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The Play Today

  • Module code: DA5001
  • 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 focuses on new writing and its pre-eminent place in contemporary British theatre culture. Building on skills and knowledge gained at Level 4, the module is designed to allow students both to study key plays in depth and also to develop an understanding of the historical conditions that led to the primacy of the 'new play' in British theatre. Taking the in-yer-face moment in the 1990s as a starting point, students will study key plays and playwrights in the process acquiring an accurate overview of the styles of writing that have been most acclaimed, influential and/or controversial in recent decades. Particular attention will be paid to the, impact and aesthetics of verbatim and documentary theatre. Students will also consider the impact of cultural and institutional policies, such as the Eclipse Report and the young writer's programmes at various subsidised theatres - the Royal Court, Soho Theatre - in shaping contemporary drama, its forms and principal preoccupations.

Aims

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the work of important contemporary British playwrights
  • analyse major trends and innovations in new writing for the theatre
  • consider the importance of wider political and cultural forces in shaping new writing for theatre
  • engage students in the close reading of important post-war plays

Learning outcomes

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

  • knowledge and understanding of key post-war British playwrights and their contexts
  • the capacity to articulate a range of ways in which new writing reflects and inflects the preoccupations of its cultural moment
  • knowledge and understanding of dominant forms in contemporary playwrighting and their theoretical foundations
  • the ability to critically evaluate information and use it appropriately (Key Skills: Research and Information Literacy)
  • the ability to express ideas clearly and unambiguously in writing and the spoken word (Key Skills: Communication)

Curriculum content

  • the developing politics of class and gender as they are inflected and reflected in new writing for the stage
  • the emergence of a generation of new writers including, for example, Philip Ridley, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill and Martin Crimp in the 1990s.
  • formal innovations in playwriting of the late twentieth and twenty-first century, especially in relation to Hans Thies Lehmann's notion of the post-dramatic
  • the impact of developments in sceneography and design on the reception of new plays
  • the reception of key plays in relation to the increasingly substantial body of secondary literature.
  • the impact of funding policies by successive governments on the production of new plays

Teaching and learning strategy

The module will be taught in a weekly series of lecture/seminars and workshops spanning Teaching Blocks One and Two. Lectures and seminars will be used to embed knowledge and understanding of key debates in post-war theatre and to increase students’ understanding of the cultural contexts in which specific plays, or groups of plays developed. Workshops will be used to explore texts from the perspective of the performer, the director and the designer and also to enhance students' understanding of the ways in which formal and thematic preoccupations are articulated through practice. Students will be required to undertake a small group research project in which they will assess the impact of a specified playwright on the development of post-war drama.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 22 x 3 hour lectures/ seminars/workshops 66
Guided independent study Group presentation rehearsals 50
Guided independent study Individual research 184
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Knowledge and understanding of key playwrights and their contexts will be assessed formatively via  the presentation of a group rationale scheduled for week 10 (Teaching Block One) and summatively in a final group seminar presentation (15 minutes) in week 3 (Teaching Block Two) . The capacity to articulate a range of ways in which new writing reflects and inflects the preoccupations of contemporary culture alongside knowledge and understanding of dominant forms in contemporary playwrighting and their theoretical foundations will be assessed summatively in an academic essay of 2500-3000 words. 

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Knowledge and understanding of key post-war British playwrights and their contexts. Formatively in presentation of group rationale; summatively in the seminar presentation
The capacity to articulate a range of ways in which new writing reflects and inflects the preoccupations of its cultural moment. Summatively in the academic essay
Knowledge and understanding of dominant forms in contemprary playwrighting and their theoretical foundations. Formatively in the group rationale; summatively in the seminar presentation and academic essay
The ability to critically evaluate information and use it appropriately (Key Skills: Research and Information) Summatively in the seminar presentation and the academic essay
The ability to express ideas clearly and unambiguously in writing and the spoken word (Key Skills: Communication) Formatively in the group rationale; summatively in the seminar presentation and the academic essay

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
PRC Presentation 30
CWK Essay 70
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

Churchill, C., et al. (2001) The Methuen Book of Modern Drama: Plays of the 80s and 90s. London, Methuen

Bibliography recommended reading

Lane, D. (2010) Contemporary British Drama. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press

D’Monté, R., and Saunders, G. (eds.)(2007) Cool Britannia, British Political Drama in the 1990s. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Megson, C. (2012) Modern British Playwrighting: the 1970s. London, Methuen

Rankin Russell, R. (ed.)(2007) Martin McDonagh: A Casebook. London, Routledge

Saunders, G. (2002) Love Me or Kill Me: Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes. Manchester, Manchester University Press

Sierz, A. (2012) Modern British Playwriting: the 1990s. London, Methuen

Sierz, A. (2001) In-Yer-Face Theatre British Drama. London, Methuen

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