module specification

DN5015 - Designing the Performance (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Designing the Performance
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
180 hours Guided independent study
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 30%   Group work practical with participation requirement (15 minutes)
Group Presentation 50%   Ensemble production/s with participation requirement (circa 3 minutes per student)
Coursework 20%   Written documentation
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

Designing the Performance is a year-long module in which both production design and performance students work together.
It provides opportunities for students to create designs for performance and to show them in front of an audience.  It continues to challenge and broaden the notions of ‘text’ and ‘audience’. It will draw on case studies of contemporary theatre practitioners in exploring how performance designs are created and will focus in particular on ensemble and collaborative work.  
It may be taught by theatre companies or practitioners in residency. It will utilise skills and concepts learnt in SM4011 Objects and Theatre and will provide models of theatre making and production which will be drawn upon in year three.

Prior learning requirements

Pass and completion of prior level

Module aims

This module seeks to enable you to:

  • understand the ethos and working practices of contemporary theatre companies
  • explain the purpose of professional and technical roles required to create a production
  • adapt a physical and visual approach to text work from the point of view of the performer and theatre and/or film maker
  • use design and making strategies that test notions of and relationship with audiences
  • use professional modelling techniques in both rehearsal design and performance scenarios


The module will be taught through practice in a workshop setting.  In the first part of the module students will look at alternative approaches to making work which responds to or explores a ‘text’. They will be introduced to several different practitioner approaches but focus upon one. This part of the module may be led by a company in residence for example Frantic Assembly, Sound and Fury, Elastic Theatre, Lightwork, Gheko, Filskit, Improbable, who will work with physical and/or visual approaches to text.  Using their mission, ethos and methodology as a starting point the director will introduce students to skills and concepts needed to create performance work. It will result in the presentation of the work in a practical assessment.
The second half of the module will be directly linked with work undertaken in the third section of DN5013 Scenography, Text and Place. It will utilise the concepts explored and the research undertaken to begin the process of creating an ensemble studio production in collaboration with students taking the BA Theatre and Performance module SM5009 Performing the Text.  Led by a director, students will collaborate to realise a text inspired piece of ensemble theatre with simple production values.  This will be performed in front of a public audience in one of our studios.

Learning and teaching

This module will be taught through practice which will be supported by research and theory.
Learning and teaching strategies for this module will include:
Practical workshops and rehearsals
Individual and small group practical tasks
Self and peer observation and evaluation
Independent research tasks
Practical assessments with group and individual feedback 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • explore the work and ethos of contemporary theatre companies and practitioners through case studies
  • understand the significance to both programme and practice of the differing professional and technical collaborative practitioners within a  production
  • work collaboratively with a distinct and focused ethos and mission
  • demonstrate how the text is realised through the both the physical and visual approach of the designer from the viewpoints of the performer and theatre director or film maker
  • express through models or drawn work the relationship of a performance and meaning of the text to the audience
  • understand the embodied processes undertaken to mount a theatre production and its ethos through modelling and visual and reflective methods

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module will be mostly of practical work. 

  1. Group practical
  2. Practical production in front of an audience.
  3. Supporting written documentation which documents and analyses the process of making assessment item 2

In practical modules students will be marked on theory and process and product but not specifically on ‘performance’.  Written work can be submitted online.



Baugh, C. (2005) Theatre, Performance and Technology: the Development of Scenography in the 20th Century, Palgrave
Bishop, C. (2012) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, Verso
Bishop, C. (2006) Participation (Documents of Contemporary Art),  Whitechapel Art Gallery
Bogart, A. and Landau, T. (2005) The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Compositions, New York Theatre Communications Group
Bonczek, R. B. and Storck, D. (2013) Ensemble Theatre Making: A Practical Guide, Routledge
Collins, J. and Nisbet, A. (2010) Theatre and Performance Design: A Reader in Scenography, Routledge
Graham, S. and Hoggett, S. (2014) The Frantic Assembly Book of Devising Theatre, Routledge
Harvie, J. and Lavender, A. (2010)  Making Contemporary Theatre: International Rehearsal Processes, Manchester University Press
Howard, P. (2001) What is Scenography?, Routledge
Keefe, J. and Murray, S. (2016) Physical Theatres: A Critical Introduction, London Routledge
Lecoq, J. (2002) The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre,  Methuen
Machon, J. (2013) Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance, Palgrave Macmillan
Mermikides, A. and Smart, J. (2010)  Devising in Process, Palgrave McMillan
Radosavljevicc, D. (Ed) (2013) The Contemporary Ensemble: Interviews with Theatre-Makers,  Routledge
Reid-Payne, D. (1981) The Scenographic Imagination, Southern Illinois University Press
Todd, A. and Lecat, J.-G. (2003 )The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments, Faber and Faber 
Wright, J. (2006) Why Is That So Funny?, A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy Nick Hern