module specification

SM5008 - Excavating the Text (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Excavating the Text
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
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Coursework 40%   Group work practical with inbuilt attendance requirement (15mns)
Group Presentation 40%   Group work practice/theory presentation also submitted online (15mns)
Coursework 20%   Supporting written documentation (2,000)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

Excavating the Text, alongside Performing the Text, explores ways of utilising various forms of text in theatre practice.  It will develop analytical research and performance skills in relation to several contemporary play texts.  In addition it will broaden the notion of ‘text’ – exploring other forms of text as stimuli and introducing the ‘performance text’. The module will build on Narratives of Self – teaching more advanced approaches to performance and more systematic approaches to rehearsal. Students will be encouraged to be analytical, exploring table work and acting techniques which prepare a text for performance. They will then be given a performance opportunity, to test these concepts and skills. Texts will be chosen to complement the theory covered in Performance and Society.

Module aims

• To introduce systematic approaches to rehearsal.
• To introduce specific performance skills related to working with text.
• To allow performance opportunities for students to explore relationship with audience.
• To explore the relationship and the differences between text and performance text.
• To introduce students to a range of contemporary play texts and writers with a social agenda.
• To introduce students to a wider concept of text and explore using such texts in performance.
• To introduce the notion of research and development in relation to making theatre.


The module will be taught in a workshop setting.  In the first half of the module students will be introduced to a variety of contemporary play texts with a social context or agenda, for example Wertenbaker, Williams, Tucker Green, Bean ,Neilson, Osment, Kirkwood, Jacob, Churchill, Kane, Pinnock.  Students will be taught performance techniques as appropriate, developed by a variety of practitioners, for example Stansilavski, Panet, Hagan, Brecht, Meisner, and Chekov, to unlock these texts and to prepare them for performance. They will also explore to the notion of audience and experiment with performing text in different configurations.   Students will be allocated scene studies which they will rehearse to performance standard. In the second half of the module students will be introduced to an expanded notion of text which might include factual information, biography, prose, comic books, visual material, film and explore approaches to those text in performance. The final part of this module will link directly with Performing the Text, serving as research and development for its final assessment. Students will be given a specific text to explore both through traditional research and practice as research which will lead to a theory practice assessment.

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
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 have gained:
• An understanding of, in its wider sense, the notion of text.
• The ability to read and deconstruct a play text in context and in relation to theories studied in Performance and Identity and Society in Performance.
• Techniques and skills related to exploring a text from a performer’s view point in rehearsal and performance.
• A more complex understanding of notions of audience applied in practice.
• The ability to undertake research and development towards a practical performance project with a social agenda.
• Advanced skills in independent and collaborative ways of developing performance work.

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module will build on the methodology used for Performing Narratives of Self and will be a mixture of practical group work, written work and practice/theory presentation.
(1) Group practical to assess skills and techniques and concepts learnt.
(2) Supporting written documentation. 
(3) Theory/practice group presentation of work in development - part of which will also be submitted on line.
In practical assessments students will be marked on theory and process and product but not specifically on ‘performance’.  The written work will support all the practical work and might include an abstract for the practical work, an annotated script, notation on structure, proxemics and kinesics, evaluation of process and product etc.  The presentation will mirror research and development presentations theatre companies may have to make to funding bodies and will be a mixture of theory and practice.


Aston and Reinelt. 2000. The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights (Cambridge Companions to Literature) CUP
Benedetti, J. 2008.  Stanislavski: An Introduction   Bloomsbury Publishing
Eddershaw, M. 1996. Performing Brecht  Routledge
Griffin, G. 2011. Contemporary Black and Asian Women Playwrights in Britain (Cambridge Studies in Modern Theatre) CUP
Hodge, A. 2010  Actor Training   Routledge
Kershaw and Nicholson. 2010.  Research Methods in Theatre and Performance  Edinburgh University Press
Lehmann, H. 2006. Postdramatic Theatre Routledge
Malkin, J. 1999. Memory: Theater and Postmodern Drama (Theater: Theory/Text/Performance) University of Michigan Press
McTeague, J. 1994. Playwrights and Acting: Acting Methodologies of Brecht, Ionesco, Pinter and Shepard Greenwood Press
Moseley, N. 2012. Meisner in Practice: A Guide for Actors, Directors and Teachers Nick Hern Books
O ‘Brien, N. 2010.  Stanislavski in Practice: Exercises for Students Routledge
Petit, L. 2009. The Michael Chekhov Handbook: For the Actor  Routledge
Sierz, A. 2011.  Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Plays and Playwrights)  Methuen