BA Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Contemporary European Theatres

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM30831
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course explores developments and innovations in contemporary European theatre and performance practice. Taking as its notional starting point the fall of the Berlin Wall, it explores the ways in which practitioners across Europe have worked within and against the structures of neoliberalism and late capitalism. Studying a range of key playwrights, directors, companies and choreographers, students will also engage with recent works of theatre theory and performance scholarship. Students will explore practitioners alongside critical ideas and texts that speak to both contemporary theatre and to issues which have preoccupied contemporary European philosophers (eg spectatorship, participation, community, borders, technology, and cultural capital). The emphasis will be on the processes of theatre-making and theatre watching: from here, we will branch out to think about the relationships between culture and politics, art and community, criticism and practice, economics and creativity in order to develop an understanding of theatre and its wider context.


Pre-requisite units

Any L1 Drama Study or Practical core option


Any L2 Drama Study core option - Practitioners in Context 1; Practitioners in Context 2; Screen, Culture and Society


Co-requisite units



 Free Choice : Please contact if you are interested in taking this module as a free choice.


·         To introduce students to the works of a range of challenging contemporary performance makers, and to equip them with strategies for watching and discussing their works.

·         To develop critical understanding of a set of key theatrical, cultural and philosophical debates (and the relationships between these debates).

·         To develop a critical framework for thinking about the ways in which contemporary performance is made.

To explore the relationships between the performing arts and the wider world.


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


Week 1: ‘we are Europe, also’: contexts, methods, frames

Week 2: On the Holocaust

Week 3: On democracy and representation

Week 4: On colonialism, postcolonialism and globalisation

Week 5: On borders, refugees and crisis


Week 7: On power and ruins

Week 8: On feminism and technology

Week 9: On visuality and bodies

Week 10: On the Cultural Commons and austerity

Week 11: On futures and children

Week 12: Assessments, Closing Conversations, Travelling onwards

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be taught via:

·         Three hour seminars which include:

o   mini-lectures,

o   seminar discussion,

o   small group discussion task

o   creative, written and research-oriented tasks

·         Theatre trips and conversations with practitioners as appropriate/whenever possible


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 familiarity with and depth of understanding of a range of artworks by contemporary theatre practitioners.
  •  Demonstrate an understanding of a range of the theatrical, social, cultural and political and philosophical contexts of the past thirty years.
  •  Explore critical, contextual and theoretical material and show an ability to interrogate the relationships between this material and primary/performance texts.
  • Talk confidently about theatre-making practices and be able to critically assess these practices both in terms of their processes and their performances.

Intellectual skills

  •  Develop sophisticated and coherent arguments and analyses and articulate these in both written and spoken work.
  •  Evaluate and critically reflect on a range of texts, performances, practices and concepts.
  • Synthesise and analyse a range of critical texts.
  • Negotiate and understand complex texts, performances and critical practices with confidence, nuance and analytical skill.

Practical skills

  • Work efficiently as a key member of a small group engaged in research, practical work, and presentation
  •  Demonstrate advanced skills of independent research and self-directed learning.
  •  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 advanced ability to self-manage learning – to ask questions independently, identify relevant research material, take initiative, make decisions, and develop independent and sustained responses to complex problems
  • demonstrate an advanced ability to develop sustained arguments and present these effectively in written and oral form

Employability skills

Analytical skills
¿ Advanced critical thinking, problem-solving and planning skills ¿ in particular, in relation to live performance analysis
Group/team working
¿ Working productively as part of a group and independently in learning environments that present complex and unpredictable challenges
¿ Advanced ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility ¿ in particular, in relation to independent research (both as an individual and as part of a group project)
¿ Ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to difference audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Group project presentation – independent research into materials (eg companies/practitioners/practices/themes /critical questions) related to, but not directly studied – elsewhere on the course (including transcript and bibliography)


20-30 minutes (depending on group size)




3500-4000 words


Individual and small group research tasks





Feedback methods

 Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Group presentation - written


Essay - written


Individual and small group research tasks – in-class feedback and peer discussion



Recommended reading

Delgado, Maria, and Dan Rebellato. Contemporary European Theatre Directors. (London: Routledge, 2010)

Fischer-Lichte, Erica. The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics. (London: Routledge, 2008)

Fuchs, Elinor. The Death of Character. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996)

Gluhovic, Milija. Performing European Memories: Trauma, Ethics, Politics (London: Palgrave, 2013), 1-29.

Kelleher, Joe and Nick Ridout, eds. Contemporary Theatres in Europe: A Critical Companion. (London: Routledge, 2006).

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Postdramatic Theatre. (London: Routledge, 2006)

Radosavljevi¿, Duška, Theatre-Making: Interplay Between Text and Performance in the 21st Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013)

Zaroulia, Marilena, and Philip Hager, eds. Performances of Capitalism, Crises and Resistence: Inside/Outside Europe (London: Palgrave, 2015)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rachel Clements Unit coordinator

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