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Staging Histories

  • Module code: DA4001
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 4
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: none
  • Co-requisites: none

Summary

The module introduces students to significant approaches and research methods associated with the study of theatre history. It draws on students' previous and current studies of performance texts and styles to investigate how we make theatre history, what evidence we draw upon, and what implications these histories have for our current performance making  In the first part of the module students will increase their knowledge and understanding by investigating key periods in Western theatre history such as the English renaissance, the popular Victorian stage, modernism and the post-war theatre of the absurd.  In a series of tutor led seminar/workshops, the students will consider the historical contexts that gave rise to changing conceptions of dramatic character, dialogue and action. Particular attention will be given to the material conditions in which theatre artists worked and the relationship between the theatre and the culture at large in any given period. In the latter part of the module students will apply their knowledge and research skills in a student-led, staff-supervised practical project.

This module is supported via the Personal Tutor scheme via a series of timetabled weekly small group meetings.

Aims

This module aims to:

  • develop students' awareness and understanding of key periods in Western theatre history
  • introduce students to a range of skills associated with the practice of theatre history and historiography
  • enhance students' understanding of the practice of theatre history as a series of choices, informed by ideological, social, and economic forces
  • develop students' ability to work independently on a research project

Learning outcomes

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

  • demonstrate an understanding of the social and ideological contexts of the making of theatre and its histories 
  • reflect meaningfully on varieties of evidence of past theatrical activities
  • search for and select relevant sources of information (Key Skill: Research and Information Literacy)
  • present, challenge and defend ideas effectively in written form (Key Skill:  Communication)
  • determine the scope of a  practical project (Key Skill: Management and Leadership)
  • demonstrate understanding of the relationship between current theatre practice and the theatre practice of the past

Curriculum content

The particular methods of enquiry used will vary each year depending on the period under investigation and the expertise of the module tutors, but will include methods associated with the study of material culture including:

  • textual analysis, drawn from the work of, for example, Simon Shepherd, Mick Wallis, and Thomas Postlwait
  • performance analysis and the theatrical event, drawing on the work of, for example, Patrice Pavis
  • theatre iconography, drawing on the work of, for example, Robert Erenstein, Christopher Balme and Jacky Bratton
  • theatre aesthetics, drawing on the work of, for example, Artistotle, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud and Howard Barker
  • reception theory, spectatorship and audience, drawing on the work of, for example, Susan Bennett and Helen Freshwater
  • theatre architecture, drawing on the work of, for example, Christopher Baugh, Iain Mackintosh and Marvin Carlson
  • workshop analysis and practical exploration of historically distant play texts
  • the reconstruction of acting styles of the past

Personal Tutor System activities:

  • acclimatisation and support services
  • personal development planning
  • academic skills including library skills, research, essay planning, bibliography and referencing
  • groupwork skills including communication, interpersonal interaction, time-management, project-planning
  • reflective skills including how to write a reflective essay
  • Understanding the grading process and making best use of feedback

Teaching and learning strategy

For the first sixteen weeks, this module is taught via a combination of lecture presentation, seminar and workshop. Lectures and seminars will be used to embed knowledge and understanding of key questions and methods in theatre historiography and to increase the students' understanding of the cultural contexts in which specific groups of plays, dramatic conventions, theatre buildings and theatre industries developed. Workshops will be used to explore historically distant texts drawn from a range of periods from the perspective of the performer. From midway through the second teaching block, students will work independently in groups (though with tutor supervision) to create a performance utlizing the skills acquired in this module. The intention is to increase students' understanding of the connection between theory and practice in our subject area as a whole, as well as their ability to think critically and creatively and to organize their research findings into practical outputs.

This module is directly linked to the Personal Tutor system. Students meet regularly in small groups or on a one-to-one basis with their personal tutor. The tutorial sessions help them to consolidate and reflect on their learning in this module and to prepare for assignments, as well as offering more general support and guidance in relation to the transition to degree-level study. Groups for the final project-based assessment are formed from tutor groups and supervised by the personal tutor.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 16 x 2 hour workshops (including presentation/viewings) 32
Guided independent study Independent group rehearsal, including scheduled group supervisions 15
Scheduled learning and teaching Performance (including own performance and watching others) 8
Guided independent study Independent Study 235
Scheduled learning and teaching 10 X 1 hour small group tutorials 10
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Formative assessment for this module will include:

  • a group rationale outlining intentions for the summative performance
  • essay plan and annotated bibliography (1000 words)

There are two summative assessment points in the module:

  • an individual research essay (2500 words) in wk 5 of TB2, (60%)
  •  group performance (10-15 mins)  (40%).

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate an understanding of the social and ideological contexts of the making of theatre and its histories. Formatively in essay plan and rationale Summatively in essay and performance
Reflect meaningfully on varieties of evidence of past theatrical activities. Formatively in essay plan and rationale Summatively in essay and performance
Search for and select relevant sources of information.(Key Skill: Research and Information Literacy Skills) Formatively in essay plan and rationale Summatively in essay
Present, challenge and defend ideas effectively in written form. (Key Skill: Communication Skills) Formatively in essay plan Summatively in essay
Determine the scope of a practical project) (Key Skill: Management and Leadership Skills) Formatively in the rationale Summatively in performance
Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between current theatre practice and the theatre practice of the past Fornatively in essay plan and rationale Summatively in essay and performance

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Essay 60
PRC Performance 10-15 Minutes 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 single core text. Tutors will suggest key readings depending on the period being studied.

Bibliography recommended reading

Bratton, J. S. (2003) New Readings in Theatre History. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

Brown, I. (ed.)(2011) The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Drama. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press

Burke, P.(1988)What is Cultural History. Cambridge, Polity Press

Jenkins, K. (2003) Re-thinking History. London, Routledge

Davis, J. (2011) Researching Theatre History and Historiography. In Kershaw, B. and Nicholson, H. (eds.) Research Methods in Theatre and Performance. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, pp. 86-110.

Dromgoole, N. (2007) Performance Style and Gesture in Western Theatre. London, Oberon

Postlewait, T. (2009) The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Historiography. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

Postlewait, T. and McConachie, B. A. (1989) Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Essays in the Historiography of Performance. Iowa City, University of Iowa Press

Shepherd, s. and Womack, P. (1996) English Drama: A Cultural History. Oxford, Blackwell

Zarrilli, P. B., Maconachie, B., Williams, G. J., and Fisher Sorgenfrei, C. (2006) Theatre Histories: An Introduction. London, Routledge

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