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Unit information: Early Modern Theatre Practice 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 Early Modern Theatre Practice
Unit code THTR20013
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Eleanor Rycroft
Open unit status Not open

THTR10002 Production for Design and Performance



School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Students will encounter a range of performance texts and contexts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in a unit which emphasises modes of staging and early modern performative practices. The students will develop understanding of indoors and outdoors performances: commercial amphitheatres such as The Globe, private playhouses such as The Blackfriars, as well as aristocratic forms of theatre such as dining hall drama, pageants, royal entries and court masques. In the second half of the unit they will focus on texts and performance skills, including early modern rehearsal and acting techniques; uses of space in the early modern drama; and the production of gender, race, and class on the stage. By the end of the unit, students will have a thorough understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of early modern theatre, as well as a detailed knowledge of early modern practices of playing including verse-speaking, stagecraft, costume, make-up, music, and clowning.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1) demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of early modern playing contexts and how these inform playwrighting of the period

2) demonstrate understanding of the key theoretical and theatrical concerns in both current and contemporaneous criticism of the early modern drama as appropriate to level I.

3) apply a range of critical approaches to reading and interpreting early modern playtexts, and explore their practical implications on-stage

4) demonstrate knowledge of a range of early modern performative techniques and understanding of their practical application

5) demonstrate the ability to analyse and evaluate early modern performance both in terms of their own practice and the practice of others

6) conceptualise and perform a collaborative group project based on an early modern playtext, and develop their skills in acting and/or dramaturgy and/or directing

Teaching details

9 X 2-hour seminars

9 x 3-hour workshops

A 30 hour intensive production period culminating in a group performance

Assessment Details

One 2000 word essay (40%) ILO 1, 2, 3

Group performance, for an individual mark, which may be grouped if appropriate (40%) ILO 3, 4, 6

Individual workfile documenting and reflecting on the performance process (20%) ILO 3 – 6

The performance duration will vary, depending on its nature, but groups can expect to perform for up to 20 minutes

Reading and References

John Barton (1984), Playing Shakespeare, London: Methuen

Cicely Berry (2001), Text in Action, London: Random House

Dympna Callaghan (2000), Shakespeare Without Women, London: Routledge

Simon Palfrey and Tiffany Stern (2007), Shakespeare in Parts, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Tanya Pollard (2003), Shakespeare’s Theatre: A Sourcebook, Oxford: Blackwell

Martin White (1998), Renaissance Drama in Action, London: Routledge