BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Writing For Performance

Unit code DRAM30211
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

During this module, you will draft – and redraft – an original, full length, play script. This process will be supported by your tutor, fellow students and workshops with playwrights and theatre professionals, including sessions with the Royal Exchange and visits to see plays there during the semester. In addition to studying the key elements of a play in depth, students will workshop their own developing plays, and also explore writing for radio. These workshops will provide a coherent toolbox of structures and approaches to writing for theatre, including sessions on dramatic action, character, story, dialogue. They will include a range of writing, reading and discussion activities designed to support students in the writing of their own plays for the course. As well as developing students’ individual writing voices, the course facilitates the development of students’ analytical and dramaturgical understanding and their ability to provide peer feedback and critical support.

Pre/co-requisites

Available on which programme(s)?

Level 3 Drama, Drama and Screen, Drama and English, Music and Drama

Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)? No
Pre-requisite units

Any Level 1 Drama Study or Practical core option

 

Any Level 2 Drama Study core option - Practitioners in Context 1; Practitioners in Context 2; Screen, Culture and Society

 

At least one 20 credit Level 2 Drama practical course

 

Note: The module is suitable both for those who have taken the 2nd Year PLAYMAKING option, and for those who haven’t.
Co-requisite units

Drama Dissertation/Research Essay

 

Aims

  • To develop the students’ creative writing by facilitating and supporting the writing of a full length, original play script.
  • To develop students’ ability to evaluate and critically appraise their own – and others’ - creative work
  • To introduce students to a range of industry professionals, working in different forms of drama and theatre-making, in order to facilitate an understanding of the practicalities and realities of writing drama.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

Syllabus

Indicative outline/description (the precise schedule will change each year, dependent upon visiting professionals and theatre programmes):

 

This module consists of workshops and seminars through which students develop their own dramatic writing and their ability to analyse their own and others' work.  These workshops will provide a coherent toolbox of structures and approaches to writing for theatre, including sessions on dramatic action, character, story, dialogue. They will include a range of writing, reading and discussion activities designed to support students in the writing of their own plays for the course.

 

As well as regular sessions with the course tutor, and essay-writing sessions with the course’s academic tutor, there will be workshops with a visiting professional writers and theatre makers which will allow students to encounter and learn from/with a range of different practitioners and approaches to dramatic writing.

 

In the second half of the course, the workshops will include un-assessed rehearsed readings of extracts of each student’s play in progress. This will facilitate the development and redrafting process, and provide opportunities for peer learning and feedback. Students will also have individual tutorials focused on the development of their play and writing voice.

 

Alongside the workshops, theatre visits are an important part of the course and a number of performances will be booked for compulsory viewing (dependent on programming and feasibility). Discussion of these performances will be integral to both workshops and students’ written reflections.

Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught via weekly workshops focused on completion of writing tasks, discussion of critical readings, and giving and receiving feedback on writing, and rehearsed readings. The module will include visits to literary departments of local theatres, workshops with visiting professionals who write and viewings of performances of new writing. As well as intensive support from teaching staff (both for the group and as part of individual tutorials), peer support and feedback is an integral part of the course, as students all workshop their writing with each other and learn from one another’s process and suggestions.

 

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 a deep, engaged and critically aware understanding of a variety of dramaturgical forms, features and possibilities in both practice (their creative writing) and theory (through critical reflection
  • Understand and critically reflect on a range of professional writing practices across several contemporary dramatic media
  • Articulate an enhanced understanding of what makes a script for theatre, and what makes a script for radio, and worked creatively across both forms.
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated critical understanding of their own creative process

Intellectual skills

  • Evaluate and critically reflect on the craft of the playwright and the effects of particular writing decisions on the overall shape and impact of a piece of drama, articulating this through their own writing (both creative and critical)
  • Demonstrate an ability to not only critically appraise but also develop, shape and rework their own creative writing in order to hone its dramatic form, structure and character work.
  • Explain, articulate and evaluate convergences and differences in writing practices through a theoretically, professionally and practically informed framework.

Practical skills

  • Write, redraft, develop their own pieces of creative writing
  • Interpret, apply, and work effectively with a range of feedback and responses (from tutors, peers, and themselves) to their creative work, and discuss this process with clarity and critical rigour.
  • Work creatively to deadlines and with specific tasks, paying close attention to details of brief, audience and form.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Advanced interpersonal communication and team-working skills
  • Critical thinking skills and creative practice skills (problem-solving, thinking innovatively, drawing on creative approaches of others, evaluating arguments, giving and receiving feedback, time-keeping)
  • Using effective leadership, group-work, and creative/dramaturgical skills to solve complex problems
  • Performing with confidence and precision for specific audiences/contexts, making use of diverse creative approaches and media

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Ability to develop informed critique of professional practice (own and others), drawing on understanding of high quality standards
Group/team working
Advanced skills in group-work, independent creative writing, reflexivity, planning and project management ¿ Advanced skills in group-work, independent creative writing, reflexivity, planning and project management
Innovation/creativity
Development of a professional identity and skills/knowledge base to inform further professional practice, training and learning
Project management
Ability to work independently to conceive, plan, undertake and evaluate original, well-developed creative projects that involve complex and unpredictable scenarios
Other
Ability to develop informed critique of professional practice (own and others), drawing on understanding of high quality standards

Assessment methods

Assessment Task Formative or Summative Length Weighting within Unit (if summative)
Play (full length) Summative 75-90 pages 50%
Scene for Radio Summative 10-12 pages 10%
Reflective Essay Summative 3000-3500 words 40%
Portfolio of writing (including treatment and script as story) Formative Various Not Applicable

 

Feedback methods

Feedback Method Formative or Summative
Play-written Summative
Radio scene- written Summative
Reflective essay- written Summative
Portfolio of writing – verbal feedback throughout the process, via individual tutorials, and in-class workshops (from both tutor and peers) Formative

 

Recommended reading

Ayckbourn, A (2004) The Crafty Art of Playmaking London: Faber & Faber

Caulfield, A (2009) Writing for Radio: A Practical Guide, Ramsbury: Crowood Press

Edgar, D (2009) How Plays Work, London: Nick Hern Books

Fountain, T (2007) So You Want To Be A Playwright? London: Nick Hern Books

Gooch, S (2001) Writing A Play: Third Edition, London: A&C Black

Spencer, S (2002) The Playwright’s Guidebook, London: Faber and Faber

Unwin, S (2011) The Well Read Play, London: Oberon Books

Waters, S (2010) The Secret Life of Plays, London: Nick Hern Books

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 110
Independent study hours
Independent study 290

Additional notes

Independent Study Hours 

  • Students are expected to prepare for weekly classes- including reading and extra-curricular writing and redrafting
  • Assessment preparation hours

 

Scheduled Activity Hours

  • Weekly workshops – 1.5 days
  • Evening theatre trips
  • Dedicated consultation hours at formative feedback points

 

 

  

 

 

 

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