Introduction to Theatre Studies

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
15 April 2019


Requisites for this module


TH142, TH205, TH241, TH243

Key module for

BA W401 Drama,
BA W402 Drama (Including Year Abroad),
BA W403 Drama (Including Placement Year),
BA W408 Drama (Including Foundation Year),
BA QW24 Drama and Literature,
BA QW25 Drama and Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA WQ28 Drama and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA WQ42 Drama and Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA P400 Film and Drama,
BA P401 Film and Drama (Including Year Abroad),
BA P402 Film and Drama (Including Placement Year),
BA P403 Film and Drama (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module introduces students to some important texts as well as some key ideas in theatre studies. All sessions involve a practical workshop; we will investigate how theatre examines ideas in practice.

During the autumn term we will look at a range of plays to see how different writers and theatre practitioners have developed a range of theatrical forms and styles. We look at plays written during 5th century BCE Athens, to the Middle Ages, to those written during the 20th century. These texts will form the basis for the discussion of issues of genre, representation, narrative structures, theatricality, characterization, gender, the internal world, modernism, the post-dramatic, identity, learning disability theatre, as well as the idea of ‘the Other’.

During the Spring Term we look at ways of approaching and analysing theatre. Units on theatre history and biography are matched by explorations of concepts such as the audience, time, space, genre, performativity and theatre as social protest.

During the summer term, there is a one week intensive training and practical workshops led by a theatre director. Students will work in groups towards an assessed practical piece of performance which they will present to each other and the examiners at the end of the week. Students are expected to work all week on this project which takes place during the first week of the summer term.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

1. To develop an overview and critical understanding of the key ideas in theatre studies.
2. To investigate and evaluate a range of theatrical forms and styles, using examples from 5th century BCE Athens through to the 20th century.
3. To explore and critially understand concepts such as the audience, time, space, genre, performativity and theatre as social protest.

Module learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. have a more detailed and critical understanding of a selection of major texts and key ideas within theatre studies
2. investigate and evaluate how theatre examines ideas in practice
3. discuss and critically interrogate a range of issues, including genre, representation, narrative structures, theatricality, gender, modernism, self and other.
4. have developed some of the practical skills of performance

Module information

Please note that this course is taught by a mixture of seminar and practical workshop. Students will be required to join in with practical drama exercises, and to have group practical work assessed at the end of term two.

Learning and teaching methods

This course is taught by seminar/workshops. Active participation is essential.


  • Leach, Robert. (2013) Theatre studies: the basics, New York: Routledge.
  • Jackson G. Barry. (1973) 'Shakespeare's "Deceptive Cadence": A Study in the Structure of Hamlet', in Shakespeare Quarterly: Folger Shakespeare Library. vol. 24 (2) , pp.117-127
  • Goode, Chris. (©2015) 'Space and Place', in The forest and the field: changing theatre in a changing world, London: Oberon Books.
  • Balme, Christopher B. (2008) The Cambridge introduction to theatre studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kershaw, Baz; Nicholson, Helen. (2011) Research methods in theatre and performance, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. vol. Research methods for the arts and humanities
  • Gary Day. (2016) The Story of Drama: Tragedy, Comedy and Sacrifice from the Greeks to the Present, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Marissia Fragkou; Lynnette Goddard. (2013) 'Acting In/Action: Staging Human Rights in Debbie Tucker Green's Royal Court Plays’', in Contemporary British theatre: breaking new ground, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.145-166
  • (2015) The Orphan of Zhao and other Yuan plays: the earliest known versions, New York: Columbia University Press. vol. Translations from the Asian classics
  • Sartre, Jean-Paul. (1989) No exit, and three other plays, New York: Vintage International.
  • Esslin, Martin. (2018) The theatre of the absurd, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Howell, Anthony. (c1999) 'Mimicry and Repetition', in The analysis of performance art: a guide to its theory and practice, Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.
  • Nicholson, Helen. (2011) Theatre, education and performance : the map and the story: Macmillan Education UK.
  • Mankell, Henning; Thompson, Laurie. (2011, ©2005) A bridge to the stars, New York: Delacorte Press.
  • Green, Debbie Tucker. (2011) Truth and reconciliation, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Odom, Glenn. (2017) World theories of theatre, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Beckett, Samuel. (1965) Waiting for Godot: a tragicomedy in two acts, London: Faber and Faber.
  • Sophocles; Taylor, Don; Varakis, Angie. (2006) Antigone, London: Methuen Drama.

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 Weighting
Coursework   Formative assessment: Essay 1 plan (100 words)    0% 
Coursework   Essay 1 (2,000 words)     15% 
Coursework   Essay 2 (2,000 words) OR Individual Creative portfolio     40% 
Practical   Practical Assignment (intensive week)     40% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Mary Mazzilli, email:
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Anthony Fisher
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Reader in Theatre and Philosophy
Available via Moodle
Of 447 hours, 78 (17.4%) hours available to students:
369 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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