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Course content

This MA addresses the historical, political, theoretical and ethical issues of applied theatre and develops your ability to contextualise, critique and create.

Our aim is to prepare students to be collaborative, responsive, imaginative, politically engaged and culturally aware artist practitioners. The course is aimed at newly-emerging practitioners with a background in theatre, education, activism or social change, as well as at more established practitioners who want to reflect, refresh and develop their skills. We actively encourage the sharing of skills and expertise among our multi-national group of students. We prioritise applicants with some experience in the arts, education, activism or social care, and it is rare that we take applicants directly from their first degree.

Together we explore the ways in which theatre and performance is created by diverse groups of people in a variety of community, social and educational settings: in schools or on the streets, in children’s homes and elderly care, in conflict zones, conferences, crèches and youth clubs, pupil referral units and prisons, women’s refuges and refugee centres, hospitals and hostels – anywhere groups of people meet and interact.

What is applied theatre?

Applied theatre is an umbrella term for a range of exciting worldwide performance forms concerned with personal and social change.

The term embracestheatre of the oppressed, community theatre, theatre-in-education, drama in education, theatre for development, prison theatre, intercultural arts, intergenerational arts, theatre in museums, archives and heritage sites, story-telling, reminiscence theatre, conflict resolution. The work often moves across art forms. This is not a definitive list, as it is a field that is dynamic and changing.

The MA considers case studies from the UK and from across the globe. Central to this investigation are: questions of identity; representation; discrimination; health; equality; human rights; opportunity; access; social inclusion/exclusion; participation; ethics; evaluation and documentation; aesthetics and the role of the artist.

Placement and partnerships

The course is structured so that practice and theory constantly respond to one another, through practical classes and seminars. All students undertake a placement in a recognised host organisation where you'll work with experienced practitioners, and learn from the inside how participatory arts organisations function.

We have active partnerships with many companies, and the majority of the tutors, including the convenor, are active artists, with a variety of arts practices in performance, community and social settings.

Modules & structure

Practical workshops

In the autumn term we look at the roots of Applied Theatre in Education, in Social and Political Change, and in Community. Classes include work with Geese Theatre on their use of mask in Prisons, Drama and Theatre in Education techniques with Gail Babb of Talawa Theatre, intergenerational arts practices with Convenor Sue Mayo, and the use of Drama to explore Domestic Violence, with Tender. Throughout this term students are also engaged in skills-sharing sessions in order to pool their knowledge and expertise. 

In the Spring Term Tutor Raj Bhari, from Talk for Change, leads a module on creative approaches to Community Cohesion, Conflict Resolution, and the artist as activist. We have a short festival of art forms, with classes in song, puppetry and dance- and a residency shared with students of the MA in performance making, working across modules with artists of distinction from within the Goldsmith’s staff and beyond.

Throughout the practical sessions we work with students to develop their facilitation, devising,- project planning and management skills with attention to issues such as group dynamics; power and leadership; inclusion; accessibility; equality; conflict; intercultural practice; safe space and the ethics of touch.

In the summer term students design and lead a weekend of workshops for a public audience.

Histories, Theories and Contexts seminars

This contextual strand enables us consider the thinking behind our embodied knowledge. Through a series of seminars, we consider: the development of applied methods from political theatre; radical and celebratory arts; drama and theatre-in-education; community theatre; prison theatre; therapeutic creative practices and the legacy of Augusto Boal. We study the growing body of writing on applied theatre and its practitioners, and theatre theory. We consider local and international case studies; we read, discuss, watch videos and experience live performances.

Complementary Contextual lectures

Students also choose a lecture based Option module from one of the other exciting MA programmes. Previous modules have included, African Theatre, Performance Praxis, Radical Performance, and The Reflecxtive Practitioner. Our students can also take a specialist applied module led by Danny Braverman, on Disability Theatre, examining the scope and radical nature of disability theatre.

Placement

The Convenor, Sue Mayo, supports students to locate and develop a placement in a recognised host organisation. On the placement students further the skills they have practiced on the programme, whilst dealing with the challenges of a professional context. Placement hosts include London Bubble, Magic Me, Resonate. Greenwich & Lewisham Young People's Theatre, Talawa Theatre, Pan-arts, Crisis, Ovalhouse, Green Shoes Arts, The Young Vic, MIND, CEN8, Lewisham Youth Theatre and Spare Tyre.

Professional development

As part of our commitment to student’s employability, we offer up to five workshops covering various areas directly relevant to workplaces where drama may be applied; for example: planning and managing projects, child protection and working with vulnerable adults, ethics, evaluation, setting up a theatre company or working as an independent artist.

Assessment

The MA Applied Theatre has five points of assessment:

  • a 6,000-word essay based on material covered in Term 1
  • a 6,000-word reflective portfolio on the placement
  • a 12,000-word research project/dissertation

These assessments count towards 80% of the final mark.

The remaining 20% is derived from assessment of the two shared complementary/contextual modules, which include Disability Theatre, Performance Praxis, African Theatre, Musical Theatre and Cultural Theory.


Visit the Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Community & Social Contexts - MA page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!

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