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Unit information: Devised Performance in 2018/19

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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 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 practitioners, such as: Pina Bausch, DV8, Forced Entertainment, Goat Island, Robert Wilson, The Wooster Group. The unit will develop students’ creative and technical skills, and understanding of design, towards the production of an original piece of devised theatre for public performance.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Research, develop, rehearse and stage an original devised performance.

2. collaborate constructively and creatively in group-based workshops and perform effectively as an ensemble or company.

3. 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. work professionally within a chosen production area, demonstrating mastery of skills and advanced creativity, working to deadlines and within production budgets.

6. effectively apply the tools for devising and production introduced 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. articulately describe 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

2 x 3 hour devising or production workshops each week, for 8 weeks, followed by a 2-week intensive production period of around 50 hours. Workshops will initially be taught, involving the delivery of devising methods; later staff will supervise and offer feedback on self-directed group work.od

Assessment Details

  • Group performance (70%) ILO 1-7
  • Viva (30%) ILO 3, 8, 9

Performances vary in nature and duration, and students take roles in one or more of production, directing or performing. Each of the assessments is for an 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. See handbook for detailed criteria for performances and workfiles.

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.