module specification

SM4011 - Objects and Theatre (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Objects and Theatre
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
192 hours Guided independent study
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 20%   Group practical project presentation (10 minutes)
Group Presentation 40%   Group practical project performance (15-20 minutes)
Coursework 40%   Project and evaluation portfolio (1,500-2,000words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This is a year long module that will introduce students to an aesthetics of theatre practice through a range of small scale projects drawing on the craft based activities of puppet and object theatre. They will learn craft based skills that will be utilised and developed throughout their course of study. In the second half of the year long programme, this module will feed into Performing Narratives of Self and Devising, supporting and developing the work as they move towards their final project.  Complimented with sound and lighting workshops this will enable students to understand the process and practice of craft based activities in theatre practice.

The work done on the module will be recorded, curated and evaluated in a Project and Evaluation portfolio that will be handed in at the end of the module as part of the assessment process.

The students will have the opportunity to further develop these specific skills in year 2 in Installation and Site. It will reference the work of companies such as Blind Summit, Parrot in the Tank, Little Angel, Improbable, Soap Soup Theatre, People Show, Doo cot, Robert Le Page and Complicite.

Module aims

For students to critically engage with theories of performing objects such as mimesis, simulacra and simulation in order to widen their understanding of how performing objects are a critical part of contemporary theatre and performance practice

• To introduce students to the potential of conveying ideas using puppetry and object theatre.

• To introduce students to contemporary puppetry and object theatre through a practical exploration   of performance techniques and approaches and through research into significant directors and theorists of puppetry.

• To develop students’ skills in preparing and manipulating/animating puppets and objects through visual theatre practice and storytelling.

• To equip students with the skills to develop through theatrical processes a short performance piece using puppetry/object theatre.


The module will open with an exploration of 20th century artists who explored the experimental social and political value of performing objects. Drawing on theoretical approaches to puppetry and object theatre; students will investigate the connectivity between the historical and the contemporary as the module moves on to an exploration of a wide range of contemporary theatre makers and companies who specialise in puppetry and object theatre. This will encompass a variety of performance styles that will reference hand, rod, shadow, string, body and object puppets and on occasion, puppetry and media production where performance is made possible through technological mediation. There will be workshops in basic puppet making and performing skills that will develop into the preparation of a short performance.   Running in tandem with Identity and Performance, this module will draw on concepts of identity and culture to provide material for the practical exploration and utilisation of puppetry and object theatre.

Learning and teaching

This module will be delivered through a combination of modes of delivery. Each week there will be a three-hour workshop session. These sessions may include a mini lecture presentation/demonstration by a staff member that introduces students to a particular aspect of puppet/object theatre. The majority of the sessions will be craft/activity based to compliment the range of teaching methods across other modules. There will be staff and student led seminars. The module will include presentations of research and viewing of video material; there will also be visits to at least one performance where possible and visits to galleries and museums.

The module will also draw on line resources such

Learning outcomes

On completing the module students will be able to...
• demonstrate knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to puppetry and object theatre such as mimesis, simulacra and phenomenology through in class discussion and project preparation and presentation.
• source, craft and prepare puppets and objects for theatrical processes.
• demonstrate practical performance skills of manipulating/animating puppets and objects in visual storytelling.
• collaborate and work effectively with others in small task-orientated groups and initiate and sustain creative, analytic and interpretative work in theatrical processes and performances within strict time limits.
• perform and publicly present with confidence in theatrical processes and seminars.
• apply library and IT skills in independent research activities and evidence this  in the Project and Evaluation portfolio.

Assessment strategy

Through a variety of assessment modes, students will be assessed on their autonomous and collaborative processes. The Project and Evaluation portfolio will assess the student’s competency in autonomous processes and the group presentation will assess their collaborative processes. 

Formative assessment will be set periodically over the course of the module and used to provide students with feedback on their performance and on how it can be improved and/or maintained. This will address different aspects of the syllabus and enable students to prepare material for their portfolio. Reflective practice by students sometimes contributes to formative assessment.
Group practical project presentation (10 minutes): 20%
Students will research, prepare, rehearse and present a 10 minute presentation.  The presentation will outline their vision for their project. The presentation should demonstrate the students’ ability to work collaboratively, undertake individual and group agreed research and presentation tasks using a variety of mediums (hand outs, power point and audio visual aids).
Group practical project performance (15-20 minutes): 40%
group performance, demonstrating the student’s application and development of ideas, puppet/object making/manipulation and performance skills. Marks will be calculated on an individual versus group basis.
Project and Evaluation portfolio: 40%
To include: set research tasks, Lecture and class notes, selected images, project evaluation (1,500-2,000 words).


Bell, J. 2001. Puppets, Masks and Performing Objects MIT Press
Bernier, M and O’Hare, J eds., 2005. Puppetry in Education and Therapy: Unlocking Doors to the Mind and Heart AuthorHouse
Bicat, T. 2007. Puppets and Performing Objects: A Practical Guide The Crowood Press Ltd
Francis, P. 2011. Puppetry: A Reader in Theatre Practice (Readings in Theatre Practice) Palgrave Macmillan
Gross, K. 2011. Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life University of Chicago Press
Kara, R. 2011. Automata and Mimesis on the Stage of theatre history Basingstoke: Palgrave
Baudrillard, J. 1981. Simulacra and Simulation (The Body in Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism) Translated by Sheila Glaser The University of Michigan Press 1994
The Centre of Research into  Objects and Puppets in Performance
Project Muse
Puppet Centre