DRA1018 - The Creative Actor

2022/3 Module description

StaffProfessor Stephen Hodge - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module is centred on the importance of play(fulness) and collaborative practice for creators of performance. The word ‘play’, in the context of drama, often refers to a script or a production, but play has broader significations. We will examine play in an expansive sense in this module, investigating topics such as children’s games, sensory exercises, improvisation, theatre games, sound and/or movement compositions, visual scripts, image-based pieces, and interactive and ‘invisible’ performances. You will learn how to work together to create structured play for performance. This module will enable you to harness your creativity and that of others to devise theatre using different sources of inspiration and to become an imaginative and critically reflective theatre artist.

Module aims

This option module will:

  • Introduce you to the importance of play(fulness) and collaborative processes in the development of plays (or structured play) for performance
  • Explore the uses, ideas, theoretical material, and training strategies that relate to these activities

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Work imaginatively, reliably, generously and with focus, as part of a team, in a studio-based and/or online learning environment
  • 2. Demonstrate heightened awareness of how actor/audience relationships affect both process and meaning
  • 3. Run workshop activities for other students
  • 4. Analyse through discussion, practice and written work the role and significance of 'play' in the development of 'plays', expanding any limited definitions of a theatrical 'play' beyond the staging of a verbal, dialogue-driven, authored text

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Develop the ability to relate to others in theatrical processes and performances - to work effectively with others in small task-orientated groups, and to initiate and sustain accessible creative, analytic and interpretative practical work within strict time limits, as well as the ability to self-document these processes in a logbook
  • 6. Begin to learn how to explore theoretical concepts through practice, and vice versa, and to synthesise findings in small-group presentations and a practical written logbook of the exercises, readings, analysis and practice of the module.
  • 7. Develop a basic understanding of realisation and contextualisation in performance, as well as confidence in basic performance and devising skills and presentation, both of dramatic practice and researched material

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Develop basic personal research skills of balancing collaborative working and self-direction, and identifying and evaluating learning strategies for independent, self-directed research
  • 9. Develop group co-operation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback and to value one’s own and others’ ideas as beliefs, as well as to develop confidence in (or improve) communication skills and simple analytic abilities in discussions
  • 10. Develop basic library and IT skills (in independent self-directed research)

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that this module will use an integrated series of practice-based exercises and seminars to explore and introduce an analysis of play, game-structure and narrative, the performer's resources, actor-audience relationships, and rehearsal skills.

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 teaching66Weekly staff-led studio sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching33Weekly independent group-led studio session
Guided independent study201Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Log book1-8Oral 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
Process into performance60Individual continuous assessment of engagement in class activities and assigned tasks, including individual and group work, throughout the term1-10Oral feedback
Essay402000 words1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Process into performance Portfolio (3000 words or equivalent if using audio-visual materials)1-10Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 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

Basic reading:

  • Barker, Clive, Theatre games: a new approach to drama training. London: Methuen, 1977.
  • Boal, Augusto, trans. Adrian Jackson, Games for actors and non-actors. London: Routledge, 1992.
  • DeDrantz, Thomas F. and Anita Gonzalez, Black Performance Theory, Durham: Duke, 2014.
  • Hahlo, Richard & Peter Reynolds, Dramatic Events: How to Run a Successful Workshop. London: Faber, 2000.
  • Hargrave, Matt, Theatres of Learning Disability: Good, Bad, or Plain Ugly?, London: Palgrave, 2015.
  • Heddon, Deirdre & Jane Milling, Devising performance: a critical history. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
  • Huizinga, Johan, Homo ludens: a study of the play-element in culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1949.
  • Johnston, Chloe and Coya Paz Brownrigg, Ensemble-Made Chicago: A Guide to Devised Theater, Northwestern University Press, 2018.
  • Johnston, Chris, House of games: making theatre from everyday life. London: Nick Hern, 1998.
  • Johnstone, Keith, Impro: improvisation and the theatre. London: Eyre Methuen, 1981. Oddey, Alison, Devising theatre: a practical and theoretical handbook. London: Routledge, 1994.
  • Luckett, Sharrell and Tia M. Shaffer, eds., Black Acting Methods, London, Routledge, 2016.
  • Nachmanovitch, Stephen, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 1990.
  • Opie, Iona & Peter, Children's games in street and playground. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.
  • Schechner, Richard, Performance studies: an introduction. London: Routledge, 2002.
  • Spolin, Viola, Improvisation for the theater: a handbook of teaching and directing techniques. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1983.
  • Thorpe, Jess and Tashi Gore, A Beginner’s Guide to Devising Theatre, London: Bloomsbury, 2019.
  • Tufnell, Miranda & Chris Crickmay. Body space image: notes towards improvisation and performance. London: Dance Books, 1993.
  • Web based and electronic resources:

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Library-based video documents by Exeter graduate theatre companies, who use devising techniques to create work across a range of genres:

  • Speak Bitterness and Making Performance Educational Video by Forced Entertainment
  • Shelf Life and The Night Before Christmas by Theatre Alibi
  • Six Dead Queens and Pushing Daisies by Foursight Theatre
  • Devised performances at Exeter Phoenix and the Northcott Theatre.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

drama, theatre, acting, play, plays, devising, actor training

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