Skip to main content

Unit information: Performance Contexts in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Performance Contexts
Unit code DRAM10025
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kate Elswit
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to methods of contextualizing given theatrical performances, from considering theatre production as industry, to historically and place-specific questions of cultural, political and aesthetic context. These cultural and contextual frameworks are tested through focusing specifically on revivals, revisions and restagings, addressing issues by means of a central question: what is at stake when a performance from then and there, whether two years or two hundred years ago, is performed here and now? Performance Contexts prepares students for TB2 units, Producing the Performance and Staging the Text, by using the play chosen for those units as one of its case studies. The course will include an introduction to the Theatre Collection and to using performance archives, for historical research around a past production. Study of a chosen performance in Bristol will introduce incoming students to the local theatre culture and the city itself as a context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will

(1) have gained knowledge and critical understanding of historical/cultural and theoretical/aesthetic contexts in which performances occur;

(2) be able to evaluate various historical/cultural factors and how they function in analyzing performances for research and/or production;

(3) be able to apply contextual information appropriately in discussions, written and practical outputs.

Teaching Information

10 x 2-hour seminars. Additional screenings, museum visits or archive workshops and at least one theatre performance, as appropriate.

Assessment Information

One 1,500-word contextual case-study based on material in the Theatre Collection (30%) ILO 1-3;

One 2,500-word strategy for restaging, drawing on contextual research (70%) ILO 1-3;

Weekly participation in Blackboard discussions (required for credit; assessed for formative purposes). ILO 1-3.

Reading and References

Teresa Brayshaw and Noel Witts, eds. (2013) The Twentieth Century Performance Studies Reader, 3rd Edition.

Marvin Carlson (1993) Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Introduction.

Elinor Fuchs (2004) “EF’s Visit to a Small Planet: Some Questions to Ask a Play” Theater 34.2, 4-9.

Daniel Gerauld, ed. (2000) Theatre, Theory, Theatre.

“Reading Drama, Imagining Theater” (2009) in The Norton Anthology of Drama: Nineteenth Century to the Present, Gainor, Garner, Puchner (eds.), 81-85.

Janelle Reinelt and Joseph Roach (2006) Critical Theory and Performance: Revised and Enlarged Edition.