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Study information

Staging Space: Dramatic Geography and Audience Experience

Module titleStaging Space: Dramatic Geography and Audience Experience
Module codeEAS3420
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Chloe Preedy (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

‘Theatre is pre-eminently a spatial medium, for it can dispense with language on occasion but never with space.’ (David Wiles)

Questions of space and place are central to the experience of live theatre, in which actors and audience typically occupy the same or adjacent location(s). Moreover, as Gay McAuley argues, the performance space is not an “empty container”, but rather an active producer of social and theatrical meaning. This module invites attention to the significance of diverse playing places, fictional geographies, and developments in spatial dramaturgy for our understanding of modern drama’s composition, staging, and reception. We will engage in textual and performative analysis of nineteenth- and twentieth-century drama, discussing aspects that range from the imaginary geographies evoked within the plays we study to the performance spaces in which they would have been staged and experienced. We will also consider how different playing locations might influence individual audience members’ experiences of theatrically-represented places and events, with reference to related environmental and phenomenological discourse.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to deepen your understanding of the spatial imaginaries, politics, and practices of modern drama, drawing upon recent and ongoing research in the fields of drama, literary geography, and environmental and urban humanities to enrich your engagement with plays written and performed during the nineteenth, twentieth, and early twenty-first centuries. Through a module focus on scripted drama, you will engage in interdisciplinary research and learn to analyse dramatic works in both textual and performative contexts, with reference to the embodied spatial experience(s) of players and playgoers, and learn about important related developments in dramatic practice.

The seminars and assessments for this module will develop your verbal and written communication skills in various ways. The emphasis in seminars will be on preparing work in advance and working as a team, allowing you to gain confidence in sharing your own ideas and listening carefully to others to establish a constructive and productive environment for discussion and analysis. By taking it in turn to lead our weekly seminars as part of a small group, you will also gain important transferrable experience of planning and managing the work of others, as well as an enhanced opportunity to build your own communication skills. The module’s research essay will be an opportunity to further your independent research and essay-writing skills, including by engaging in detailed textual and/or performative analysis and engaging with theoretical and/or historical contexts relevant to your chosen topic. The review-writing exercise will provide related learning experience in adapting your work for different audiences and contexts than the standard academic essay, which will help to prepare you for the workplace and provide an opportunity for creative interpretation.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse the dramatic geography and/or the spatial dynamics of modern drama, including through critical engagement with relevant historical and/or theoretical contexts;
  • 2. Establish connections between playtexts and playing spaces, demonstrating an informed awareness of related developments in dramatic practice;
  • 3. Engage critically with and utilise theoretical models for analysing how the spatial aspects of modern drama might impact the experience of those reading, performing, or attending a performance of a modern dramatic work.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Analyse dramatic literature at an advanced level, including by relating its concerns and modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 5. Integrate texts and discourses specific to your own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history;
  • 6. Identify and appraise relevant theoretical ideas, including by relating these ideas to dramatic texts and contexts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
  • 8. Utilise appropriate research and bibliographic skills, demonstrating advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis;
  • 9. Construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and write clear and correct prose at an advanced level;
  • 10. Adapt your writing appropriately to the requirements of a specific genre and/or type of publication.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Spatial Theories and Dramatic Production
  • Domestic Interiors (I): Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler
  • Domestic Interiors (II): Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog
  • Spaces of the Mind (I): Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
  • Spaces of the Mind (II): Gao Xingjian, The Bus Stop
  • Playing Places (I): From the Moscow Arts Theatre to the Berliner Ensemble
  • Occupied Territory? (I): Wole Soyinka, Death and the King's Horseman
  • Occupied Territory? (II): Timberlake Wertenbaker, Jefferson’s Garden
  • Working the Land (I): Caryl Churchill, Fen
  • Working the Land (II): Chantal Bilodeau, Sila
  • Playing Places (II): Punchdrunk, Sleep No More and WildWorks, Wolf’s Child
  • Everyday Violence (I): Sophie Treadwell, Machinal
  • Everyday Violence (II): Griselda Gambaro, Saying Yes

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching2211 x 2-hour seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching55 x 1-hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching84 x 2-hour workshops
Scheduled learning and teaching10Production screenings
Guided independent study66Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study12Workshop preparation (individual)
Guided independent study177Reading, research, and assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar plan (group presentation and guided analysis)Completed lesson plan (equivalent to 500 words) 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 91, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9Verbal feedback in booked office hour
Essay plan1 A4 page (size 11+ font)1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9Verbal feedback in booked office hour

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar leadership (group presentation and guided analysis)30Group presentation (30 mins for a group of 3 or 10 mins each) and guided analysis (30 mins for a group of 3 or 10 mins per member)1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Performance review301,500-word blog OR 6-min video essay/podcast 1, 2, 7, 10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay403,000 words1-10 Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar leadership (group presentation and guided analysis)Essay (2,000 words) about the proposed seminar activity1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9Referral/Deferral period
Performance review (1,500-word blog OR 6-min video essay/podcast)Performance review (1,500-word blog OR 6-min video essay/podcast)1, 2, 7, 10Referral/Deferral period
Essay (3,000 words)Essay (3,000 words)1-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Chantal Bilodeau, Sila
  • Caryl Churchill, Fen
  • Griselda Gambaro, Saying Yes
  • Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler
  • Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog
  • Wole Soyinka, Death and the King's Horseman
  • Sophie Treadwell, Machinal
  • Timberlake Wertenbaker, Jefferson’s Garden
  • Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
  • Gao Xingjian, The Bus Stop


  • Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others
  • Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins, eds, Performing Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice
  • Peter Brook, The Empty Space
  • Una Chaudhuri, Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama
  • Stanton B. Garner, Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama
  • Stanton B. Garner, Kinesthetic Spectatorship in the Theatre: Phenomenology, Cognition, Movement
  • Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space
  • Jennifer Low, Dramatic Spaces: Scenography and Spectatorial Perceptions
  • Gay McAuley, Space in Performance: Making Meaning in the Theatre
  • Gay McAuley, ed., Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place
  • Kim Solga, Space

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • Digital Theatre Plus
  • Drama Online
  • ELE
  • English Drama
  • National Theatre Collection
  • On the Boards
  • Routledge Performance Archive

Key words search

Modern drama, theatre, performance, space, place, dramatic geography, audience

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date