DRAM20180 20thCentury AvantGarde Theatre

Academic Year 2019/2020

Avant-garde theatre and performance of the twentieth century are sites of extraordinary diverse, innovative and often radial experimentation. In a century ravaged by vast political upheaval, theatre and performance increasingly stimulated debate about social and political power relations and offered a location where questions of identity were rehearsed and performed. This module introduces students to avant-garde theatre makers and performance artists of the twentieth century whose interrogation of the function and possibilities of performance influenced many artists working in theatre and performance today.
Through case studies that present the works in performance of a number of significant theatre artists and theorists across the 20th century, students are introduced to relevant theoretical discourses of performance analysis, and taught to examine and reflect critically on performances and productions of leading and influential practitioners, and consider in addition, how these performances operate within relevant artistic, aesthetic, and ideological contexts.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module students will be familiar with selected performances of leading avant-garde theatre makers and performance artists of the twentieth century.
Students will be able to:
Reflect on and analyse critically selected performances.
Discuss avant-garde performances with recourse to theoretical frameworks of space, audiences and bodies.
Contextualise avant-garde performances within relevant socio-cultural contexts and within key twentieth century performance practices.

Indicative Module Content:

1. Introduction to Module
2. Contexts for 20th Century Avant-Garde Theatre: Antonin Artaud's 'Theatre of Cruelty'
3. Bertholt Brecht's Theatre for Social Change
4. John Cage & Merce Cunningham: Neo Avant-Garde 'Chance Procedure'
5. Jerzy Grotowski: Performance as Religion
6. Happenings & Environmental Theatre
7. Eugenio Barba's Odin Teatret: Intercultural Theatre
8. Yvonne Rainer: Manifesto Theatre: 'No To Spectacle'
9. Robert Wilson: Theatre of Image
10. Societas Raffello Santos: Tragedies of the Future?
11. Course Review and Essay Preparation

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Small Group


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a lecture based module with Small Group Teaching support.
Each class introduces the work of a theatre practitioner and/or theorist giving contexts, and presenting theoretical analytical material. Viewing of practitioners/theorists works is introduced as relevant and as available. In the lecture, students are encouraged to ask questions and contribute. Time is given for Q&A.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
DRAM30170 - Revolutions in twentieth centu

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Mid-term Assignment
The mid-term is a critical report on a live performance of theatre attended by each student.
Week 7 n/a Graded No


Essay: End of Term Essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Contribution to Small Group Teaching classes and the submission in advance of class of up to 3 points on required reading /task for each SGT. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback is offered to students within two weeks of the submission of the mid-term Critical Report on Performance assignment. Essay preparation meetings with teaching staff is offered in weeks 11 or 12. Feedback is offered to Essay end of term submission post-assessment.

Name Role
Dr Emma Bennett Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Jen Harvie Subject Extern Examiner
Ms Clara Mallon Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.  
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Small Group Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 15:00 - 15:50
Small Group Offering 2 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 10:00 - 10:50
Small Group Offering 3 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 10:00 - 10:50
Small Group Offering 4 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 11:00 - 11:50
Small Group Offering 5 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 10:00 - 10:50
Small Group Offering 6 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 12:00 - 12:50