Evaluate theatre as an artistic and cultural medium
This is a two-hour video covering a wide range of theatre topics including audience, musicals, theatre, television, film, public affairs, play structure, theatre organisation, director, producer, visual design and also includes interviews with practitioners from these areas. It is recommended as a good primer to introduce the subject of theatre in its broadest sense, as a cultural medium.
“The 101: Introduction to Theatre and Drama Arts”.
This is a very good introduction to the role of theatre in society, as it interrogates what happens to politics when it takes the form of theatre, and asks how has theatre both exploited and undermined politics both in society and on the stage? Theatre and Politics explores the complex relationship between theatre and society, and some of the assumptions that often arise when they are brought together. Challenging ideas about 'entertainment' and 'communication', the book draws on a broad range of key writing from Plato to Rancière, and theatrical examples from Shakespeare and his adaptors through Peter Handke to Debbie Tucker Green.
Kelleher, Prof. Joe. Theatre and Politics, Basingstoke, U.K: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
This book is an authoritative theatre history, celebrating the stage's greatest achievements over a period of 4,500 years, from festival performances in ancient Egypt to international, multicultural drama in the late twentieth century, and from Sophocles and Aristophanes to George Gershwin and Harold Pinter. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Theatre guides readers through the full spectrum of dramatic representation as well as giving due weight to how the scene backstage evolved through the centuries--the role of musicians, light, sound, and equipment, and the art of set design-and to the crucial role of the audience and critics.
Brown, John Russell, Ed. The Oxford Illustrated History Of Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995
This is a full text compilation of 10 mystery plays that includes Dial M for Murder, Sleuth, Arsenic and Old Lace and Dracula. It incorporates prefaces and author biographies, but does not give history or context to the overall genre, except in a passing sense while discussing the oeuvres of each author, but it is a very useful book to allow access to scripts and will engender cross-comparison with other texts.
Systems of Rehearsal is a systematic appraisal of the three principal paradigms in which virtually all theatre work is conducted today - those developed by Stanislavsky, Brecht and Grotowski. The author compares each system of the work of the contemporary director who, says Mitter, is the Great Imitator of each of them: Peter Brook. This results in a comprehensive introduction to modern theatre that will guide the student to a better understanding of the canon.
Richards, Stanley, Best Mystery and Suspense Plays of the Modern Theatre. New York: AVON, 1971.
Mitter, Shomit. . Systems of Rehearsal: Stanislavsky, Brecht, Grotowski, and Brook: Stanislavsky, Brecht, Grotowski and Peter Brook. London: Routledge, 1992
This is a complete compilation of scripts of each of the plays in the title, a good introduction to the Greek play as a genre. Included is a short historical account of early Greek theatre, from, circa 500 b.c. It is a useful source for script reading, analysis and cross-comparison with other genres.
This book gives a good historical account of forerunners to expressionism in the early twentieth century, leading to later developments in German and British epic theatre in the 1970s. Styan looks at early German, Russian, American and Irish expressionism culminating in the 1920s, and then epic theatre from Piscator to Brecht and other exponents in the 1970s. Many plays are given full exposition with analysis which helps the student to relate underlying thematic and formal principles within the genre. It is well illustrated with photographs and the writing is clear, eloquent and simple.
Sommerstein, Alan.H. Translation and Introduction. Aristophanes “The Acharnians”, “The Clouds”, “Lysistrata”. London: Penguin, 1973.
This book contains full texts of the plays Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair by seventeenth-century English playwright Ben Jonson. The introduction gives a good historical account of the genre, as well as analytical and comparative assessment with other playwrights such as Shakespeare. It would make a very good source of early modern English theatre, and would be useful for genre and comparative purposes.
Using the idea of a culture's shared 'language of gesture', from ancient Greece to contemporary stage and film Nicholas Drumgoogle explores the growth, evolution and impact gesture and style have had on our engagement with and understanding of theatre.
Jamieson, Michael. Ed. Three Comedies, Ben Jonson. London: Penguin, 1966.
Drumgoogle, Nicholas. Performance, Style and Gesture in Western Theatre: A History of Performing Styles and Gesture in Western Theatre. London: Oberon Books Ltd., 2007.
Discuss the relationship between the actor, play and audience
This record examines the role of actor in relation to audience in a series of scenes from plays through the ages, including Sophocles, Ibsen, Chekov and Shakespeare.
This book will help the student to look at the physical space in which a theatre production takes place. Understanding the theatre space on both the practical and theoretical level is becoming increasingly important to people working in drama, in whatever capacity. Theatre architecture is one of the most vital ingredients of the theatrical experience and one of the least discussed or understood. In Architecture, Actor and Audience Mackintosh explores how the design of a theatre can make to the theatrical experience, and examines the failings of many modern theatres which despite vigorous defence from the architectural establishment remain unpopular with both audiences and theatre people.
Yurka, Blanche. The Actor and the Audience. From the album “Dear Audience,” Folkways Records, 1960.
YouTube audio file
Mackintosh, Iain. Architecture, Actor and Audience (Theatre Concepts). London & New York: Routledge, 1993.
Explore how performers, designers, directors and writers
communicate meaning to an audience
Online research article
The question of how the actor carries meaning towards an audience is the central theme of this article. Bhattacharyya looks at the role and importance of communication as an act of transmission of ideas between individuals through the use of significant symbols: to make another person or a group of person aware of its ideas on a particular subject. Thus, communication essentially refers to the process of establishing commonness among the participants involved in the act of communication through the act of information sharing, such as information, command and persuasion.
Bhattacharyya, Kapil Kumar. “Interpreting Theatre as a Communication Medium”
Demonstrate an ability to critically analyse a script or text
This book is a very good primer that looks initially at the components of the English language: as used in poetry, literature and drama. It gives detailed, preparatory instructions in note-taking, interpretation, revision and exam techniques that are very student-focused. This manual is essential reading for the student of theatre insofar as it includes discussion on language conventions, scene construction, character construction and plot development. Moreover, it has a section where styles such as comedy, tragedy, abstract and imaginative theatre are compared and contrasted; along with sub-plots, costume, scenery, music and spectacle. Actor issues such as age, size, voice and physicality are also addressed in a comprehensive manner, and the book is illustrated. This is essential reading.
Gill, Richard. Mastering English Literature: Macmillan Master Series. Hampshire and London: Macmillan, 1985.
Demonstrate an ability to critically analyse the aesthetics of a
piece of theatre
This is a seminal and up-to-date book where the idea of 'the aesthetic' is relevant to performance in social settings. Gareth White's introductory essay reviews the field, and proposes an interdisciplinary approach that addresses the complexities of art and the aesthetic as everyday behaviours and responses. The second part of the book comprises essays from leading experts and new voices in the practice and theory of applied performance, where fresh thinking is introduced in response to perennial problems.
This book is very useful as a good source of background and criticism to twelve Irish plays (including Riders to the Sea, The Playboy of the Western World, Juno and the Paycock and Krapp’s Last Tape). Scripts are included in the book making it invaluable for the putting-on of student productions, along with some seminal critical essays by Irish luminaries, such as Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge and Bernard Shaw. This is a very good, thorough and helpful handbook and would make essential reading for all students of Irish drama and cultural criticism.
What is the critic's role - Objective judge? Consumer guide? Provocateur? In Theatre Criticism, first published in 1992, Irving Wardle sets out to define the credentials and aims of this profession. Tracing its origins to Dryden and the Grub Street writers of Georgian London, Wardle examines prejudices, questions and practices of modern reviewing, drawing on three decades' worth of his own experience.
Articulate own personal theatrical preferences and influences
Using theatre listing resources (URLs listed), and taking note of essay writing tips on open.edu online course (given) attend three plays, and using template from course materials (history, forms, genres, criticism etc.) write an essay, or give class presentation on personal influences and preferences.
Online sources for essay writing, and theatre listings to plan activity.
Record experiences and learning whilst engaging with the
Keep a weekly journal of classwork, assignments and outings, with the purpose of incorporating all learning and development throughout the year. In this journal, let the focus be on personal insights, difficulties, achievements and reflection.
“Grammarly Blog” online source for tips on journal writing.