BA Music and Drama

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Actors' Lab: Cultures of Performance Training

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM21301
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


In this module students will investigate and practically explore approaches to performer training and the social, cultural and economic contexts that produces them. Engaging in weekly practical workshops, students will critically investigate a series of historical techniques that have been developed to train the performer, understanding their emergence in relation to social processes. Alongside developing practical, hands-on skills to support performance practice, students will have the opportunity to unpack, interrogate and critique canons of training, positioning their experiences in relation to their own sense of identity, culture and ethics. 


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Performance Practices 1 DRAM10101 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Performance Practices 2 DRAM10102 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Students must have taken DRAM10101 or DRAM10102 in year one. 


  • To introduce and explore key practices and cultures of acting and performer training. 
  • To critically examine the social, political and cultural contexts of performer training, discussing the relationship between training, industry and society. 
  • To engage in a rehearsal process resulting in the performance of an existing dramatic text
  • To develop a training praxis that responds to ethical, political and cultural dilemmas

Teaching and learning methods

Three hours workshops = 33 hrs

Viewings of recorded material/reading/research -  approx. 12 hours   

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand, adapt, and embody key performance training practices in relation to a selected text
  • Understand the social, cultural, economic, and historical contexts in which training practice emerges. 
  • Identify key debates, questions, and critiques within the process of performance training and understand in theory and practice significant discourses within the field.  

Intellectual skills

  • Outline and critique practical training processes in relation to social discourse.  
  • Evaluate and critically reflect on personal and group response to undertaking training techniques, exercises or to specific practitioners.  
  • Draw critical connections between training programmes and the creative industries more broadly.  

Practical skills

  • Key practical skills in preparation for performance in the areas of voice, body, improvisation and approaching text. 
  • Understand rehearsal and acting preparation techniques to prepare and perform a piece of dramatic text
  • Facilitate training exercises with a group of peers. 
  • Evaluate and critically reflect on embodied learning and performance craft 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • A practical toolkit of performance skills.  
  • Group collaboration and enhanced team working skills. 
  • Ability to facilitate, lead and deliver solo and group rehearsals.  
  • Evaluation and critical reflection on the experiences of the self and others.  
  • An understanding of how to plan practice that is safe, ethical, accessible, and takes into consideration the diverse needs of a range of participants. 

Employability skills

Group/team working
Ability to work independently and as part of a team, often as part of creative and critical projects that present unpredictable and challenging scenarios
Project management
Project management – our teaching environment demands that students plan, undertake, manage and evaluate projects independently and as part of teams
Oral communication
Advanced communication skills – verbal, written; prepared/rehearsed and ‘off the cuff’/improvise
Problem solving
Creative thinking – our teaching environment enables students to develop creative and critical approaches to problem-solving
Understanding of professional cultures/environments – our students are supported to develop professional approaches to timekeeping, peer support/review, self reflection/evaluation and dealing with sources of concern/complaint.

Assessment methods

Group presentation    40%

Performance of an existing text- as monologue, duologue or group performance   60%

Feedback methods

  1. Informal feedback through sharing and discussion throughout the course  
  2. Written formative feedback for the portfolio, workshop rationale and plan. 
  3. Aural feedback in response to demonstrations of workshop exercises

Recommended reading

Indicative reading:  

  • Evans, M. (2014). “Playing with history: personal accounts of the political and cultural self in actor training through movement.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 5 (2), pp. 144-156. 
  • Gee, E and Hargrave, M. (2011). “A proper actor? The politics of training for learning disabled actors.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 2 (1), pp. 34-53. 
  • McAllister-Viel, T. (2018). Training Actors' Voices: Towards an Intercultural/Interdisciplinary Approach. Oxon: Routledge. 
  • Mitra, R. (2022). “Unmaking Contact: Choreographic Touch at the Intersections of Race, Caste, and Gender.” Dance Research Journal, 53 (3), pp. 6-24. 
  • Peck, L (2021). Act as a Feminist: Towards a Critical Acting Pedagogy. Oxon: Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sarah Weston Unit coordinator

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