This module provides students with a grounding in the development of the Western Theatre, and approaches to studying and analysing theatre movements and events in their specific cultural contexts. It includes a survey of Western Theatre practice from Ancient Greece to the present day, and an introduction to key concepts in Interculturalism (Patrice Pavis) and Theatre Anthropology (Eugenio Barba).

Students will deepen their knowledge of three areas of work on the module through essays, prepared in the Autumn and Spring terms, and a research project presented at the end of the Summer term.

Module Outline

1. Ancient Greek and Roman Theatres
An examination of the rise and development of the theatre in the context of religious, social and political life in Ancient Greece; the development of the Ancient Roman theatre from Greek practices.

2. Medieval Religious Theatre
An examination of British and Continental theatres focussing on the influence of the Church, for example the Miracle Plays, the Mystery Plays, and early Allegorical works. This unit also introduces the approach of Eugenio Barba (Theatre Anthropology) as a way of describing and understanding the theatre event.

3. Commedia dell'Arte
A study of the key features and the development of the Commedia tradition.

4. Renaissance Theatre: Playhouses
A study of key practitioners (e.g. Shakespeare, Molière, Calderon de la Barca, Corneille, Lope de Vega), in the period 1570 - 1700, focussing on the development of dedicated public and private theatre-spaces in England, France, and Spain, and the opera-houses of Italy.

5. 18th- and 19th-Century European Theatres: Manners and Models
A study of the developing theatres of England, France, Italy, and Germany which catered to polite society and a cultural elite. Includes a study of the development of Opera and Ballet, of the Well-Made Play, and of the rapidly changing relationship between performance space, playwright, and spectator.

6. 18th- and 19th-Century European Theatres: Popular Forms
A study of the broad range of performance forms accessible to audiences of working people in the period, with an emphasis on travelling shows, puppetry, circus, Music Hall and Vaudeville. This unit also introduces Interculturalism (with specific reference to Pavis) and its applicability to the movement and adaptation of practices and ideas between different cultural groups in a society.

7. Realism
An examination of the blossoming of Theatrical Realism in the late 19th Century, with particular attention to Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw, and Strindberg; and the returns to Realism in theatre practice throughout the 20th Century (e.g. John Osborne, Arthur Miller, Langston Hughes).

8. Avant-Garde theatres of the 20th Century
A study of key practitioners working outside Realist traditions, for example, Artaud, Cocteau, Wedekind, Kaiser, Pirandello, Beckett, Ionesco, Weiss, etc.

9. Post-war Theatre 1: the Director
An examination of key directors from the period 1950 - present (e.g. Bertolt Brecht, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine, Jerzy Grotowski, Jacques Le Coq, Peter Hall, Peter Sellars, etc) to understand the role of the director in shaping the contemporary theatre.

10. Post-war Theatre 2: the Performer
An examination of key performers and performance-led companies from the period 1950 - present (e.g. Olivier and Barrault, Complicite, DV8 Physical Theatre, Joint Stock, Pina Bausch, etc) to understand the role of the performer in shaping the contemporary theatre.

Module Aims
To develop a knowledge of the history of the Western Theatre
To introduce anthropological and intercultural approaches to understanding theatre and its relationship to its wider context
To identify patterns of development and divergence across geographical and cultural boundaries, and over time

Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to demonstrate:
Knowledge and understanding of key movements and practices in Western Theatre history
Knowledge and understanding of the roles of communities and theatre professionals in determining and influencing the development of theatre forms
Ability to conduct factual research into historical movements in the theatre
Ability to construct and present a clear argument, verbally and in writing, relevant to the module content