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Unit information: Devised Performance in 2020/21

Unit name Devised Performance
Unit code THTR30003
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jones
Open unit status Not open

THTR10002 Production for Design and Performance OR DRAM10028 Production Skills for Performance 1



School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will explore a range of contemporary performance practices that do not use an already existing play text as their starting point, and investigate appropriate critical, historical and theoretical frameworks within which to analyse key examples as well as the students’ own practice. Practical workshops will explore strategies for devising, which might include text-based improvisation, physical or systems theatre, the use of multi-media, and found or verbatim texts. The unit will also explore the work of key historical and contemporary practitioners The unit will develop students’ creative and technical skills, and understanding of design, towards the production of an original piece of devised theatre.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. demonstrate the ability to research, develop, rehearse and stage an original devised performance.

2. demonstrate effective creative and constructive collaboration skills in group-based workshops and as an ensemble or company.

3. demonstrate the ability to work independently and reach individual, conceptually-informed judgements within a collaborative context.

4. generate sophisticated individual and group material inspired by given sources or starting points.

5. demonstrate professional skills within a chosen production area, demonstrating mastery of skills and advanced creativity, working to deadlines and within production budgets.

6. demonstrate effective application of tools for devising and production and be capable of adapting these methods to new material or rehearsal contexts.

7. take a directorial role, facilitating group exercises with confidence, offering constructive feedback and managing self-directed work.

8. discuss devising and production processes in a sophisticated and self-reflexive way, with reference to a range of advanced critical and theoretical ideas.

9. articulate group devising processes in a viva, account for decisions made and offer individual reflections or observations on the performance in response to questions.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous practical workshops, screenings, lectures and self-directed research exercises. Sessions will initially explore the devising methods of a range of relevant practitioners. In later sessions, students will form small devising companies; staff will supervise and offer feedback on self-directed group work, culminating in an intensive period and a performance, where possible. If a live physical performance is not possible, digital and other alternatives will be used to assess student practical work.

Assessment Details

  • Group performance (80%) Group mark
  • Viva (20%) Individual mark

The Viva will be 15 minutes long, structured such that there is 5 minutes in which the student can present their reflections, followed by 10 minutes of questions. These will be focused around critical discussion of the performance shown, individual understanding of group decisions, the conception of the work, understanding of its devising process, inspirations, wider context and how it could be developed further.

Reading and References

Bottoms, Stephen and Goulish, Matthew (eds.) (2007) Small Acts of Repair: performance, ecology, and Goat Island, London: Routledge.

Callery, Dymphna (2001) Through the Body: a practical guide to physical theatre, New York: Routledge.

Etchells, Tim (1999) Certain Fragments: contemporary performance and Forced Entertainment, London: Routledge.

Graham, Scott (2009) The Frantic Assembly book of devising theatre, London: Routledge.

Heddon, Deirdre (2006) Devising Performance: a critical history, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Oddey, Alison (1994) Devising Theatre: a practical and theoretical handbook, London: Routledge.