Theatre and Human Rights

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
23 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module analyses relationships between performance, human rights, social justice and how performance might be deployed in the service of specific political and cultural agendas. This course will investigate critical issues in the field of theatre and human rights whilst developing practical professional skills required for working in socially engaged contexts.

The module will engage with a range of key theoretical methods and approaches. It will build on students' introduction to political and ideological debate in theatre practice by focusing on questions of freedom, responsibility, power and protection. The course will consider case studies of theatre work in action, theoretical frames to examine them, and current debates which inform and impact upon the field.

This module explores how political and cultural identity, resistance and belonging is performed in theatre. Of particular interest are performances that trouble how we think or talk about the intersection of rights and social justice with identity categories like race, gender, class, sexuality, age and disability. We will question who have the dominant voices, and how a rights-based performance practice can help build a counter-hegemonic alternative to an orthodox establishment.

This module will explore the traditions and practices of testimonial, verbatim, documentary and tribunal forms of theatre. Raising complex issues such as what it means to 'have a voice' in theatre, notions of authenticity and realness, and of representation and rights, it explores the shaping and framing of material from various sources, including interviews, media, archives and documents.

Module content note: topics may include genocide/racism/violence/sexual violence/homophobia. Please contact the module supervisor if you have any questions.

Module aims

The aims of the module are to:

1. Enhance the student’s awareness and understanding of contexts and histories of human rights, performance, and related arts practice.
2. Develop the student’s abilities to understand, evaluate, debate, and employ a range of knowledge, theories and methodologies which inform the diverse field of human rights.
3. Develop a theoretical and somatic approach to a range of performance and theatre practices.
4. Extend the range of relevant practical skills in applied theatre, socially engaged performance, and verbatim theatre available to students.
5. Engage students in the development and deployment of innovative new research methods and practices of enquiry
6. Provide the student with appropriate conceptual, technical, practical, and research skills that will be required as part of the BA programme and for onward graduate employment.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the social, cultural and aesthetic perspectives of rights-based representations in theatre and performance.
2. Evaluate and respond to a range of rights-based discourses in theatre and theory, using a critical and analytical vocabulary.
3. Display a sophisticated critical understanding of the play texts under consideration and be able to communicate the implications of staging these texts.
4. Situate the texts in their cultural, political and historical context, and be able to distinguish the variety of ways human rights theatre has adapted in its approach to changing political and cultural situations.
5. Produce organized, coherently structured and critically engaged written and/or oral work on the subject of human rights theatre and performance.
6. Demonstrate effective project design in the field of theatre and human rights: such as the development of concept, relationships, script, scenario and workshop/performance.
7. Cooperate as part of a group in offering a performative exploration of a chosen topic relating to the course material.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery : A combination of weekly 2-hour or 3-hour classes and a final workshop and performance


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

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Practical   Performance  20/03/2024   

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
Dr Elizabeth Bennett, email:
Dr Elizabeth Bennett
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Christina Papagiannouli
University of South Wales
Research Fellow
Available via Moodle
Of 67 hours, 24 (35.8%) hours available to students:
15 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
28 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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