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Unit information: Performing the Archive: Re-use, Re-enactment and Adaptation in 2021/22

Unit name Performing the Archive: Re-use, Re-enactment and Adaptation
Unit code THTR20012
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Paul Clarke
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores how working with archival objects can aid the understanding and meanings of theatre history. Through a series of seminars, the unit will investigate the relationship between performance and documentation, between the archive and history, including oral histories, memory and the embodied repertoire. It will also consider a range of creative approaches to archival material, looking at work by theatre companies, in the heritage sector and in education. In workshop sessions students on the unit will work closely with archival material from the University’s Theatre Collection. This work might draw on any of the archives held by the Theatre Collection, for instance the Bristol Old Vic, the Theatre department or the Live Art archive. Research leads to a performance presentation, where possible in a relevant location, such as the Bristol Old Vic.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

(1) demonstrate archival skills: locating material on a catalogue, calling up material, using some un-catalogued documents.

(2) employ a number of practical approaches to engaging with archival materials in performance; be able to work with documents of past performances, using them to inspire new creative work.

(3) demonstrate an awareness and understanding of key theoretical ideas concerning the relationship between performance and the archive, and be able to articulate and apply these in discussion, writing and practice.

(4) demonstrate an awareness of exemplary performances that have engaged with re-using documents, re-enactment, revival and remaking past works.

(5) structure an argument, supported by relevant archival, contextual and theoretical research.

(6) effectively conceive, conceptualise and work constructively on a collaborative group project inspired by historical documents.

(7) reflect critically on the process, on their individual role in the collaboration and account for group decisions

Teaching Information

9 x seminars; 9 x workshops. Occasional screenings will take place in class, and archive visits/workshops where these are possible. The unit culminates in a production period and group performances. Rehearsals are predominantly self-directed and this teaching is responsive.

Assessment Information

(1) Group performance, for a group mark (60%) ILO 1-3, 6

(2) Individual viva, documenting and reflecting on the performance process (40%) ILO 1-4, 6, 7

Group performances will be 10-20 minutes in length; the duration may vary, depending on the nature of the performance.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. THTR20012).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.