Accessibility statement

Political Theatre Performance Project - TFT00050I

« Back to module search

  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. David Barnett
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
    • See module specification for other years: 2024-25

Module summary

This module combines a theoretical and practical introduction to making political theatre with an implementation of these ideas in a short performance project. It will consider different ways of approaching 'the political' on the stage and offer students the opportunity to craft their own productions, usually on a specific political issue or theme.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module aims:

  • to consider potential meanings of 'the political' and how they may be articulated in performance; to analyse the choices made by playwrights and theatre practitioners in creating and staging political performances
  • to engage with the philosophical, ideological and aesthetic ideas behind political theatre
  • to research a political theme, provided by the module convenor, and to research, plan, write, rehearse and stage a new 30 minute political play from scratch
  • to learn and put into practice the creative methods and protocols of research, rehearsal and performance to a high standard working to a deadline
  • stage the finished work to an appropriate standard of performance, design, production and front-of-house, with all areas informed by the research conducted into the theme of the play, and always foregrounding the work's political theme/aims/form/content
  • to develop an ability to reflect on the work and to analyse some of the challenges of the process by contextualising ideas and experiences against published literature on the subject

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you will be expected:

  • to demonstrate an appreciation of a variety of approaches to political theatre from both an intellectual and a practical standpoint
  • to evidence in-depth knowledge of the interplay between theatre and politics in various theatrical and cultural contexts
  • to explore the political in play and performance to have developed an understanding of the ethical, political and practical challenges of making, producing and staging a political production
  • to have acquired informed knowledge about creative and production processes; to have staged a high-quality piece of political theatre on time and on budget which has been thoroughly researched and effectively staged.

Module content

You will spend the first four weeks of the module engaging with different theories, practices and examples of political theatre in order both to furnish you with important theatrical approaches and to allow you to experiment with them. You will apply performance ideas to different published plays in order to understand the possibilities of a political theatre. After this period, you will take this awareness of poltical theatre forward into your development of a 30-minute performance, based on a theme set earlier in the semester, drawing on the ideas introduced in the first phase of the module. In groups, you will produce, direct, act, research, write, design and stage manage the performances.


Task Length % of module mark
Reflective Essay
N/A 60
Live Performance : Group Performance
N/A 40

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

A formative essay task, based on the analysis of political elements in the set play and their performance, can be scheduled for midway through the module.

*For summative assessments, students will lose 3 marks per workshop, seminar or practical missed for this module.


Task Length % of module mark
Reflective Essay
N/A 60
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 40

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Aston, E. (1999). Feminist Theatre Practice: A Handbook. London: Routledge.

Barnett, D. (2014). Brecht in Practice. London: Bloomsbury.
Cantrell, T. (2013). Acting in Documentary Theatre. Houndsmills: Palgrave.

Case, S. (1990). Performing Feminisms. Maryland Johns Hopkins University Press.

Fischer-Lichte, E. (2005). Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre. London: Routledge.

Forsyth, A. and Megson, C. (eds.) (2009). Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Haedicke, S, et al. (2009). Political Performances: Theory and Practice. London: Rodopi.

Hammond, W.and Steward, D.(eds.) (2008). Verbatim, Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre. London: Oberon.

Heddon, D. (2007). Autobiography and Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jurs-Munby, K, et al. (2013). Postdramatic Theatre and the Political. London: Bloomsbury Methuen.

Kelleher, J. (2009). Theatre & Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Martin, C. (2012). Theatre of the Real. Houndsmills: Palgrave.

Patterson, M. (2006). Strategies of Political Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.