DRA2045 - Theatre and Health

2022/3 Module description

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

Module description

This module is a seminar-based option which explores the relationship between performance and health from a variety of perspectives. There has been growing international interest in increasing collaborations between health, medicine and performance, and the module offers a response to this focus. You will develop your understanding of:

  • the social aspects of performance
  • the relationship between performance and the medicalised body
  • the theatrical representation of health

This module will be of interest to Drama students interested in exploring areas such as health in performance, dramatherapy and the body in performance; also to medical students interested in exploring theatre; and to any other students wishing to focus on these areas. There are no pre-requisite modules and the module is particularly relevant  for interdisciplinary study.

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Examine the area of performance and health
  • Deepen and elaborate the relationship between performance and health.
  • Enable you 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.
  • Draw on existing research within the Exeter area and elsewhere into performance interventions in healthcare. It will also draw on contemporary global research a range of diverse cultural, geographical and social contexts into medical concepts of performance and performance manifestations of health.

Where possible, the schedule will include discussions with both artists and medical professionals. These may include industry partners from local healthcare providers and artists from different fields. 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. Create a 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

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

  • An exploration of the historical relationship between performance and health as expressed through documents, writing, visual evidence and archival source material.
  • The nature of the medicalised body and the complexities in this relationship, including concepts of difference and normality within illness and medical care.
  • 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
  • New partnerships and initiatives between healthcare and performance

You 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 Teaching11Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars, 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 minutes1-10Oral 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 groups4040 minutes: three to four students per group; average of ten minutes per student.1-10Oral and written feedback
Essay (or in cases of dyslexia, dyspraxia or other neurodiverse condition impacting upon writing ability, portfolio or equivalent assessment which meets the ILOs fully such as presentation, visual essay, etc as negotiated)403000 words or equivalent in cases of alternative assessments1-3,6,7,10Written feedback
Continuous assessment20Contribution to discussion fora, preparation for class, class discussions, sharing of useful resources, collaborative groupwork3-5,8-9Verbal and written 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 presentation1-10Referral/Deferral period
Essay or equivalent (see above)Essay or equivalent (see above)1-3,6,7,10Referral/Deferral period
Continous assessmentRepeat study/mitigaton3-5,8-9Referral/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:

  • 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.

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

March 2013

Last revision date


Key words search

Performance, Health, Medicine, Illness, Hospital

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