Human Comedy; Human Drama

The details
East 15 Acting School
Southend Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
09 March 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA W494 Acting and Physical Theatre

Module description

Part 1: Commedia dell’Arte
This core module begins in Term One of the 2nd year BA Physical Theatre course with an introduction to the history of commedia dell’arte. Students will be introduced to the techniques of commedia dell’arte performance and will explore commedia characters within the Italian and French traditions. Students will be introduced to contemporary adaptations of commedia dell’ arte and will develop individual and group performances based on commedia improvisation.

Part 2: Melodrama
The work on Melodrama in Term Two starts big, taking advantage of developmental work begun in other modules.

In the first term of their second year students started to look at attitudes in the body of great speech-makers, developing work started in their first year Mime module. Music explorations in the second term of the second year Skills module develop into an exploration of operatic songs. Tragic chorus explored in the Mime module is compared with the melodramatic chorus in this module.

The work of the module develops the actors’ relationship to the performance space. Students explore changing the space between performers using the timing and rhythm of melodrama and improvising around melodrama themes. They will choose texts and monologues to explore and examine degrees of contemporary melodrama from TV soaps to action films and film noir. Students will examine the diagonal trajectories between, for example, the individual and the family or the individual and society. They will find a body and a breath to express big emotional scales of acting that go beyond and above psychological realism.

Module aims

The module aims:
1. To examine and develop analysis and performance techniques required for commedia dell arte and melodrama
2. To extend student ability to produce scales of acting that transcend psychological realism
3. To develop the ability to create melodramatic performance work eg monologues and operatic songs

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Create and sustain improvisation within the disciplines of commedia dell' arte, naturalism and/or melodrama

  2. Demonstrate confidence in ensemble and/or monologue work

  3. Perform using the techniques of commedia dell' arte, naturalism and/or melodrama

  4. Successfully interpret text into a commedia dell' arte, naturalism and/or melodrama performance

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Practical classes, independent study, seminar, screenings, rehearsal.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Additional coursework information

Continuous assessment through classwork, rehearsal and studio performance 100%

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
Mr Simon Hunt, email: huntsj@essex.ac.uk.
Simon Hunt and staff
01702 32 8319



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

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.