Module code: THE1027

Module Overview

This module introduces students to the discipline of Theatre and Performance Studies. It provides an introduction to the core knowledge underpinning the Theatre and Performance programme, focussing on influential and radical theatre and performance practices and practitioners that have shaped theatre history in national and international contexts, as well as companies and practitioners who might otherwise be excluded from, or work to challenge, the establishment of a “canon” of work.


The module introduces students to a range of theatre and performance practices and the ideas informing them from the late nineteenth century through to the present day. The module begins by charting the emergence of modernism and the avant-garde in theatre, indicatively starting with practices associated with Romanticism, Symbolism, Naturalism and Realism before working through key historical avant-garde movements such as Futurism and Dada, and core practices such as the Theatre of Cruelty and Epic Theatre. It then traces a series of post-war developments indicatively working through the transition from modernism to postmodernism, and looking at areas such as Happenings, postmodern theatre, performance art, postdramatic theatre, live art, feminist theatre, the LGBTQ movement, verbatim theatre, immersive theatre and current trends in theatre and performance.


The module will address a series of issues that are raised by these practices, which may include: mimesis, representation and ‘the real’; art-for-art’s-sake versus instrumental art; art and/as institution; the ‘activation’ of audiences; riots and protest; individual, community and state power; the challenge to the authority of the playwright and director via collective creation and devising; and class, race, gender and sexual identity.

Module provider

Guildford School of Acting

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 30

ECTS Credits: 15

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

JACs code: W440

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

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:


The module will introduce a series of texts (written and performed) to offer students a genealogical sense of theatre and performance as evolving practices with accompanying academic disciplines. Lines will be drawn between theatre, performance, society and the political and theatre and performance practices will be introduced as historically innovative aesthetic mediums for social and political experimentation. It exposes students to diverse performance texts, documentation and scholarship, and approaches theatre and performance as innovative sites of experimentation, radicalism and protest.


The module will provide access to a range of sources that might inform the analysis of texts, together with opportunities for discussion and debate of their suitability for analysing theatre texts (written and performed). A strong emphasis is placed on critical analysis, reflection and debate, encouraging students to find their own critically-informed voice when thinking, writing and talking about theatre and performance today. To these ends, this module introduces politically- and ethically-significant topics ranging from misogyny and racism, to studies of class, trauma, and political crises.

The module will engage with a breadth of theatre forms, techniques and theory. Indicative subjects of study and case studies include: Symbolism; Naturalism; Futurism; Dadaism; German Expressionism; Surrealism; Epic Theatre; Theatre of Cruelty; the Situationist International; Allan Kaprow; the Living Theatre; the Wooster Group; Augusto Boal; Welfare State International; Bread and Puppet Theatre; Robert Wilson; Verbatim Theatre; the shift from theatre studies to performance studies; protest and/as performance; Carolee Schneemann; Annie Sprinkle; Marina Abramović; Ron Athey; William Pope.L; the Black Arts Movement; Split Britches; Complicité; Goat Island; Robert Lepage; Ivo van Hove; Adrienne Kennedy; Punchdrunk; Kwame Kwei-Armah; Fevered Sleep and Pussy Riot.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY 1 - 1500 WORDS 50
Coursework ESSAY 2 - 1500 WORDS 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to work toward the following learning outcomes:

Identify theoretical and methodological developments in theatre as a form that relates to changing artistic, historical and political contexts
Apply theoretically-informed approaches to the analysis of theatre in culture, with awareness of key historical, political and/or aesthetic perspectives
Conduct research with a range of tools and across a range of resources to produce informed and clearly-communicated academic argument

Thus, the summative assignment for this module consists of two academic essays to enable students to demonstrate all of the above. The essays require students to select a theoretical or methodological paradigm from a range of options (i), and to utilize this paradigm in the analysis of a performance or text (ii). It further requires students to present that analysis in a clear and cohesive fashion, building to a well-founded and well-presented argument (iii). In the first essay, students will be asked for focus on practices relating to the historical period running from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century; whereas in the second essay, they will be asked to address practices from the mid-twentieth century to the present day.


Formative assessment


Formative assessment takes two forms in this module. Firstly, students will receive formative oral feedback from the tutor in response to weekly in-class presentations. Secondly, to aid them in developing a robust argument in their summative essays, students will be offered written feedback on a 300-word abstract and essay plan submitted mid-way through each term. This assessment strategy is designed to encourage both critical analysis and independent, creative thinking within scholarly enquiry, ensuring that students are supported along the way in developing their ideas.





This assessment strategy, with a formative assignment placed mid-way through both terms, is intended to encourage critical thinking and analysis at a fairly early stage, while providing an important stepping stone towards the summative assessment. The 300-word abstract and essay plan will provide an opportunity for the module tutor to provide written feedback which will take into account: effective essay planning; the formation of a skeletal, but clear and concise argument; the proposal of clearly defined claims and observations; and a suitable depth of engagement with scholarly literature.

Module aims

  • To provide core knowledge of theatre and performance practices and studies as a foundation to the Theatre and Performance programme.
  • To consider theatre and performance in historical context, both in terms of the form of theatre itself and in terms of the operation and interpretation of theatre in wider culture(s).
  • To introduce students to the aesthetic and political significances of theatre.
  • To enable students to use informed and relevant critical vocabularies and research methods.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed Ref
001 Identify theoretical and methodological developments in theatre as a form that relates to changing artistic, historical and political contexts CK
002 Apply theoretically-informed approaches to the analysis of theatre in culture, with awareness of key historical, political and/or aesthetic perspectives CKT
003 Conduct research with a range of tools and across a range of resources to produce informed and clearly-communicated academic argument PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 260

Lecture Hours: 40

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Enhance knowledge of nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first-century theatre practice and theory
Foster critical thinking and analytical skills (particularly with regards to theatre and performance analysis), as well as evaluative skills
Enhance confidence and ability to articulate ideas clearly and effectively;

Nurture effective argumentative skills;
Promote supportive spaces for deliberation, contestation and debate.

Indicative learning and teaching methods include:

Lecture/seminars, workshops, field trips, peer-to-peer learning and independent research and reflection.

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


Other information

Under the three term structure that commences from academic year 2019/0 – this module’s delivery is year-long due to the teaching occurring in Teaching Blocks 1 and 2.

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 2020/1 academic year.