history and theory of these forms Formatively - presentation Summatively - Creative portfolio
recognise and describe the interplay between appropriate theory and their own practice Formatively - presentation Summatively - Creative portfolio
recognise key components of and processes by which performance associated with these forms is created and realised (Key skill: Interpersonal Formatively - presentation Summatively - Creative portfolio
practically apply appropriate performance techniques to consolidate and extend knowledge and understanding of the work of these forms (Key Skill: Interpersonal) Formatively - presentation Summatively - Creative portfolio

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
PRC 20 Minute Performance 60
CWK Creative Portfolio 40
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

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

There is no core text for this module as students may choose to pursue a variety of different areas of study

Bibliography recommended reading

  • Bakhtin, M. (trans) Iswolsky, H. (1984). Rabelais and His World. Bloomington, Indiana University Press
  • Chamberlain, F. and Yarrow, R.  (2002) Jacques LeCoq and the British Theatre. London, Routledge
  • Farell, J. and Pippa, P. (2006). A History of Italian Theatre. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
  • Fo, D. Joseph, F. (trans). Hood, S. (ed) (1991) The Tricks of the Trade. (Manuale minimo dell'attore). New York, Routledge
  • Huizinga, J.  (1955)  Homo Ludens: A Study Of The Play Element In Culture. Boston, Beacon Press
  • Lecoq, J. David Bradby (trans) (2002) The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre. (Le Corps Poétique - Un enseignement de la création théâtrale). London, Methuen
  • Oreglia, G. Edwards (trans)  (1970) The Commedia dell'Arte. London, Methuen
  • Peacock, L. (2009) Serious Play: Modern Clown Performance. Bristol, Intellect
  • Rudlin, J. (1994). Commedia dell'Arte: An Actor's Handbook. London, Routledge
  • Towsen, J.H.  (1976)  Clowns.  New York,  Hawthorne Books
  • Willeford, M. W. (1969) The Fool and his Scepter: a study in clowns, jesters and their audiences. US. Northwestern University Press

Find a course

Course finder

>
Undergraduate study
Site menu