Interactive Performance-making: Shaping Audience Participation

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Spring & Summer
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 02 July 2021
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module enables BA Drama/BA Drama and Literature students to explore contemporary trends in British and international interactive theatre and performance making. Students will develop an understanding of a range of participatory performance forms through examination and discussion of the recent work of key contemporary practitioners, and through practical work exploring emerging approaches and concerns.

Themes for exploration will include examining the ethics of participation and the face-to-face encounter, engagement with technologies that prompt interaction, interrogating the techniques of the invitation to the audience and analysing different descriptors/conceptualisations of the theatre spectator and the value judgements that they introduce (e.g. 'audience', 'spectator', 'spect-actor', 'beholder', 'voyeur', 'witness', 're-enactor', 'player', 'immersant', 'mob' etc.).

Adjacent to an exploration of these themes in practice, this course will cultivate a theoretical awareness of the politics of audience participation, agency and labour. This interdisciplinary area of enquiry will overlap with key debates that have emerged in fine art, installations and 'relational aesthetics' concerning the shaping of live experiences that are completed by the involvement of unrehearsed participants.

The course is divided into two main parts: In the first half of term, the students will examine different case studies and encounter a range of approaches to interactive theatre making. In the second half of the course, students will devise - independently but with supervision and support - a 15-20 minute performance inspired by their research and performed for their peers.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:
- To develop a knowledge of a range of creative and critical methods and approaches to interactive performance-making
- To develop an understanding of relevant theories concerning the politics, agency, and ethics of participatory spectatorship
- To gain an understanding of the relationships between process and product in different performance work
- To develop organisational, improvisational, workshop and group working skills

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this course, student will have had opportunities to gain:

1. the ability to appreciate, engage critically, and develop work creatively, in a variety of theatre and performance modes, forms, and genres
2. an understanding of processes by which performances are created
3. an understanding of how different participatory forms engage with theory in audience reception and spectatorship
4. experience of engaging in performance-making, based on an acquisition and understanding of appropriate creative vocabularies, skills, structures, and working methods
5. the ability to work collaboratively, sharing responsibility, delegating, and, where appropriate, leading teams
6. skills in project management

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

For 2020-21, we will offer a mixture of tailored online, digital, and campus-based teaching where it may be possible and as appropriate, along with personalised one-to-one consultation with academic staff.


  • Danchev, Alex. (2011) 100 artists' manifestos, London: Penguin.
  • Kendrick, Lynne. (2017) Theatre aurality, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Machon, Josephine. (©2009, 2011) (Syn)aesthetics: redefining visceral performance, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Josephine Machon. (2013) Immersive theatres: intimacy and immediacy in contemporary performance, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • White, Gareth. (2013) Audience participation in theatre: aesthetics of the invitation, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ontroerend Goed (Theater company). (2014) All work and no plays: blueprints for 9 theatre performances, London, United Kingdom: Oberon Books Ltd.
  • Bishop, Claire. (2008) Participation, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press Ltd.
  • Harvie, Jen. (2013) Fair play: art, performance and neoliberalism, [Basingstoke]: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Heddon, Deirdre; Johnson, Dominic. (2016) It's All Allowed, Bristol: Intellect Books.
  • (2012) The Author, London: OBERON Books Ltd.
  • Boal, Augusto. (2002) Games for actors and non-actors, New York: Routledge.
  • Scheer, Edward; Klich, Rosemary. (2011) Multimedia Performance: Macmillan Education UK.
  • Ridout, Nicholas Peter. (©2006) Stage fright, animals, and other theatrical problems, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Paintin, Gemma; Stenhouse, James; Lavery, Carl; Action Hero (Performing group). (2015) Action plans: selected performance pieces, London: Oberon Books.
  • Nicholson, Helen. (2005) Applied drama: the gift of theatre, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. vol. Theatre and performance practices
  • Freshwater, Helen. (2009) Theatre & audience, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. vol. Theatre&

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   Essay (3,000 words)    45% 
Practical   Participation    5% 
Practical   Performance and Critical Reflection    50% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


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



External examiner

Dr Karen Savage
University of Lincoln
Head of School
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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