Playwriting (DRA3075)

StaffProfessor Cathy Turner - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module is designed for those who are interested in developing and expanding their writing skills for live performance, through weekly shifts in focus to explore: the 'rules' of playwriting; experimental approaches to defining the play; text in relation to a range of other stage elements. Relevant reference will be made to writers, performers, dramaturgs and directors. Students will undertake a range of formative written assessments, leading to the submission of a longer performance text and essay.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Recognise a range of approaches to writing for performance, their contexts and underlying principles.
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of dramaturgical issues regarding the writing and shaping of a play or performance text
  • 3. Develop their own writing style and ability to write in different registers and for different contexts.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate the advanced ability to utilise research tools and to translate theory into practice
  • 5. Relate to others in theatrical processes and performances; to work effectively with others and to initiate and sustain creative, analytic and interpretative work within strict time limits and to solve a number of specific technical problems and apply that understanding to performance work.
  • 6. Demonstrate the ability to engage critically and analytically from different theoretic perspectives, to explore theoretical concerns through practice and vice versa, and to synthesise findings in practical and written tasks. The ability to interpret research into physical practice and vice versa.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback, and to improve communication skills and advanced analytic abilities in discussions
  • 8. Develop advanced personal research skills using personal initiative; to set personal objectives that are linked to a sense of challenge and extending boundaries and to identify and evaluate personal learning strategies that are self-critical as much as self-reflective.
  • 9. Demonstrate the ability to think laterally and demonstrate originality in problem solving, to express and communicate creative ideas and images, and the ability to initiate and sustain creative work.

Syllabus plan

The pattern of teaching may vary from 6 hours per week to 9 hours per week, and from 9-11 taught weeks in total. Self-directed work will continue for 11 weeks. [TC1] 

 [TC1]I have designed a structure that covers the same content, but works more intensively, leaving a self-directed period for developing the script further towards submission.

Week 9  proposals for longer scripts/texts.

Weeks 10-11 Readings of draft scripts/texts.

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 teaching666-9 hours per week: combination of seminars, workshops, tutorials
Guided independent study234independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
weekly creative writing tasks10 minute scripts 1,3,5,8,9verbal feedback
critical/analytical task10 minute presentation2,4,6verbal feedback

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
Script603500 words1,3,6,7,9written feedback
Essay402,500 words2,4,6,8written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Script/performance textPiece of written work1,3,6,7,9Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay2,4,6,8Referral/deferral period
Continuous assessmentContinuous assessment 2,3,5,7Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

DesRocher, R. (2008). "Where Do New Plays Come From?" The Drama Review 52(4): 7-12.

Edgar, D. (2009). How Plays Work. London, Nick Hern Books.

Etchells, T. (1999). Certain Fragments. London and New York, Routledge.

Freeman, J. (2007). New Performance/New Writing. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Freytag, G. (1900). Technique of the Drama: An Exposition of Dramatic Composition and Art. Chicago, Scott, Foresman and Company.

Fuchs, E. (2004). "EF's Visit to a Small Planet: Some Questions to Ask a Play." Theater 34(2): 5-9.

Kaye, N. (1994). Postmodernism and Performance. Basingstoke and New York, Macmillan and St Martin's Press.

Lehmann, H.-T. (1997). "From Logos to Landscape: Text in Contemporary Dramaturgy." Performance Research 2(1): 55-60.

Meyrick, J. (2006). "Cut and Paste: The Nature of Dramaturgical Development in the Theatre." Theatre Research International 31(3): 270-282.

Pavis, P. (2008). "On Faithfulness: The Difficulties Experienced by the Text/Performance Couple." Theatre Research International 33(2): 117-126.

Turner, C., Ed. (2010). Studies in Theatre and Performance. Vol 30, No 1.

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Key words search

playwriting, performance writing, dramaturgy, plays