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Unit information: Performing the Archive: Re-use, Re-enactment and Adaptation in 2018/19

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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. Hindson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts


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 leads to a performance presentation at the Bristol Old Vic that responds to archival records about the building, those who have worked there and productions that have been staged.

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(6) effectively conceive, conceptualise and work constructively on a collaborative group project inspired by historical documents.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

9 x 2hr seminars; 9 x 3hr workshops. Occasional screenings will take place in class, and archive visits/workshops. The unit culminates in a 30-hour production period and group performances. Rehearsals are predominantly self-directed and this teaching is responsive.

Assessment Details

(1) 2,000-word essay (40%) ILO 1, 3, 4, 5

(2) Group performance, for a group mark (40%) ILO 1-3, 6

(3) Individual workfile, documenting and reflecting on the performance process (20%) 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. See handbook for detailed criteria for performances and workfiles.

Reading and References

Auslander, P (2006) ‘The Performativity of Performance Documentation.’ PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 28, no. 3, 1-10.

Bacon, Julie, ed. (2008) Arkive City, Ulster and Newcastle: Interface, University of Ulster and Locus+.

Merewether, Charles (2006) The Archive: Documents of Contemporary Art, London: Whitechapel.

Perteghella, Manuela (2008), 'Adaptation: "Bastard Child or Critique". Putting terminology centre stage', Journal of Romance Studies, Vol. 8, Nr.3, winter 2008, pp.51-65

Schneider, R. (2001) “Performance Remains”, Performance Research 6: 2, pp. 100-108.

Taylor, Diana (2007) The Archive and the Repertoire, Durham: Duke University Press.