MA Theatre Directing: Text and Production

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Teresa Zoers, MA Theatre Direction: Text and Production

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Whether you wish to pursue a career as a theatre-maker or director or continue in academic research, this course is for you. This is an intensive programme where you will learn from leaders in actor-training, contemporary writing, adaptation and dramaturgy. In addition to faculty expertise, you’ll benefit from visiting professionals and theatre practitioners throughout the year, creating an unparalleled balance of philosophical, technical and practical learning. You’ll also benefit from a truly interdisciplinary approach, with the chance to collaborate with postgraduate scriptwriting students.

Overview

Text-based directing, and performance based theory

The MA in Theatre Directing at the UEA is one of the longest established in the UK. Each year a very small number of Theatre Directing students are selected. All are encouraged to recognise that directing is a collaborative process.

One of the founding principles of the MA has been to establish a firm connection between the academic/critical study of dramatic texts and the director’s working with actors. We do not isolate theory from practice, but search continually for the points of intersection between the verbal, emotional and the physical. We aspire to do this both practically and through extensive technical reading.

To this end, you will regularly rehearse undergraduate student actors on scenes which are re-worked to bring out alternative aspects of the text. You will also learn about the philosophical and historical backgrounds to a variety of directing approaches, and how to apply them in practice. These ideas include many which are commonly used in directing and in actor training - e.g. Stanislavsky, Laban, Lecoq, Johnstone, Meisner. 

Course Strucutre

MA Theatre Directing is divided into three phases of work and practice:

  1. Understanding and collaborating with actors and their craft
  2. Getting the bigger picture, conceptualising the production, using the space
  3. The dissertation - production or research 

1) The Autumn Semester: Scene Class

As an MA Theatre Directing student you will be integrated into the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing in two ways. You will complete a weekly studio skills course alongside first year undergraduates. This includes health and safety, sound, lighting and stage management. On successful completion you’ll be certified to work alone in the building, in at any time, by arrangement.

In your core autumn module you will collaborate with second year undergraduates. Here you will study Shakespearean verse, Laban technique, States of Tension, Status improvisation and the fundamentals of Stanislavskian practice. Throughout the term, you’ll apply the techniques you study in class to a series of scenes, casting undergraduate students and rehearsing out of hours.

In parallel to these modules, you will take part in a weekly group tutorial, discussing both the techniques of the moment and their genesis in theatre practice and theory.

2) The Spring Semester: Post War Theatre and Production

You will work with undergraduate actors to explore Post-War theatre. You will discover key theatrical approaches of the period and learn to apply them through scenework. This culminates with an hour-long, more fully realised, production. 

In your weekly tutorial you will explore wider themes of genre, theatrical style and tone, and conceptualisation. You will grow your frame of reference through guest lecturers and practitioners, some with practical workshops and others with close examination of theatre practice and philosophy. Here you may encounter Artaud, Brecht, Meyerhold, Grotowski, and writers such as Beckett or Kane, who incite a non-naturalistic energy on stage and offer an alternative view of theatrical function and form. 

Additional Module Options

You will choose one of the following modules in each semester:

  • Creative Writing: Scriptwriting Dramaturgy
  • Adaptation and Interpretation
  • Publishing - A Practical Approach
  • Process and Product in Translation
  • East Anglian Literature 

3) Dissertation: Production, Research

Individual development and practical research

Following your Post War production, you will complete a practical research project of your own choosing. This will result in either a written dissertation, a public production, or a combination of the two.

If you choose to complete a public production you will be asked to provide a detailed design, financial and casting plan well in advance, as well as a written rationale for the project. Although productions are mostly delivered in the main studio, there are sometimes opportunities to go to a venue off-campus. Delivery of these productions usually takes place in October, allowing for a late summer rehearsal period.

Other possibilities for your final project include:

  • Placements at a professional theatre, or Drama School, with written recording and analysis of the rehearsal process in which you may participate as assistant director.
  • A dissertation based on a combination of historical research and a review of contemporary productions.
  • New translations of plays from another language into English, or adaptations from a non-dramatic genre.

You will discuss you choice and development path in tutorials.

Interdisciplinarity

One of the strong appeals of the MA in Theatre Directing at the UEA is its place within the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC). MA Directing students often study alongside postgraduate scriptwriting students, sometimes directing scriptwriters' work in rehearsed readings or performances. This culminated last year in our debut showcase to industry professionals - a further opportunity for Directing students to network and to have their work seen. 

Assessment

You will assessed via a mix of academic and critical reflective essays and practical assignments. You will receive verbal feedback on all work and written feedback on all assessment marking.

Course Tutors and Research Interests

In 2017/18 the course will be led by Mike Bernardin, an actor and teacher based until last year in Berlin, where he is still active, as he is throughout Europe and the USA. Mike has trained actors and directors for over twenty five years. His specialism is in the Meisner Technique.

The founder of the MA, Tony Gash, still convenes the second semester masterclasses with visiting professional practitioners.

Sophie Vaughan, an expert in Lecoq, Meisner and filmwork, and Robert Carson, a specialist in directing theatre and opera, as well as a range of guests, may give input throughout the course.

Where Next?

On graduating from this MA you will be equipped, both with skills and vocabulary, to direct actors with confidence and bring conceptual creativity to their work in the technical and plastic elements of the stage. You will graduate ready to apply for assistant director positions in major companies and to go out and make work of your own for small and medium scale venues. Those less inclined towards the practical will be able to critically analyse both written and performed work with dramaturgical acuity, and with insight into theatre methodologies and theatre-making practices. You may pursue this to great profit in academic or journalistic careers.

Alumni who remain in the Norwich area may expect to remain involved in the department’s busy schedule and will benefit from the many opportunities which the vibrant theatrical environment here offers.

This course is also available on a part time basis.

Course Modules 2017/8

Students must study the following modules for 140 credits:

Name Code Credits

CONTEMPORARY THEATRE DIRECTING AND ACTOR TRAINING (WORKSHOPS WITH PROFESSIONALS)

This module considers the relationship between actor training and directing via regular workshops with contemporary professionals currently involved in the theatre industry. It tries to find out, experientially, what methods contemporary directors are using and where they have learnt them, with particular attention to the traditions, often uncharted, which flow into their work through the training that their actors have received in drama schools. How each director or trainer balances physical image, text and musicality, is a recurrent question. MA directors will concurrently continue the practice of their accrued knowledge as they direct first-year undergraduates in post-war material. Part of the director's task is to support the post-war tutors in communicating the essential aspects of the various writers' output to the first-year students. This process, as in the Autumn term is assessed formatively by the MA tutor throughout the term. At the end of the Spring semester this culminates in their directing an hour long post-war extract with a larger group of actors. THIS MODULE IS FOR STUDENTS ON THE MA THEATRE DIRECTING:TEXT AND PRODUCTION ONLY.

LDCD7002B

20

DRAMA DISSERTATION/PRODUCTION

Students are required to write a dissertation of a length as specified in their MA Course Guide on a topic approved by the Course Director or other authorised person.

LDCD7005X

90

RESEARCH AND METHODOLOGY TRAINING SEMINAR

The 10 credit module is compulsory.

LDCD7004B

10

TEXT AND PRODUCTION: SCENE CLASS

The module comprises two elements. One consists of a weekly three hour tutorial in which we study various methods of directing via textual analysis. These include 'actioning', working with verse and language, Laban's effort analyses, status games and an introduction to Lecoq's physical methods. In these sessions we also become acquainted with some of the major theories of what the theatre is or could be - for example, those of Gordon Craig, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht and Peter Brooks, in relation to many The other part of the module is a series of 'scene-classes' in which MA students direct undergraduate students in rehearsed scenework. The process of directing the undergraduates, which requires an average of 6 additional hours per week of rehearsal, is also reviewed as a formative reflective exercise in the weekly tutorials.

LDCD7000A

20

Students will select 40 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits

ADAPTATION AND INTERPRETATION

Critical reading and creative writing meet in the activity of adapting a text in one medium for presentation in another. The module focuses on dramatic adaptation, establishing a foundation in basic theory and then focusing on readings or original works and screenings. Discussions probe the choices offered by original texts and explore the possibilities and limitations inherent in different dramatic forms. In the later sessions, students will have the opportunity to workshop an adaptation for a final project.

LDCC7010B

20

CREATIVE WRITING: SCRIPTWRITING: DRAMATURGY

This module is compulsory for all scriptwriting MA students, and is a co-requisite with Scriptwriting: Workshop 1 for full time students (part-time students must take Dramaturgy in the autumn of year 1, Workshop 1 in autumn of year 2, Scriptwriting: Process in spring of year 2). It may be taken as an option by non-Scriptwriting students, subject to a maximum enrolment of 16 students; some prior experience of dramatic writing is required. Dramaturgy is an advanced level study of dramatic theory, in four major performance media (theatre, film, television, radio). Weekly seminars build upon students' understanding of structure in dramatic narratives, character creation, temporal and spatial ordering. These are considered within the contexts of reception, cultural and industrial practice applicable to theatre, film, television and radio.

LDCC7007A

20

EAST ANGLIAN LITERATURE

Throughout the medieval and Early-Modern periods Norwich was one of England's most important cities - probably second only to London - and East Anglia one of the country's culturally liveliest and richest areas. This module explores the literature of these periods in its material contexts (the region's prosperity and power may still be seen in its architecture and in the rich holdings of its libraries and museums) and asks whether there was a specifically East Anglian cultural tradition. The module explores East Anglia's rich dramatic traditions, its devotional literature and practices (in orthodox forms and in those that brush against the heterodox), and, insistently, the manner in which its literature participates in its broader social and cultural worlds. The module is compulsory for students on the Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures MA but may also appeal to those with an interest in the cultural traditions of Norwich and East Anglia or, more generally, in the literature of place.

LDCE7002B

20

PUBLISHING - A PRACTICAL APPROACH

This module aims to give students an introduction to the modern publishing industry and a practical survival guide to the different functions involved in the publication of a book. As well as learning about the structure and economics of the British book industry, the opportunities and challenges of digitalization, students will engage with the process whereby books are chosen for publication, review principles of text and jacket design, practise basic copyediting and proofreading skills and learn tips for running a marketing and publicity campaign, writing 'blurbs' and press releases. The course will also touch on copyright law, finance and distribution. Students from the module are invited to join the core team producing the annual MA Creative Writing anthologies.

LDCC7012B

20

Disclaimer

Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject UK BA (Hons) 2.1 or equivalent
  • Special Entry Requirements Sample of work - see below

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 6.0 in each section and 7.0 in writing)
  • PTE (Pearson): 68 (minimum 55 in each section and 68 in writing)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

Special Entry Requirements

Applicants will need to provide a sample of written work (in English). This should be an essay, 2000 words to 3000 words long. It should be relevant to the course for which you are applying. Alternatively you could send us an essay that you have written for another purpose (eg, your undergraduate degree), or you could write something especially for this purpose. Your essay should demonstrate your ability to engage analytically, your familiarity with the conventions of academic writing, and your ability at writing in English.

Intakes

The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the Admissions Office directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2017/18 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,300
  • International Students: £14,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £820 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information relevant to the School of Literature and Creative Writing, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online.

Please note that the closing date for receipt of complete applications (including all documentation and references) is 31 March 2017. All complete applications received by that date will then be considered by the Course Director. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application as soon as possible after that date.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
Email: admissions@uea.ac.uk

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515