Module code: THE2024

Module Overview

This module explores creative approaches to working with devised personal and autobiographical material in performance. We study ways of explore the truths, lies and ethics of using the personal and autobiographical in performance. Throughout the module, students will be introduced to a variety of artistic techniques and strategies that will enable them to create their own auto/biographical pieces. In this module students will work with a range of material and forms, which may include play texts, contemporary experimental theatre, performance/live art, site-specific practice, verbatim theatre, examining the work of specific UK and international companies and artists (such as Bobby Baker, Forced Entertainment or Marina Abramovic, for instance).The module explores the creation and showing of auto/biography in performance. The module also establishes the importance of focus, discipline and rigor in the work of the performer and promotes self-organisation and non-autocratic ways of collaborating and devising.


Module provider

Guildford School of Acting

Module Leader

DUGGAN Patrick (GSA)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: W410

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The module will consider varying practical approaches to the personal and auto/biographical on stage. A practical enquiry will enable the students to pursue and further their own interests and enhance their skillset while learning new methods and strategies to create and devise embodied and self-generated performance in a collaborative manner. The module will take as case studies a range of theatrical styles and conventions stemming from the 20th and early 21st century’s theatre history; it will be as important to consider the staging and performing of the self within the history of theatrical avant-garde or within contemporary radical Live Art practice as it is to consider current forms of collectively devised theatre. The students will be invited to create, devise and perform a piece of auto/biographical performance, either solo or collective.

Indicative content includes:

  • Autobiographical performance from 1960s-present

  • Gender and performance

  • Feminist performance and political activism

  • Intimacy, one-to-one performance

Systems are examined further through themed sessions referring to the work of specifi companies and practitionners: The following companies and / or practitioners are given here by way of example:

  • Bobby Baker

  • Curious

  • Forced Entertainment

  • Spalding Gray

  • Split Britches

  • Marina Abramovic and Ulay

  • Adrian Howells

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Devised autobiographical performance (Individual):                  100% (5-10 Minutes)

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate: first-hand experience, knowledge and critical understanding of 20th and 21st century’s personal and auto/personal performance and devised theatre; exploring practice as a means of interrogating into and understanding specific forms of personal and auto/biographical theatre and performance.

Thus, the performance outcome will address directly the relationship between the focus of the module and questions of the self and autobiographical material in contemporary performance, especially as these concern intersections between theatre and other arts practices (including political activism, feminism, documentary film and/ or visual arts).

Formative assessment and feedback


Students are to present their group performance on Week 10. Prior to this sessions will be dedicated to supervised and mentored devising and rehearsal process during which the students will be encouraged to show their findings to the teacher and share concerns and thoughts in an informal settings.

Module aims

  • Provide a practical overview of theories and practices of autobiographical and personal performance in twentieth and twenty-first century theatre (a, b, d)
  • Enable students to consider and engage critically and analytically with the body in performance (c, e, h)
  • Enable students to physically explore ideas as a mode of personal expression and communication (c, g, h)
  • Introduce ethical issues in working with personal material.
  • KEY: Letters in parentheses (a, b, etc) correspond to the Educational Aims of the Programme (see Programme Specification, Section 18)

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed Ref
001 Demonstrate a creative and embodied engagement, through performance exercises and presentation, with the key principles of auto/biographical performance and use those as a foundation from which to develop original performance material (A2, B2) KC
002 Engage critically and analytically with the body in performance; and carry out a project through to performance that engages with and articulates personal and auto/biographical material (A1, A2, B2, C1, C3) KC
003 Learn about the ethics of working with personal material (B2) KCT
004 Learn how to engage in practice-based research and explore theoretical concerns through practice and to synthesise findings in practical tasks (D1, D2, D3, D4) KCT
005 Relate to others in theatrical processes and performances; to work effectively with others in small task-orientated groups and to initiate and sustain creative, analytic and interpretative work within strict time limits and basic technical competence (A2, C1, C3) PT
006 Express and communicate creative ideas and images; ability to initiate and sustain creative work, both group and solo (A2, C1, C3) PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Seminar Hours: 22

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: enhance first-hand knowledge and experience of 20th and 21st-century personal and autobiographical performance; foster technical and performance skills; enhance confidence and the ability to articulate and present ideas clearly and effectively.

Indicative learning and teaching methods include: workshops, supervised and unsupervised rehearsals, group discussions and readings, peer-to-peer learning, independent research and reflection.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 11x2hr practical classes. At the start of the module, students will receive an outline of the practical classes, which is likely to list staff-led workshops, student work (individually or in groups) and assessment (formative/summative). 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Theatre and Performance with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance with Film Studies BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Dance with Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.