Ritual and Religious Performance

The details
East 15 Acting School
Southend Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
08 April 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA W495 World Performance

Module description

This second year BA World Performance module uses phenomenological and anthropological approaches to defining and analysing Ritual and its relationship to performance in a range of world contexts, including performance practices from a variety of cultural and historical backgrounds which arise from or form part of religious observance.

As well as an overview of key instances of ritual and/or religious performance, the module offers students the chance to explore in depth one or two such forms of performance, with specific attention to the interaction of performer and audience, and the issues of performer training and community participation. The module includes workshops and classes to develop students' performance skills as relevant to the specific case studies.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:
1. To offer an overview of theoretical approaches to the study of ritual in World Performance.
2. To study one or two forms of ritual or religious performance, engaging with cultural context, ideas, history and the relevant skills for each form.
3. To allow students to conduct independent research into an area of their own choosing related to ritual and performance.
4. To engage students in a collaborative presentation project allowing experimentation and practice in the field of ritual performance.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to demonstrate:
1. Knowledge and understanding of a range of ritual and religious performances, including their relationship to cultural and historical context.
2. Knowledge and understanding of the relationship between ritualised performance, its practitioners, and their community.
3. Skills appropriate to performance in at least one major form of ritual or religious performance.
4. The ability to collaborate creatively with others to produce an original piece of practical work.
5. The ability to reflect on, critically evaluate, and articulate their own aims and achievements in practical project work.

Module information

1. Defining ritual in and as performance
Building on Year One work in Theatre Anthropology, and introducing the work of Richard Schechner, a consideration of the ritual roots of much World Performance and the interpretative implications of this complex interrelation.

2. Sacred Performance
An examination and practical exploration of performance forms situated within or arising from an explicitly sacred context (e.g. Balinese Temple Dance, African spirit-dance, Native American hunting dance, etc).

3. Ritualised Performance
Study of performance forms in which recognisable ritual is a major element of both the creation and the spectation of the work (e.g. State rituals, Noh Theatre, Chinese Opera, Javanese Shadow Puppetry, etc).

4. Group Practical Project
Working under the guidance of tutors , students will create short ritual or religion based presentations, demonstrating understanding and skills derived from the lectures and practical classes.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and practical classes.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Research Essay    40% 
Practical   Presentation    40% 
Practical   Continuous Assessment    20% 

Additional coursework information

Case Study (2000-3000 words) or a short documentary film (10 minutes) on a negotiated topic examining a ritual or religious performance, which should include substantial illustrative material. Group presentation of ritual-influenced performance.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Nick Logue, Margaret Coldiron



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
East 15 Acting School

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