BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Post-Thatcher British Theatre: New Writing Since 1992

Unit code DRAM20102
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


On this unit, students encounter a cross-section of British playwriting from the early 1990s to the present day. We focus on dramaturgical innovations and the challenges these pose for performers/performance, and the key trends and themes of the period. Students work both critically and creatively to explore and understand the approaches to form, content, character and structure of a range of plays and playwrights. Throughout, we work to situate writers and their works in wider social, political, theatrical, cultural and artistic contexts. Students will explore the ways in which contemporary playwrights have engaged with the world around them, paying particular attention to the relationship between content, form and politics, in order to develop an understanding of the possibilities and potential meanings of these plays in and for performance.



Pre-requisite units

Any L1 Drama Study module


Co-requisite units

Any L2 Core Drama module – Practitioners in Context 1; Practitioners in Context 2




  • To engage with a wide range of contemporary playwriting from the early 1990s to the present day, paying close attention, in particular, to issues of form and dramaturgy, content and context.
  • To develop students’ abilities to work both independently and as groups, both creatively and critically, and to facilitate the development of skills in research and research presentation.
  • To explore the relationship between text and theatrical production in diverse examples of contemporary dramatic writing.
  • To raise questions about the relationship between theatre and the wider world.


Indicative syllabus (representative only – all of the topics listed below may not be covered every year):


Week 1: Post-Thatcher Theatre – Contexts and Beginnings

Anthony Neilson, Penetrator (Traverse Theatre, 1993)

Philip Ridley, Ghost from a Perfect Place (Hampstead Theatre, 1994)

Week 2: ‘In-Yer-Face Theatre’

Sarah Kane, Blasted (Royal Court, 1995)

Mark Ravenhill, Shopping and Fucking (Royal Court, 1996)

Week 3: Documentary Theatre

Richard Norton-Taylor, ed. The Colour of Justice (Tricycle Theatre, 1999)

Gregory Burke, Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland, 2006)

Week 4: Postdramatic Theatre

Martin Crimp, Attempts on Her Life (Royal Court, 1997)

Tim Crouch, The Author (Royal Court, 2009)

Week 5: Mental Health

Joe Penhall, Blue/Orange (National Theatre, 2000)

Anthony Neilson, The Wonderful World of Dissocia (Royal Lyceum Theatre, EIF, 2004)

Week 6: Globalization

David Greig, San Diego (Royal Lyceum, 2003)

debbie tucker green, stoning mary (Royal Court, 2005)

Week 7: Money and Economics

Dennis Kelly, Love and Money (Royal Exchange Theatre, 2006)

Lucy Prebble, Enron (Minerva Theatre, 2009)

Week 8: The ‘War on Terror’

Simon Stephens, Pornography (Deutschen Schauspielhauses, Hamburg, 2007)

Mark Ravenhill, Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (various, 2008)

Week 9: Class and Nation

Jez Butterworth, Jerusalem (Royal Court, 2009)

Roy Williams, Days of Significance (RSC, 2007)

Week 10: History and Justice

Caryl Churchill, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You and Seven Jewish Children (Royal Court, 2006/2010)

debbie tucker green, truth and reconciliation (Royal Court, 2011)

Week 12: New Directions?

Sample suggestions from 2016-17: ‘Nasty Women’:

Phoebe Waller-Bride’s Fleabag

Kate Tempest, Wasted

RashDash, Two Man Show

Teaching and learning methods

This course will be taught via:


Three hour seminar session weekly (which will include workshop/practical components, seminar discussion in large and small groups, student-led work and occasional mini-lectures)

Additional theatre trips and screenings as appropriate


The course unit will be complemented by a Blackboard site that conforms to minimum requirements including a course handbook, weekly course breakdown, provision of reading material, reading lists. Supplementary material from workshops will be added as appropriate. The blackboard site will be prepared and available to students at least one week prior to the beginning of the first teaching week each semester.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate detailed understanding of a range of key works by contemporary British playwrights.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural and political contexts of from the early 1990s to today.
  • Explore a range of critical, contextual and theoretical material and show an ability to interrogate the relationships between this material and primary texts.

Intellectual skills

  • Develop coherent arguments and analyses and articulate these in both written and spoken work.
  • Reflect critically on and evaluate a range of texts and performances.
  • Express themselves effectively and use creative methods to explore critical ideas
  • Synthesise and analyse a range of critical texts.

Practical skills

  • Work efficiently as a key member of a small group engaged in research, practical work, and presentation.
  • Communicate research material both verbally and in writing.
  • Use creative work and techniques to explore and convey critical ideas.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with others about intellectually demanding concepts, topics, materials
  • demonstrate an ability to draw with accuracy, focus, detail and precision on complex materials in independent and group work
  • demonstrate an ability to effectively present – through discussion and in writing – complex topics, drawing convincingly on oral, written and visual media as appropriate to the topic

Employability skills

Employability skills that students can expect to gain from successful completion of this module include: ¿ a good level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills ¿ an ability to develop detailed, planned and multi-layered approaches to tasks ¿ an ability to work productively as part of a group and independently in learning environments that present complex challenges ¿ an enhanced ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to different audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods


Essay - written


Presentation – oral and written


Consultation on presentation and essay plan - oral



Recommended reading

Adiseshiah, Siân, and Louise Lepage, eds. Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now. London Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

DMonté, Rebecca, and Graham Saunders, ed. Cool Britannia? British Political Drama in the 1990s. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008.

Forsyth, Alison, and Chris Megson, ed. Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present. London: Palgrave, 2009.

Rebellato, Dan, ed.  Modern British Playwriting: 2000-2009 Voices, Documents, New Interpretations. London: Methuen, 2013.

---. Theatre & Globalization. Theatre&. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009.

Sierz, Aleks. In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today. London: Faber and Faber, 2001.

---. Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations. London: Methuen, 2012.

---. Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today. Methuen: London, 2011.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rachel Clements Unit coordinator

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