Theatre and Health (DRA2045)

StaffMs Cariad Astles - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to develop students’ learning through close study of the area of performance and health. Students will engage in lecture, seminar, workshop and presentation sessions which deepen and elaborate the relationship between performance and health. The work will enable students to develop skills in historical research, analysis of visual and performance material, application of ideas to models of practice and appreciation of future possibilities for collaborations in these areas. The module will draw on existing research within the Exeter area and elsewhere into performance interventions in healthcare and will also draw on contemporary research from the USA, Latin America, Europe and the UK into medical concepts of performance and performance manifestations of health. The schedule will include presentations and discussions with Research Fellow at the RDE where possible and industry partners from local healthcare providers. There will also be discussion of potential placements and liaison with appropriate bodies to enable contacts to be made with a focus on future work.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Develop an understanding of the changing relationship between performance and health in specific historical and cultural contexts.
  • 2. Develop the ability to analyse visual and written evidence corresponding to performance and health, and articulate these findings.
  • 3. Develop knowledge of contemporary ideas and practice within this area and the ability to make proposals for its future development.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Contribute research to small groups in effective presentations, to evaluate visual evidence and analyse, critique and manipulate complex material.
  • 5. Relate to others in theatrical processes and performances; to work effectively with others in small task-orientated groups and to initiate and sustain creative, analytic and interpretative work within strict time limits and basic technical competence.
  • 6. Utilise research tools effectively and to translate theory into practice; apply library and IT skills in independent additional research.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop personal research skills using personal initiative; to set personal objectives and to identify and evaluate personal learning strategies.
  • 8. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback and to improve communication skills and analytic abilities in discussions.
  • 9. Collaborate in various groups and group sizes, to learn elements of teamwork and presentation.
  • 10. Balance between self-direction and collaborative work; self-management, collaborative working skills, problem solving, critical analysis and valuing own and others' ideas and beliefs.

Syllabus plan

The module will begin by exploring the historical relationship between performance and health as expressed through documents, writing, visual evidence and archival source material. It will move on to analyse the nature of the medicalised body and the complexities in this relationship, including concepts of difference and normality within illness and medical care. It will then go on to analyse contemporary performance interventions within health, including theatre in hospitals and healthcare settings, performance about illness, current initiatives within GP services and the potential implementation of ‘Arts on Prescription’. Over the module, areas to be addressed include performative aspects of the body in medical situations; the theatricalisation of health; theatre interventions in health; and new partnerships and initiatives between healthcare and performance. Students will be able to engage in new discussions about the real benefits of performance in healthcare settings and formulate ideas which feed into this narrative. Typically, the sessions will follow a lecture/seminar/discussion and response format.

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 Teaching Activities11Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Seminars; discussion; presentations; group-led tasks.
Guided independent study267Preparation for group presentations; assessed presentations; preparation for essay.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class presentation in small groups15 minutesallVerbal feedback from tutor and peers

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 presentation in groups5040 minutesallVerbal and written feedback
Essay503,000 words1,2,3,6,7,10written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar presentation in groupsseminar presented as written work allReferred/deferred period
EssayEssay1,2,3,6,7,10Referred/deferred period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bradby, Hannah. Medicine, Health and Society: a critical sociology.

Brodzinski, Emma. Theatre in Health and Care. London: Palgrave, 2010.

Deshager, Mary K. Fractured Bodies: Women’s Cancer and Feminist Theatre NWSA Journal July 2003 15:2.

Elmer, Peter (ed). The healing arts: health, disease and society in Europe 1500-1800. 2003.

Frank, Marion. AIDS Education through theatre. 1995.

Griffin, Meredith. Health consciousness, running and female bodies: an ethnographic study of active ageing.

Health Acts: Applied Theatre, Health and Wellbeing. (multiple sources). Arts Documentation Unit. 2011.

Johanssen, Ola. Community Theatre and AIDS.

Journal of Applied Arts and Health.

Kaye, Charles & Tony Blee (eds). The arts in healthcare: a palette of possibilities. 1997.

Kuppers, Petra. Disability, Culture and Community Performance findings: Strange and Twisted Shapes. 2011.

MacDougall, Jill and P. Stanley Yoder (eds). Contaminated Theatre: intersections of theatre, therapay and public health.

McNamara, Julie. Cracking Up: stand up for mental health. DVD Sept 2011.

Warren, Bernie (ed). Using the creative arts in therapy and health: a practical introduction. 2008.

White, Mike. Arts development in community health: a social tonic. 2009.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Exeter Healthcare Arts

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

March 2013

Key words search

Performance, Health, Medicine, Illness, Hospital