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Drama and Creative Writing

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Drama and Creative Writing

BA
  • UCAS code WW48
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

By combining the study of Creative Writing with Drama, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how theatre performance and creative writing interact - whether you specialise as a playwright, or choose to take the poetry or fiction options in creative writing.

Choosing to study Drama at Royal Holloway will put you at the centre of one of the largest and most influential Drama and Theatre departments in the world. You'll create performances, analyse texts, and bring a range of critical ideas to bear on both. On this course the text and the body, thinking and doing, work together. There's no barrier between theory and practice: theory helps you understand and make the most of practice, while practice sheds light on theory. By moving between the two, you'll find your place as an informed theatre-maker, and by studying a variety of practices, by yourself and with others, you'll get knowledge of the industry as a whole, and learn how your interests could fit into the bigger picture.

We are top-rated for teaching and research, with a campus community recognised for its creativity. Our staff cover a huge range of theatre and performance studies, but we're particularly strong in contemporary British theatre, international and intercultural performance, theatre history, dance and physical theatre, and contemporary performance practices.

Studying Creative Writing at one of the UK's most dynamic English departments will challenge you to develop your own critical faculties. Learning to write creatively, you'll develop your own writing practice.

Course units are taught by nationally and internationally known scholars, authors, playwrights and poets who are specialists in their fields who write ground-breaking books, talk or write in the national media and appear at literary festivals around the world.

  • Complementary disciplines for the aspiring playwright.
  • Explore creative skills including dance or puppetry.
  • Assessment through performance and coursework.
  • Specialise in different literary forms: poetry, playwriting or fiction.
  • Build a portfolio, creating, critiquing and shaping your own artistic work.

Core Modules

Year 1

You will take the following modules in Drama:

  • Theatre and Performance Making 1
  • Theatre and Text

You will take the following modules in Creative Writing:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of literary and cultural writing forms through reading, discussion and practice. You will look at poetry, drama and prose fiction alongside stand-up comedy, adaptation, translation, songwriting, and other forms of creative expression and articulation. You will learn how to offer clear, constructive, sensitive critical appraisals, and how to accept and appropriately value criticism of your own work.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a range historical perspectives on the function, forms, and value of creative writing. You will look at the genesis of particular genres, such as the short story, the novel and the manifesto, and consider relationships between historical genres and the contemporary writer. You will interrogate your own assumptions about creative writing and critically examine the relationship between creative writing and society.

Year 2

 You will take two from the following modules in Creative Writing:

  • Playwriting
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
Year 3

You will choose one of the following modules. Each of these modules consists of a year-long independent project, working closely with a staff supervisor from the appropriate field.

  • Playwriting 2
  • Fiction 2
  • Poetry 2

 You will take the following module in Creative Writing:

  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • All modules are core
Year 2

Optional modules in Drama may include:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of non-traditional approaches to performance making that constitute the broader term ‘devised’ practice. You will look at methods of engaging with contemporary life, focussing on a number of key areas of devised practice, including their contexts, forms, and modes of documentation. You will consider the generative roles played by autobiography, the body, political activism and everyday life and use theoretical and practical research to develop your own performance pieces.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the methods of theatre directing. You will look at the role of the director from preparing a play text to staging a successful production, considering the collaborations between actors, designers, playwrights and producers. You will exmaine a variety of approaches to classic texts and new writing, and hone your skills by directing your peers in short scenes from a play of your choice.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the difference between stage acting and acting for camera. You will learn techniques for 'translating' your stage acting skills to mediated performance. You will collaborate through the year with directing students in the Department of Media Arts on an internal monologue film, a silent film, and a short scene, and these can later be used as part of an audition reel.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of theatre forms that integrate dance and drama. You will look at the variety of ways that practitioners have chosen to bring text and movement into creative dialogue, using scores, play texts, choreography and movement processes. You will examine the values and principles that drive such experimentation and reflect on the historical, political and cultural contexts within which these practitioners worked. You will consider the work of practitioners such as Pina Bausch, DV8, Frantic Assembly, Complicite, Caryl Churchill and Martin Crimp, and develop a small group performance devised in response to selected texts and styles of movement/dance.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of spatial design in a performance context. You will look at how designers respond to and make space for theatre to happen, and through the study of visual composition and visual langauge, will explore the role of spatial design in a performance context. You will consider the the work of a variety of practitioners and will test out your design ideas in a series of practical and performance workshops focusing on textual analysis, space and place, object, performer and the spectator.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how theatre practitioners have frequently sought to represent social reality in order to critique it. You will look at the naturalist stage of the late nineteenth century through to contemporary verbatim performance, and explore the methods and implications of theatre’s 'reality-effects'. You will consider why so many theatre companies and practitioners in the twenty-first century have turned to documentary, tribunal, verbatim and other forms of reality-based performance, and examine a range of contemporary plays and performance texts from around the world, building an awareness of the politics, possibilities and limitations of 'staging the real'.

  • In this module you will look at the work of debbie tucker green, one of the most exciting black playwrights of the early twenty first century, who's critical acclaim has recognised her original experimental linguistic virtuosity. You will explore the the performance possibilities of her playtexts, considering writing form alongside the topical social and political human rights issues she portrays, such as genocide, urban teenage violence, sex tourism and mental health. You will consider tucker green’s impact as a black British woman playwright by situating her plays in relation to trends in plays by other contemporary black British women playwrights, and examine her work within the context of 21st Century black British new writing.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the wide-ranging discussions of ecology and environmentalism in Shakespeare's plays. You will look at the relations between humans and the natural world, and consider contemporary environmental debates and theatre practices. Guest speakers, such as David Haygarth, Head of Energy and Sustainability at Royal Holloway, will address scientific and commercial topics such as the UN 15 sustainable development goals, and the Caryl Churchill Theatre’s green credentials. You will explore a range of plays by Shakespeare which stage the natural world, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, King Lear, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. You will also examine how environmentalism can impact both theatre and Shakespeare in performance.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of children's theatre and the current success of theatre for young audiences. You will look at the innovative performance styles of theatre companies such as Oily Cart and Theatre-rites, and consider how their work has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary theatre. You will examine the Unicorn theatre, the first purpose-built theatre for children in London; playwrights such as Charles Way, Philip Ridley, Neil Duffield, Mark Ravenhill and David Greig; and the work of theatremakers such as Mark Storor and Sue Buckmaster, who bring a blend of visual art, puppetry and live art to performances for children. You will critically analyse how performance installations can excite children’s imaginations, focusing on the visual, tactile and aural elements of theatre and performance.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the diverse art forms that investigate memory in dynamic conversation and the nature of art, history, and humanity. You will look at the disruption to the purpose, value, and nature of art in the aftermath of the cataclysmic events of the Holocaust, and move through the twentieth century to consider different cultures of memory, memorialisation, trauma, and witnessing. You will examine a wide range of cultural textual and performative genres, including first-hand testimony, plays, films, graphic novels, museums, and public monuments.

  • In this module you will develop an embodied understanding of culture. You will look at different cultural contexts for dance production, considering the context of where, when and how you dance. You will examine the cultural production and consumption of dance, exploring theories grounded in cultural studies and their implications on dance and dancing bodies, such as Marxism, post-modernism, feminism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, gender and sexuality, and psychoanalysis. You will focus on popular dance, global popular culture, and dance on screen, and investigate the relationship between dance practices and the social, political and economic context in which they emerge. You will be encouraged to devise performances which creatively engage with cultural studies.

  • Theatre and Ideas: Ideas of Gender and Sexuality
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Tragedy
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Adaptation
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of the Musical
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Acting
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Money
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Casting
Year 3

Optional modules in Drama may include:

  • Love, Gender and Sexuality
  • Race Relations in Theatre, Film and Television
  • Shakespeare
  • Naturalist Theatre in Context
  • Creative Learning and Theatre
  • Physical Theatre
  • Stage to Screen: Adaptation and Performance of Plays on Film
  • The Actor's Voice
  • Actor Training in a Globalised World
  • Group Project
  • Final Year Project - Special Study
  • Final Year Project - Dissertation
  • Taught Dissertation

Each year, you'll take two modules in each subject. Drama explores a whole range of dramatic and theatrical forms, conventions, periods, traditions and activities. You'll learn how to get intellectual ideas across in presentations and through performance. You'll also learn to work well in teams. In your first year, a foundation course, you'll get a grounding in contemporary theatremaking and critical theories. In your second and final years, you'll study alongside single honours students, taking half of your modules in Drama.

In your first year of Creative Writing, you'll take two introductory modules, before going on in your second year to specialise in two literary forms. In your final year, you'll wrap up by taking one of those forms to honours level.

The course has a flexible structure: students take twelve course units, four per year. Some are compulsory, and others you can choose. In your second and third years, you'll make up the marks that count for your final degree award. You'll also take a study skills course during your first year, to equip you with writing skills to make your degree count. This course won't count towards your final degree, but you'll need to take it to pass on to second year.

You'll be assessed through examinations, essays, seminar presentations, practical assignments and creative portfolios. In Drama modules, you'll often be assessed as part of a group.

Drama, Theatre and Dance Undergraduate Admissions

 

 

Admissions office: +44 (0)1784 414944

6th in the UK for performing arts

Source: QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2019 (Drama, Theatre and Dance)

1st for research intensity

Source: Complete University Guide, 2020 (Drama, Theatre and Dance)

4th in the UK for creative writing

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020 (English)

90% overall student satisfaction

Source: National Student Survey, 2019 (English)

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