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TH205-30 Theatre in the Community

SCAPVC - Theatre and Performance Studies
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Saul Hewish
Credit value
Module duration
20 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description


Module aims

Theatre in the Community provides an exploration of theoretical and practical strategies that are currently in evidence within contemporary community theatre practice, with a particular emphasis on work in criminal justice and social agency settings. The work will include an examination of the key political or social philosophies that have informed such practice as well as an exploration of the role drama process plays in the work. This stage of the module includes an examination of how theories of psychology have informed theatre work with offenders as well as an overview of professional companies and artists working in the criminal justice system. Related fields of psychodrama and dramatherapy are also discussed. It continues with an introduction to practical strategies which encompass games and exercises for use with community groups. Within this there is reference to group-based drama skills, community contexts, and the primary objectives achievable within practice of this kind. The module is designed to prepare students for a practical project. In the final part of the module, participants will get to plan, devise and perform a performance or series of workshops within a criminal justice or social agency context in the Coventry or Staffordshire area.

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.

Term 1

  • Introduction to the course
  • Definitions of community - contexts/objectives/strategies
  • Historical & political roots of theatre in forensic and social agency settings
  • Government policy and the place of theatre in the community
  • Criminology, psychology & theatre in prisons
  • Workshops - Games & Exercises
  • Introduction to facilitation – structuring the drama workshop
  • Psychodrama
  • Dramatherapy
  • Assessed workshop

Term 2

  • Devising – skills and methodologies
  • Researching the context (preparation for performance project)
  • Devising and Rehearsals
  • Performances and Workshops
Learning outcomes

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

  • By the end of the module, students should be able to: 1)Lead a practice-based exploration of themes or ideas within a community context, working with, for example, young people, older people or offenders. 2)Lead a process of play or project devising appropriate for a community context. 3)Undertake independent research-based investigation to inform written and practical work. 4)Communicate what they have learnt orally and in writing.
Indicative reading list

Boal, A. (1979) Theatre of the Oppressed Pluto Press
Boal, A. (1998) Legislative Theatre: Using Performance to Make Politics Routledge
Diamond, D (2007) Theatre for Living: The Art and Science of Community-based Dialogue Trafford Publishing
Emunah, R. (1994) Acting for Real: Drama Therapy Process, Technique, and Performance Brunner-Mazel Inc
Hughes, J. (2005) Doing the Arts Justice: A Review of Research Literature,
Practice and Theory The Unit for the Arts and Offenders/Centre for Applied Theatre Research (
Jackson, T. (ed) (1993) Learning Through Theatre: New Perspectives on Theatre in Education Routledge
Jennings, S (ed) (2009) Dramatherapy and Social Theatre Routledge
Johnston, C (1998) House of Games: Making Theatre from Everyday Life Nick Hern Books
Johnstone, K (1981) Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre Methuen
Jones, P (1995) Drama as Therapy: Theatre as Living Volume 1 and (2010) Volume 2 Routledge
Kershaw, B. (1992) The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention Routledge
Kershaw, B. (1999) The Radical in Performance: Between Brecht and Baudrillard Routledge
Matarasso, F. (1997) Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts Comedia Arts
Nicholson, H. (2005) Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan
Policy Action Team 10 (1999) Report on Social Exclusion Department of Culture Media and Sport (
Robinson, K. (2011 (2nd Edition)) Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative Capstone
Schutzman, M. & Cohen-Cruz, J. (eds) (1993) Playing Boal: Theatre Therapy, Activism Routledge
Taylor, P (2003) Applied Theatre: Creating Transformative Encounters in the Community Heinemann
Thompson, J. (2003) Applied Theatre: Bewilderment And Beyond Peter Lang Publishers

Practical Work
Barker, C. (1977) Theatre Games: A New Approach to Drama Training Methuen
Boal, A. (1992) Games for Actors and Non-Actors Routledge
Boal, A. (1994) The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy Routledge
Brandes, D. & Phillips, H. (1979) Gamesters' Handbook: 140 Games for Teachers and Group Leaders: No. 1 Stanley Thomas Publishers Ltd.
Cattanach, A. (1996) Drama for People with Special Needs A and C Black
Fine, N. & Macbeth, F. (1995) Playing with Fire: Creative Conflict Resolution for Young Adults New Society Publishing
Herrmann, A. & Clifford, S. (1998) Making a Leap: Theatre for Empowerment - Practical Handbook for Creative Drama Work with Young People Jessica Kingsley
Hodgson, J. & Richards E. (2000) Improvisation Avalon Travel Publications
Holmes, P. & Kemp, M. (eds) (1990) Psychodrama: Inspiration and Technique Routledge
Jellicoe, A. (1987) Community Plays: How to Put Them On Methuen
Jennings, S. (1986) Creative Drama in Groupwork Winslow Press
Johnston, C. (2006) The Improvisation Game: Discovering the Secrets of Spontaneous Performance Hick Hern Books
Johnston, C. (2010) Drama Games: For Those Who Like to Say No Nick Hern Books
Johnstone, K. (1994) Impro for Storytellers Faber and Faber
Oddey, A. (1996) Devising Theatre: A Practical and Theoretical Handbook Routledge
Poulter, C. (1987) Playing the Game Macmillan
Rawlins, G. and Rich, J. (1985) Look, Listen and Trust Nelson Thornes
Rudlin, J. (1994) Commedia Dell'Arte in the 20th Century: A Handbook Routledge
Spolin, V. (1973) Improvisation for the Theatre Pitman

Prison Theatre/Offender Related
Baim, C., Brookes, S. & Mountford, A. (2002) The Geese Theatre Handbook: Drama with Offenders and People at Risk Waterside Press
Balfour, M. (ed) (2004) Theatre in Prison Intellect Books
Bergman J., and Hewish, S. (2003) Challenging Experience: An Experiential Approach to the Treatment of Serious Offenders Wood ‘n’ Barnes
Cox, M. (ed) (1992) Shakespeare Comes to Broadmoor Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Escape Artists (2006). Barred Voices: Perspectives on Theatre in Prisons in the UK. Escape Artists. (
Goldson, B (2002) Vulnerable Inside: Children in Secure and Penal Settings The Children's Society
Hollin, C. (1989) Psychology and Crime: An Introduction to Criminological Psychology Routledge
James, E. (2003) A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook. Guardian Books
James, E. (2005) The Home Stretch: From Prison to Parole. Guardian Books
Johnson, H., Keen, S., & Pritchard, D. (2011) Unlocking Value: The Economic Benefit of the Arts in Criminal Justice New Philanthropy Capital
Johnston, C. & Hewish, S. (2010) Criminal Justice: An Artists Guide Arts Alliance
Lemos, G. (2011) Create-ability: the changing meaning of art and artistry Lemos and Crane
Leibmann, M. (ed) (1998) Art Approaches to Conflict Jessica Kingsley Publishers
McAvinchey, C (2011). Theatre and Prison Palgrave Macmillan
McLewin, A (2010) The Evidence Library Arts Alliance &
Owens, F. (2012) The Little Book of Prison: A Beginner’s Guide Waterside Press
Rohd, M (1998) Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue: the Hope is Vital Training Manual Heinemann/Reed Elsevier ,
Thompson, J (1999) Drama Workshops for Anger Management & Offending Behaviour Jessica Kingsley
Thompson, J. (ed) (1998) Practices and Perspectives in Prison Theatre Jessica Kingsley
Thompson, J. (2001) Making a break for it: Discourse and theatre in prisons

Subject specific skills

Working with community groups
Group collaboration
Reflection on practice

Transferable skills

Critical thinking
Problem solving
Active lifelong learning
Communication (verbal and written)
Teamwork and working effectively with others
Citizenship (local and global)
Ethical values
Inter-cultural learning and diversity awareness
Organisational awareness

Study time

Type Required
Other activity 108 hours (36%)
Private study 192 hours (64%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Class preparation

Other activity description

14 x 4 hour workshops
9 x 4 hour rehearsal supervision
Total: 92 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
Practical Examination 1 (locally held) 30%

Initial practical assessment - facilitation of a workshop with peers

Practical Examination 2 (locally held) 70%

Held in spring term. A performance and workshop realised in conjunction with a local prison.

Feedback on assessment

Departmental Feedback Sheet


This module is Core for:

  • Year 2 of UTHA-W422 Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies (with Intercalated Year)

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 2 of UTHA-QW34 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies
  • UTHA-W421 Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies
    • Year 2 of W421 Theatre and Performance Studies
    • Year 2 of W421 Theatre and Performance Studies