BA Drama and English Literature

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Solo Performance

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM21232
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


Solo performance is an exciting performance form that has been explored by many artists in a wide variety of locations and at different points in time. Artists and critics point to a renaissance of the form in contemporary performance, dating this from the rise of identity politics and the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. Equally one might think about traditional storytellers, music-hall and variety artists as well as experimental artists working in contemporary live art practices. This course focuses on a range of approaches to solo performance and the way that the form has been used from the late 1970s to the present day. It will explore how solo performers have created work which investigates the possibilities of using the form to tell traditional stories, to explore ideas of identity, to document contemporary issues and argue for rights, to give witness to marginalised voices, to speak out about inequalities and to develop new relationships between performer and audience. This is a practical module and, as well as investigating the work of a range of artists, students will have the opportunity to research, share and score their own work responding to and inspired by the methodologies and approaches studied.



  • To introduce students to a range of solo performance practices in contemporary performance.
  • To engage in a detailed consideration of the goals of solo performance and to critically evaluate how those goals are articulated and acted upon by a range of artists.
  • To consider the implications of solo performance for the performer/audience relationship.
  • To explore the solo performance genre by creating their own performance material in relation to the artists examined.



Knowledge and understanding

  • Articulate a range of impulses for contemporary solo performance and show an understanding of a range of practice in this field through examples of performance work and written reflection on the practitioners who produce it.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a range of possible solo performance styles, the impulses of the artists who produced them and the critical responses to this work.
  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of specific sub-genres in solo performance practice.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate a range of solo performance practices by articulating the impulses for this mode of performance in specific locations and historical moments.
  • Critically evaluate ideas about the performer/audience relationship and discuss the ethics of different approaches to solo performance.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the political, aesthetic and ethical implications of solo performance work.


Practical skills

  • Propose, develop and score evaluate an original piece of solo performance work inspired by their practical and intellectual explorations.
  • Where possible, contribute to the peer review of work by other students.
  • Discuss solo performance clearly and in detail, in the context of a range of examples and consider the implications of the choices made in creating solo performance.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Contribute effectively to discussion and debate with peers and tutors.
  • Undertake research in order to articulate, substantiate, evaluate and analyse their own ideas/argument.
  • Take steps towards developing the confidence to perform alone for a peer group.
  • Learn skills of giving and receiving feedback on practical performance work.


Employability skills

Group/team working
Ability to work independently and as part of a group to conceive, plan, undertake and evaluate original, well-developed responses to briefs (overseeing a creative process from inception through production, post-production and evaluation)
Enhanced skills in managing a group-work process ¿ leadership skills, ideas-sharing, giving and receiving feedback, taking initiative, negotiation, flexibility, compromise, collaboration, making contributions, reliability, time-keeping et cetera
Project management
An enhanced ability to use reflexivity and emotional intelligence when working in groups (maintaining balance between taking initiative/leading and developing the ideas of others, supporting and challenging, ability to empathise with multiple perspectives, ability to adapt to distinct contexts etc.)
Oral communication
Maintaining professional standards as regards self-presentation, including ability to perform in front of an audience with confidence and precision, and to effectively adapt performance to specific contexts

Assessment methods

Solo Peformance 60%
Viva 40%


Feedback methods

  1. Informal feedback through sharing and discussion throughout the course
  2. Written feedback  on performance score
  3. Aural feedback through viva

Recommended reading

Indicative reading, with more to be added:


Bonney, Jo (ed) Extreme Exposure. An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century, Theatre Communications Group, New York, 2000.

Deveare Smith, Anna, Twilight Los Angeles, Anchor Books: New York, 1994.

Govan, Emma, Helen Nicholson and Katie Normington, Making a Performance. Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices, Routledge: London and NY, 2007.

Heddon, Deirdre, Helen Ibal and Rachel Zerihan, ‘Come Closer: confessions of intimate spectators in one to one performance’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 22;1 (120-133), 2012.

Deirdre Heddon and Adrian Howells, ‘From Talking to Silence: A Confessional Journey’, PAJ, (33: 1), (1-12), 2011.

Hughes, Holly and David Roman (eds), O Homo Solo: the new queer performance, Grove Press: New York, 1998.

Patterson, Eddie, The Contemporary American Monologue. Performance and Politics, Bloomsbury Methuen, London, 2015.


Russell, Mark (ed) Out of Character. Rants, Raves and Monologues from today’s top performance artists, Bantam: New York, 1997.


Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alison Jeffers Unit coordinator

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