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.
Why study in London?
London continues to be a major world centre for a staggering range of arts activity. It is world-leading in new writing and contemporary performance. We have strong links with a large number of London-based practitioners, international networks and organisations, individuals and venues in the field of new performance writing.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Fiona Graham.
Modules & Structure
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.
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). You also take another option from the list of contextual modules shared with students from other Masters programmes.
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.
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 essay. Final Project leads to the production of a playtext (Playwriting), or a Dissertation or equivalent practical project (Dramaturgy).
Playwriting specialists will become skilled in:
the use of a range of techniques for the development and structuring of original material for live performance working to a brief in diverse professional circumstances evolving an individual creative vision
Dramaturgy specialists will become:
familiar with a diverse range of techniques for generating and developing new work skilled in analysis of dramatic text and live performance skilled in formulating a distinctive contribution to policy and practice in one or more fields of new writing
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.
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.
Dramaturgy alumni 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.