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Masters Degrees (Dramaturg)

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This highly successful programme offers specialist pathways in . Playwriting.  and . Dramaturgy. We concentrate on the process of writing for live performance, together with an ongoing evaluation of the work in process. Read more

This highly successful programme offers specialist pathways in Playwriting and Dramaturgy. We concentrate on the process of writing for live performance, together with an ongoing evaluation of the work in process. Through practice and reflection, we enable you to establish a distinctive, individual approach as both a writer and dramaturge. Projects include site-specific work, writing for a specific audience, verbatim theatre and interdisciplinary collaboration.

We support the development of texts for performance, alongside intellectual understanding of the diverse forms and contexts in which live performance can be made and the writer/dramaturge’s role in this. We examine texts from a wide range of periods and cultures. We engage with work that is innovative, or which challenges established notions of practice.

Opportunities to collaborate

Dramaturgs and playwrights study side by side, and examine creative and dramaturgical issues from various perspectives as writers, spectators and creative collaborators. There are opportunities to collaborate on an Interdisciplinary Project with MA Performance Makers and composers from the Department of Music. Final project texts, performed and directed by industry professionals, are presented at the Soho Theatre in London, attended by key industry representatives. Graduates are highly successful in obtaining commissions, dramaturgy posts and artistic directorships. Recent successes include:

  • Tena Štivičić (Three Winters National Theatre 2015)
  • Finn Kennedy (Artistic Director, Tamasha Theatre Company 2015)
  • Melissa Bubnic (Beached at Soho Theatre 2015)

All students receive Professional Orientation and support towards career development.

Modules & structure

Autumn term 

All students take the Writing Projects module: you will work on three diverse, short playwriting projects. Each addresses particular generic issues that relate to writing for live performance, and you will engage with the specific challenges and demands of differing circumstances of text development and production. These will vary from year to year, but they are likely to be selected from the following:

  • Theatre as Event – site-specific performance
  • Authenticity and Live Performance – verbatim theatre
  • Writing for Specific Audiences – children’s/young person’s theatre project
  • Creative Collaboration – multimedia collaboration with MA Performance Making and Studio Composition students from the Department of Music

You will also take the Dramaturgy module, which has two main elements: analysis of dramatic text (these will include classics and modern classics, as well as new plays); and analysis of live performance seen by the group (including some visual, environmental or non-text-based work). During the module you will assemble a portfolio of critical analyses and creative writing projects for assessment.

You will also take one contextual module alongside students from other Masters programmes, to be selected from a list of options that will vary from session to session.

Spring term 

You will develop your work on Dramaturgy with the term-long practical workshop module Creative Intervention in Text. This will examine: translation; adaptation of work from other media for live performance; and the re-writing and/or adaptation of extant plays; planning and curating seasons of performance work. You will assemble a portfolio of creative projects for assessment.

You also start work on your Final Project the personal Dissertation-equivalent project that will be the core of your work for the next six months). Weekly seminars and workshops will examine themes relevant to the range of projects chosen, and a first draft or outline will be produced. Each project will be the focus of individual tutorials, and then a class workshop led by a guest dramaturg, director or playwright as appropriate. You will then plan the next phase of the research or development of your project.

You also take another option from the list of contextual modules shared with students from other Masters programmes.

Summer term 

You will present the second draft of your project for another phase of tutorials and group workshops.

Playwriting projects will then be prepared for some form of public rehearsed reading or scratch performance, in extract form – with the writers involved in all aspects of the work.

Dramaturgy projects will be given practical support of an appropriate, equivalent kind. You will further develop your work, with tutorials and workshops and public presentation of work as appropriate, before writing and submitting the finished project.

Throughout the year, various seminars and workshops will examine diverse issues that affect writers today, and these will be led by visiting professionals as appropriate.

Assessment

We deploy a range of assessment approaches, each appropriate to the module taken. Students taking Writing Projects will submit three short playtexts for assessment. Dramaturgy is assessed by a portfolio of analytic reviews, and Creative Intervention in Text by a series of short creative writing projects and writing exercises. Each of the contextual option modules is assessed by a 4,000 word essay. Final Project leads to the production of a playtext (Playwriting), or a Dissertation or equivalent practical project (Dramaturgy). 

Careers

Numerous playwrights completing this programme receive high-level professional development opportunities, commissions, awards and full-scale productions of their work at major new writing centres in the UK, USA and in continental Europe. Many also work for at least part of the time in the fields of script development (for theatre and television), and in theatre publication.

Recent playwriting alumni include:

  • Ben Musgrave, whose Pretend You Have Big Buildings won the Bruntwood Prize (2006) and received a main house production at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
  • Allia V Oswald, whose Dirty Water won the Alfred Fagon Award (2007) and was given a rehearsed reading at the Royal Court Theatre
  • Adam Brace, whose play Stovepipe was a High Tide Festival winner (2008), and was staged recently by the National Theatre and published by Faber

In each of these cases the award-winning play was the writer’s Final Project from this programme.

Dramaturgy alumni work in professional literary management for mainstream and fringe building-based companies, as well as on freelance script development programmes in the UK and internationally. These include:

  • David Lane, who now has an extremely busy career as a freelance dramaturg, teacher and playwright
  • Francesca Malfrin, who is currently developing translation projects of Italian plays with a range of agencies, including the National Theatre Studio


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The MA/MFA Advanced Theatre Practice is a well-established course aimed at drawing together those wishing to play a leading role in tomorrow’s new performance and theatre-making worlds. Read more

ABOUT MA/MFA ADVANCED THEATRE PRACTICE

The MA/MFA Advanced Theatre Practice is a well-established course aimed at drawing together those wishing to play a leading role in tomorrow’s new performance and theatre-making worlds. As participants in this course, students will be part of a carefully selected group wanting to pool their resources and imagine the theatre of the future.

At the start, students are likely to bring their existing knowledge and practical experience, for example, as a Performer, Designer, Visual Artist, Writer, Director, Musician, Puppeteer, or Dramaturg. Alternatively, students may have another body of knowledge and experience that they are keen to hone with others in the creation of new performance work.

Whatever their existing skills, participants will have a passion for innovation and company work, and be ready to challenge and extend specialist practice through collaboration with others. Students on this course may be performers with good physical and vocal skills, for example, wishing to extend their ability to create new work through contact with puppetry and object theatre, writers and directors. Or a student may be a dramaturg, wishing to develop academic knowledge with others in the rehearsal room; or a designer with experience in
lighting, sound, scenography, or visual media for performance wishing to work with colleagues in non-hierarchical situations.

Participants may bring knowledge and experience from other academic disciplines, such as science and mathematics, film and animation, anthropology, choreography, or composition, which they are keen to develop in an experimental theatre-making environment, through improvisation and play. While practical and research interests arise from particular disciplines, engagement with this course will be as a participant in an innovative collaborative laboratory for practical experiment.

ASSESSMENT

Practice is assessed throughout the first three terms through continuous assessment of contribution to the rehearsal/development process
combined with essays reflecting on this work in the broader context of contemporary theatre practice. Peer assessment also forms a part of the assessment process. The course will prepare students for the sustained independent project, where they will take a performance work that they have made with colleagues to a documented encounter with a public audience during the summer.

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The Masters in Playwriting & Dramaturgy gives you a practical and theoretical engagement with the many forms of writing and production for theatre. Read more

The Masters in Playwriting & Dramaturgy gives you a practical and theoretical engagement with the many forms of writing and production for theatre. The programme is designed for those wishing to develop playwriting skills and knowledge of script development and support, opening the way to many theatre roles, including dramaturgy.

Why this programme

  • Theatre Studies at Glasgow is one of the longest-established theatre programmes in the UK. Our internationally renowned reputation for research, practice and teaching ensures an ideal environment for the pursuit of Masters study.
  • A significant part of the programme is delivered by professional writers and dramaturges, ensuring you engage with a wide variety of practices and that the programme content is relevant and up to date with the latest trends in theatre.
  • The programme includes the opportunity for playwrights to develop a major script, through workshops and staged readings with actors and directors.
  • In addition to masterclasses and workshops with external specialists, the work placement or internship builds on our long-term links and collaborations with an extensive number of theatre practitioners and arts organisations, including the National Theatre of Scotland, the Playwrights’ Studio, the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), The Tron and the Citizens’ Theatre.
  • The city of Glasgow provides an unbeatable location for the programme. Glasgow is home to a huge variety of theatres and nationally significant theatre organisations that produce and show a range from the experimental and risky to the traditional and repertory, from canonical and new writing to devised and physical performance.

Programme structure

Our programme is the only one in Scotland that combines playwriting with dramaturgy. You will undertake core practical playwriting courses and core dramaturgy courses before choosing to specialise in one pathway.

A significant part of the programme is delivered by professional writers and dramaturges. This programme also includes the opportunity for playwrights to develop a major script, through workshops and staged readings with actors and directors.

Core teaching is delivered in two semesters, followed by an independent desk- or practice-based project.

Our core courses introduce you to the foundations of both playwriting as a craft, and dramaturgy as a historical and contemporary practice.

In addition, core courses develop other skills useful to the role of the dramaturg and the practitioner, including critical reading, writing and reflection, independent research skills (such as archival and audience research), and presentation skills.

These courses will also prepare you to pursue doctoral study in the future.

Courses include

  • Playwriting
  • Dramaturgy: Histories and Practices
  • Reading and Interpreting Performance
  • Dramaturgical Work Placement
  • Research Methods
  • Independent Research Project.

Career prospects

The design of the Playwriting & Dramaturgy programme is intended to develop both the practical and critical skills of students. There is both subject-specific development (including knowledge of playwriting as a craft and dramaturgy as a role, working knowledge of the playwriting process, in-depth knowledge of plays and processes of textual and production analyses) alongside more generic skills development (including presentation skills – written and oral, a capacity for critical reflection, project management, team work, and independent research skills). 

The role of the dramaturg is becoming increasingly recognised within the theatre industries, as is the capacity of playwrights to apply their skills and knowledge to other tasks (including, for example, providing script development support for emerging writers). This programme aims to equip playwrights and potential dramaturges with knowledge of other writing roles in theatre. 

The critical components of this programme also provide a good foundation for students wishing to progress to doctoral study. 

Graduates of this programme have gone on to become commissioned playwrights, production dramaturges, theatre critics, literary advisors, doctoral students, theatre makers and academics.



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This highly distinctive MA course, run as a partnership between Birkbeck and RADA, brings together cutting-edge practice and scholarship in theatre and performance. Read more
This highly distinctive MA course, run as a partnership between Birkbeck and RADA, brings together cutting-edge practice and scholarship in theatre and performance. Join us and you will work with both Birkbeck's experts in theatre and performance studies and RADA's faculty and visiting theatre practitioners to experience both making and studying theatre. This course does not offer actor training, but will deepen your critical and practical understanding of theatre and performance practices in context and leads to a prestigious postgraduate qualification from the University of London.

What our students say

'Since finishing the MA course, I have worked on projects as a writer, director, and teacher - this is largely thanks to the way this course nurtures you as both artist and academic and helps you develop a diverse skill set.'

'Perhaps the best 2 years of my life.'

'The MA course allowed me to change my career path and gave me the skills and confidence to launch myself into an arts career.'

'The course helped to refine my approach as a theatre practitioner, while widening my scope for theatrical discourse and inspiration to create work. It encourages the intertwining of the creative and the academic, resulting in thought provoking and unique theatre. Most importantly, the course taught me to risk, to dare to create something new, to have an opinion and express it through my art.'

'Mature students can give at least as much and get as much out of this course as young people and taking the risk to do it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.'

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
Taking the dramatic text as a critical starting point, our course encompasses drama from the early modern period to the contemporary.
In the rehearsal room, you will create new theatre and performance work responding to set texts and themes. You will also engage with performance techniques to develop your skills as a playwright, director and dramaturg.
In academic lectures and seminars, you will encounter theoretical, historical, critical and philosophical writings. You will theorise live performance and write about the ways in which new performance work is informed by both contemporary concerns and older theatrical traditions and legacies.
In the final dissertation project, you will exercise your own creative voice as a director, dramaturg, playwright or scholar.
Student projects are tutored by a combination of faculty and visiting artists. In 2015-16, visiting artist tutors included A.C. Smith, David Slater, Karen Christopher, Peader Kirk and Rachel Mars.
We also offer informal, unassessed creative enhancement opportunities: RADA’s TheatreVision initiative, which brings together students from the MA Text and Performance and the MA Theatre Lab to explore writing for theatre; Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Theatre runs a postgraduate reading group and offers opportunities to show work in progress as part of the School of Arts summer festival Arts Week.
RADA and Birkbeck are just 3 minutes' walk apart so you will study in a campus-style environment. Our close proximity also allows us to draw on the rich range of resources available across both institutions, including: studio space; technical support for group and individual presentations; RADA’s excellent library of playtexts and theatre and performance literature; and Birkbeck’s world-class research resources in the arts and humanities.
The course incorporates visits to London theatre and both institutions are well placed for you to access the extraordinary array of theatre available in London.
The renowned British Library is also located nearby.

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Should translated literature be entirely faithful to the original text, or should the translation be creative in its attempt not to lose the poetry of the work? How can translation account for double entendre or other wordplay? Is it possible to translate experimental literature which ignores conventional grammar rules?. Read more
Should translated literature be entirely faithful to the original text, or should the translation be creative in its attempt not to lose the poetry of the work? How can translation account for double entendre or other wordplay? Is it possible to translate experimental literature which ignores conventional grammar rules?

Building on the internationally recognised expertise of both our Departments of Language and Linguistics, and our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, our MA Translation and Literature course will allow you to further specialise in literature and general translation. In the second term you will also learn techniques of professional literary translation. You develop your own personal translation skills, allowing you to translate a literary work accurately and creatively from one language to another for your dissertation.

Our course is offered with the combination of English and one of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. You can be a native or near-native speaker of any of these languages, as you learn to translate to and from both languages. You work with native speakers in developing your ability to move accurately and quickly between your chosen language and English.

Explore our hands-on, practical modules, including:
-Principles of Translation
-US and Caribbean literatures in dialogue
-Translation Portfolios
-Technologies of Translation

We are one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world, a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, placing us firmly within the top 10 departments in the UK (REF 2014)

Our Department of Language and Linguistics is ranked among the top 150 departments on the planet and our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies is ranked among the top 200 departments on the planet, according to the QS World [University] Rankings [2016].

If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.

Our expert staff

Our lecturers are skilled interpreters and translators, experienced in training students with the necessary skills for professional practice. We maintain excellent student-staff ratios with capped language-specific seminars.

Our lecturers come from around the world including France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Cuba, China, and the UK. They will share their expertise with you in the areas of professional translation.

Within our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, Professor Karin Littau specialises in book and film history, reception, adaptation and translation studies, and is especially interested in the effects of print, cinematograph, and computers on practices of reading, writing and translation. Dr Clare Finburgh has translated several plays from French into English, and worked as dramaturg for productions of British plays in France, and French works in the UK.

Specialist facilities

-24-hour self-access to our translation lab dedicated to translation students
-Use specialist software such as SDL Trados Studio 2015
-Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at the department’s Myth Reading Group
-Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
-Weekly multilingual workshops led by internationally renowned experts from the industry
-Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost

Your future

If you love literature and languages and would like to acquire professional translation skills, then our MA Translation and Literature is for you. Takers of our courses in translation can use the skills gained to further their future career in this area.

You develop a range of key employability skills including researching, writing for specific purposes, and translation. Our course typically leads to a career in translation, but could also lead to a career in education, publishing and administration.

We work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we also offer supervision for PhD and MPhil. We offer supervision in areas including language acquisition, language learning and language teaching, culture and communication, psycholinguistics, language disorders, sociolinguistics, and theoretical and descriptive linguistics.

Our graduates are successful in a wide variety of career paths. They leave Essex with a unique set of skills and experience that are in demand by employers.

Example structure

-Principles of Translation and Interpreting
-Technologies of Translation
-Dissertation
-Translation Portfolio I (French) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio II (French) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio I (German) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio II (German) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio I (Portuguese) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio II (Portuguese) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio I (Spanish) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio II (Spanish) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio I (Italian) (optional)
-Translation Portfolio II (Italian) (optional)
-Writing the Novel (optional)
-Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography (optional)
-The Tale: Tellings and Re-Tellings (optional)
-Dramatic Structure (optional)
-Literature and Performance in the Modern City
-Early Modern to Eighteenth Century Literature
-Georgian and Romantic Literature and Drama
-Adaptation (optional)
-Documentary and the Avant-garde: Film, Video, Digital (optional)
-Film and Video Production Workshop (optional)
-Advanced Film and Industry: Production and Industry
-US Nationalism and Regionalism (optional)
-African American Literature
-Sea of Lentils: Modernity, Literature, and Film in the Caribbean
-Writing Magic (optional)
-"There is a Continent Outside My Window" : United States and Caribbean Literatures in Dialogue (optional)
-Literature and the Environmental Imagination: 19th to 21st Century Poetry and Prose

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