PA4005 - Reading Drama and Performance

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What will I learn on this module?

Reading Performance is a lecture/seminar based module which introduces you to a range of theatre practices within an academic context. In the first semester, you will focus on practices relating to character, text and narrative. Within lectures/seminars ideas and perspectives will be presented to you on practitioners such as Stanislavski and Brecht, and the innovations and contributions they made to theatrical practice. We will also be working with you to help open up some important critical and academic texts which present new research and ways of thinking about these practitioners. Throughout the classes you will be asked to contribute ideas, discuss, watch and respond to a range of stimuli presented to you by lecturers.

In the second semester we look more closely at contemporary performance practices, practices which frequently do not incorporate ‘narrative,’ ‘character’ and ‘dramatic action’ in traditional ways. We look at examples such as the theatre of Samuel Beckett, Antonin Artaud and at contemporary performance practices. We discuss and debate the nature of these practices, their aims and effects on audiences. Throughout the module you will be given a chance to develop ways of communicating complex ideas and individual thoughts about your subject both in speech and in writing.

How will I learn on this module?

This is an academic module which is taught through the format of lecture/seminar. In each lecture, the lecturer will share with you and help you to understand some key ideas and concepts relating to different kinds of theatre practice. The lectures will be delivered in varied ways; you won’t only be listening to lecturers but also asked to try out ideas, to watch pieces of film and respond to a range of questions and provocations. It is an environment that encourages dialogue and debate, informed by your engagement with texts that we will look at on the course. Seminars consist of much smaller group discussions with a tutor, where there is even more emphasis on contributions to discussions by individual students. The use of the e-learning portal (Blackboard) will be a key feature of the module; here you will find regularly updated course materials and readings which will be updated regularly throughout the year.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your learning is supported in a number of ways throughout the module. The classes themselves are structured in a way which is responsive to your needs; lecturers will explore ideas with you and ask you to affirm your understanding of them, and you will be given response tasks in classes to which lecturers will feed back to you, which will help you to measure for yourself your own progress on the module. A series of texts will be selected for you to read which will help you to navigate your way through the module, and these texts will be directly spoken to in classes so that your reading is supported. The module’s assessments (oral presentation and essay) will be talked through with you in detail in classes, and there will be ample opportunity to speak with lectures outside of these classes.
Information and resources will be available to you on Blackboard and the ‘Reading List’ contains links to websites and online video material which can help you develop appropriate knowledge and understanding.

Written assessment feedback will be provided within 20 working days of summative assignment submission. Access to library facilities is available 24-7 all year round.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Be able to demonstrate a growing understanding of a range of theatrical practices and their underlying concepts.
2. Be able to show an awareness of the differences between key theatrical strategies in terms of aesthetics and politics.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate a developing ability to engage in critical reflection on theatre practice.
4. Demonstrate a developing ability to construct arguments about theatre both in oral and written form.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Show some willingness to share ideas and knowledge in group discussions.

How will I be assessed?


Formative feedback is woven into the module via ongoing class discussions. In classes there will be opportunities to respond, to question and to contribute to discussion, and lecturers will be responding to student contributions, and this is a form of ongoing formative feedback. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Essay (2000 words). This essay asks you to articulate and sustain an argument in response to a set question which arises directly from the lecture and seminar classes. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Oral presentation (8 minutes). In the presentation you are asked to discuss one of the topics from the lecture series, draw out an aspect of that topic, and open up a perspective on it for the class to consider. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)





Module abstract

This module is concerned with thinking, talking and writing about theatre, drama and performance. Through a series of lectures and seminars we will be working with you to research a range of theatre topics, key practitioners and performance makers. You will have the opportunity to develop and contribute ideas of your own, and test these ideas out through discussion, presentation and writing. We will be investigating some of the most significant developments in modern theatre practice, and looking more generally at the ways in which theatre shapes and is shaped by culture. Through this module you will have the opportunity to develop yourselves as independent thinkers. An ability to critically analyse can further enhance the quality of your practice supporting your learning across your whole programme.

Course info

UCAS Code W400

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

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