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TH343-15 Applying Theatre: Histories, Geographies, Practices

SCAPVC - Theatre and Performance Studies
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Bobby Smith
Credit value
Module duration
9 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Students on this module will learn through a combination of theory and practice to explore current debates within applied theatre. Topics explored may include uses of theatre and drama in education, applied theatre with refugees and theatre in global development contexts.

Module web page

Module aims

Exploring the histories of applied theatre and the varied geographical contexts in which practice occurs, this module aims to introduce students to the key ways in which theatre is applied to meet a range of objectives pertaining to global development, education, health and wellbeing and more. The contexts and practices of applied theatre are continually shifting, therefore this module engages with both the fluidity of practice and the dominant and emergent debates that are shaping research and practice, including the ethics of intervention, sustainability and issues around instrumentalising theatre to achieve social and educative outcomes. Students will engage in ongoing personal reflection throughout the module, considering how the theories and projects engaged with could shape their future work in the field. This learning will be consolidated through the assessment method - a reflective portfolio.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

WEEK ONE: Introduction to applied theatre: histories and geographies
WEEK TWO: Key concepts: social change, activism, participation and social justice
WEEK THREE: Key practice: Theatre of the Oppressed – critical perspectives and practical workshops (potential for externally-led workshop. For example, with Cardboard Citizens?)
WEEK FOUR: Key practice: Theatre and Drama in Education – key theories and practical workshop (potential for externally-led workshop. For example, with Tender Education and Arts)
WEEK FIVE: Theatre and Global Development
WEEK SEVEN: Theatre, health and wellbeing
WEEK EIGHT: Theatre with refugees and migrants (potential for externally-led workshop or lecture. For example, Dr Anne Smith, from Creative English project looking at belonging and applied theatre with refugees)
WEEK NINE: What next for applied theatre? Challenges for applied theatre practices, challenges to address through applied theatre
WEEK TEN: Reflecting on the module and support with assessment.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • - Engage with a range of global case studies that demonstrate the trajectories of applied theatre practice across the global North and South
  • - Experience and critique some of the foundational forms of applied theatre practice through workshops, lectures and student-led reflection, including in their assessed portfolio
  • - Understand and challenge key concepts and practices in applied theatre and consider how these may relate to their future practice, including through the development of a written project pitch which must consider ethical and logistical issues broadly relevant to a career in the arts (e.g. funding, partnerships) alongside their personal reflections in their portfolio
Indicative reading list

Balfour et al. (2015) Applied Theatre: Resettlement: Drama, Refugees and Resilience, Methuen

Prentki, Tim (2015) Applied Theatre: Development, Methuen

Freebody, Kelly and Michael Finneran (Eds.) (2016) Drama and Social Justice: Theory, Research and Practice in International Contexts, Routledge

Emert, Toby and Ellie Friedland (Eds.) (2011) Come Closer: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed, Peter Lang.

Baxter, Veronica and Katharine Low (2017) Applied Theatre: Performing Health and Wellbeing, Methuen

Preston, Sheila (2016) Applied Theatre: Facilitation, Methuen

Hughes, Jenny and Helen Nicholson (2016) Critical Perspectives on Applied Theatre, CUP

Nicholson, Helen (2015) Applied Drama: the gift of theatre, 2nd ed., Palgrave

The journals Research in Drama Education and Applied Theatre Research

Subject specific skills

Demonstrate an awareness of the key theories and influences on applied theatre, being able to critically assess the ethics and impact of projects
Reflect upon current practices through case studies, and how these relates to a range of conceptual and practical positions relating to applied theatre

Transferable skills

Develop realistic and appropriate project aims with an awareness of timeline and budgetary issues
Engage in reflection, considering how theory and practice interrelate

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 6 sessions of 3 hours (12%)
Tutorials 8 sessions of 30 minutes (3%)
Project supervision 4 sessions of 30 minutes (1%)
Practical classes 3 sessions of 3 hours (6%)
Private study 17 hours (11%)
Assessment 100 hours (67%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description
  • Reading for each lecture (1-2 hours per week - 18 hours)
  • Independent watching shows, workshop etc. (up to 3 hours)


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Applied Theatre reflective portfolio 100% 100 hours

Students will need to submit a portfolio comprising three elements:

  • Critical reflections on at least 4 sessions they have attended in the module, where they will need to engage with the possibilities and limitations of the subjects explored, and make links to how they think this would inform their own practice (approx 1,600 words);
  • Critique of a case study of their choice (1,600 words)
  • A written project pitch including context, aims and objectives and other supporting materials the student believes necessary (for example, workshop plans, funding information, project plan) (approx 1,600 words)
Feedback on assessment

Written and oral


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 4 of UENA-QW35 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies with Intercalated Year
  • UTHA-W421 Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies
    • Year 3 of W421 Theatre and Performance Studies
    • Year 3 of W421 Theatre and Performance Studies
  • Year 4 of UTHA-W422 Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies (with Intercalated Year)

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 3 of UTHA-QW34 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies