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Unit information: Politics of Performance in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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 Politics of Performance
Unit code THTR20005
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mr. Peasey
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores the relationship between theatre and politics, focusing on theatre and performance events that have their roots in the explicit exploration of political issues or that are spurred by political action. Case studies span historical periods and could include suffrage parades and plays, agitprop, Welfare State International, sit-ins, the Occupy movement, along with recent approaches to political theatre. The unit will consider these examples in detailed social and historical context and in dialogue with questions concerning political, national, local and cultural identities. Students will undertake primary and secondary research around performance case studies and present material for formative and summative feedback.

Intended learning outcomes

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

(1) locate political theatre and performance events in their immediate context;

(2) analyse the efficacy of political theatre and performance events as means of resistance, critique, communication and expression;

(3) understand the relationship between theatre and issues of political, national, cultural and gender identity;

(4) demonstrate their ability to undertake primary and secondary research and use this research in a coherent and sustained argument as appropriate to Level I.

Teaching details

11 x 1 hour lectures and 11 x 1 hour seminars.

Assessment Details

Student-led seminar presentation, for a group mark (40%) ILO 1-3

3000 word essay (60%) ILO 1-4

Reading and References

Joe Kelleher (2009) Theatre and Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Baz Kershaw (2002) The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention

Jane de Gay and Lizbeth Goodman (2002) The Routledge Reader in Politics and Performance. London: Routledge

Susan C. Haedicke ed. (2009) Political Performances: Theory and Practice. Amsterdam: Rodopi

Sue Ellen Case and Janelle Reinelt eds. (1991) The Performance of Power: Theatrical Discourse and Politics. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press