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Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, we will be prioritising face to face teaching as part of a blended learning approach that builds on the lessons learned over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic. Teaching will vary between online and on-campus delivery through the year, and you should read guidance from the academic department for details of how this will work for a particular module. You can find out more about the University’s overall response to Coronavirus at: https://warwick.ac.uk/coronavirus.

TH219-15 Writing for Theatre and Performance

Department
SCAPVC - Theatre and Performance Studies
Level
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Silvija Jestrovic
Credit value
15
Module duration
10 weeks
Assessment
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

N/A

Module aims

The goal of this module is to introduce students to different dramaturgical approaches and creative processes embodied in a range of textual forms–from traditional dramatic writing to performance scenarios. The main purposes of the module are to enable students to develop their practical and creative skills in playwriting and also their critical skills in exploring the strategies and processes involved in their own work and that of notable practitioners.

Through a combination of writing workshops and critical seminars, students will be exposed both to traditional dramaturgical thinking rooted in a cause and effect logic and to nonlinear writing based on principles of montage, association and intuition.
Constituent elements of the dramatic text such as action, character, dialogue, space and ways in which they function within different dramatic structures will be explored simultaneously with more experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to playwriting rooted in visual art and popular culture.

The module aims to expose students to different techniques and strategies of the playwriting craft, while at the same time encouraging them to toy with “dramaturgical rules” in search for their individual voices as writers.

The module will assist students in:

  1. producing a playwriting portfolio, that will include both short exercise pieces and the final project–a fully developed play or performance scenario;

  2. examining critical concepts and practice in playwriting and performance writing;

  3. understanding through practice and discussion the specific aspects involved in the creative process of writing for stage;

  4. conceptualising the student’s own practice as playwrights in relation to other playwrights’ works and creative approaches

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.

Spring Term

Week 1 Why Writing Plays
Week 2 Conjuring up the Character
Week 3 Story and Plot
Week 4 Dialogue
Week 5 Dramatic Structure and its Variations
Week 5 Time/Space; Action/ Setting
Week 6 Reading week
Weeks 7-10 Play development workshops

Learning outcomes

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

  • By the end of this module students will be able to understand the specific nature of writing for theatre and performance and to demonstrate a practical and critical knowledge of playwriting and performance writing in terms of subject and medium, selection of material, dramaturgical techniques and strategies, genre and form, constituent aspects of dramatic text including structure, action, character, dialogue, and space, as well as knowledge of representative examples by notable playwrights.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to demonstrate critical and creative skills in the reading, imitation and generation of dramatic texts and performance scenarios.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to articulate knowledge, understanding and appreciation of relevant dramatic and performance work.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to explain generic and formal dramaturgical conventions.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to show skill in the practice of writing for stage; offer critical feedback of each others work.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to writing skills and the ability to apply these in appropriate forms.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of playwriting and performance writing.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to capacity for independent thought and judgment.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to the capacity to adapt and transfer the creative and critical skills involved in writing to a variety of working environments.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives.
  • By the end of the module the student should be able to have time-management and organisational skills.
Indicative reading list

Indicative Bibliography:
Brecht, Bertolt Mother Courage. (Methuen Drama, 1995)
C. Churchill. Top Girls (Drama Online)
Fornes, Maria Irene. Fefu and Her Friends. (PAJ, 1996)
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. (Cambridge UP, 1995)
Maraini, Dacia. Only Prostitutes Marry in May: Four Plays. (Guernica 1994)
Müller, Heiner. Hamletmachine (PAJ, 1984)
H. Pinter. Betrayal (Drama online)
Schnitzler, Arthur. La Ronde (Smith and Kraus, 1999)
S. Stevens, Pornography (Drama online)
Deeney, John ed. Writing Live. (Arts Board/ Baring Foundation, 1998)
Dromgoole, Dominic. The Full Room: An A-Z of Contemporary Playwriting. (Methuen, 2000)
Edgar, David. State of Play: Playwrights on Playwriting. (Faber, 1999)
Pfister, Manfred. The Theory and Analysis of Drama. (Cambridge UP, 1988)

Research element

Dramaturgical research related to the student’s choice of material to develop into a play

International

Includes an international selection of material through which to explore the art and craft of playwriting

Subject specific skills

By the end of this module students will be able to: understand the specific nature of writing for theatre and performance and to demonstrate a practical and critical knowledge of playwriting and performance writing in terms of subject and medium, selection of material, dramaturgical techniques and strategies, genre and form, constituent aspects of dramatic text including structure, action, character, dialogue, and space, as well as knowledge of representative examples by notable playwrights/ performance writers.

Transferable skills

These skills are transferable to other forms of creative practices (e.g. devising, solo performance) as well as for writing in other media and formats (script writing, writing for digital media, gaming, applied drama)

Study time

Type Required
Seminars 9 sessions of 3 hours (18%)
Project supervision 2 sessions of 30 minutes (1%)
Online learning (scheduled sessions) 3 sessions of 1 hour (2%)
Other activity 9 hours (6%)
Private study 50 hours (33%)
Assessment 60 hours (40%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

The students will need to dedicate time to read and analyse assigned play-texts and also to develop , write and rewrite their own scripts

Other activity description

Viewings/ theatre visits

Costs

No further costs have been identified for this module.

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

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Portfolio 40% 20 hours

Portfolio of short scripts developed through the Fall term

Play 60% 40 hours

Creation of a Play

Feedback on assessment

Use of standard departmental feedback form for assessment as well as a 15 minute individual tutorial session with students to discuss feedback
Oral feedback will be available on individual exam performance.

Courses

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