MA Theatre Directing: Text and Production
Whilst a Drama student at UEA, Greg James tried his hand as a presenter on UEA's radio station and went on to win 'best Make Presenter' at the Student Radio Awards. He presented his first show on radion 1 the day after his graduation ball. Where could your passion get you?Read It
"I am reliably told (by my employer) that I was employed in the role that I am now in, partly due to my MA and the focus of its study. My job has grown extensively in the past 6 years"
In their words
Teresa Zoers, MA Theatre Direction: Text and Production
After Hours is a new six-part comedy drama co-written by UEA graduates Molly Naylor and John Osborne. Based around an internet radio station, and starring Jaime Winstone and Ardal O’Hanlon, it is broadcast on Sky1 on Mondays at 9.30pm.Read It
UEA has announced the launch of the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), which contains the extensive personal archive of the Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing, and literary material from other prominent authors such as Naomi Alderman, Tash Aw, Malcolm Bradbury, Amit Chaudhuri, J.D. Salinger, Roger Deakin, Lorna Sage, WG Sebald and the playwright Snoo Wilson.Read It
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.
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.
MA Theatre Directing is divided into three phases of work and practice:
- Understanding and collaborating with actors and their craft
- Getting the bigger picture, conceptualising the production, using the space
- 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.
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.
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 2018/19 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.
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 2018/9
Students must study the following modules for 140 credits:
CONTEMPORARY THEATRE DIRECTING AND ACTOR TRAINING (WORKSHOPS WITH PROFESSIONALS)
In this module you'll consider the relationship between actor training and directing, via regular workshops with professionals currently involved in the theatre industry. With them, you'll explore, experientially, what methods contemporary directors are using and where they have learnt them, paying particular attention to the traditions which flow into their work through the training that actors receive in drama schools. How each director or trainer balances physical image, text and musicality, is a recurrent question. We will also acquaint ourselves with some of the major theories of what the theatre is, or could be - those, for example, of Meyerhold, Gordon Craig, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht and Peter Brooks. We will consider what playwrights themselves have contributed to a consideration of the relationship between word and image. In this context, Shakespeare, too, will be considered as an implicit 'director'. Here you will deepen your critical awareness of two modes of analysis of verse speaking which have been developed in this country since the founding of the RSC - 1) analysis in terms of speech-acts, and 2) analysis in terms of metre. We will also look for implicit stage directions in Shakespeare's texts, concerning movement and spatial composition. In parallel to this, you will be attending the Post-War module seminars and lectures, gaining a working appreciation of the Post-War canon. You will also continue the practice of your accrued knowledge, as you direct 1st year undergraduates in regular scenework. This process, though formative, rather than summative, is assessed throughout the first part of the Spring semester. At the end of the semester, this culminates in your directing an hour-long Post-War extract. Preparation for this will include selection and conceptualisation of a production-text, the editing of that text and the casting of the acting company. Weekly tutorial 3 hours, plus weekly Post-War lecture/seminars 3 x 2hours Average additional scene rehearsals, 6 hours Post-War production rehearsals evolve to become full-time for a maximum of two weeks during May
This module enables you to develop your own interests in greater depth in concentrated study on a topic agreed with the Course Director or other authorised person. Several alternatives to this exist, most popular of which is the dissertation/production, which is a minimum of an hour's length public performance, with all elements of stagecraft, technical and artistic responsibility taken by the student director and supervised by the module leader. Following the production and viva, you will produce a 2500 word critical-reflective essay as a commentary on your aims, research and rehearsal experience of the production.
RESEARCH AND METHODOLOGY TRAINING SEMINAR
This compulsory 10 credit module is the precondition for the production/dissertation which concludes the MA. You will be asked to pitch your idea and plan for research and development of the final production/dissertation. The department will collaborate with you to ensure that the project takes shape in a way which is deemed to be both feasible and artistically ambitious.
TEXT AND PRODUCTION: SCENE CLASS
The module comprises two elements. One consists of a weekly three hour tutorial in which you will study various methods of directing via Stanislavski-based textual analyses and an understanding of the actor's own vocabulary for what they do. This involves comparative critiques of established practitioners such as Katie Mitchell, Mike Alfreds, David Mamet and others. This tutorial also affords the opportunity to discuss the ongoing rehearsal and presentation of scenes, which is the second, integrated aspect of the module. This second part of the module integrates our work with that of the 2nd year undergraduate actors, in a day-long weekly class called The Actor and the Text. We will be studying 'actioning', objectives, intentions, the place of research; working with verse and language, Laban's effort analyses, status games and an introduction to Meisner's training exercises and to Lecoq's physical methods. These exercises become vocabularies to be utilised in your rehearsals of scenes with the actors. The module tutor will regularly attend and contribute to these scene rehearsals, the presentations of which are summatively assessed throughout the semester. Total 12 tutor contact hours per week, plus (average) 6 additional scene rehearsal hours per week.
Students will select 40 credits from the following modules:
ADAPTATION AND INTERPRETATION
Critical reading and creative writing collide when adapting a text for performance in another medium. The very process forces a string of questions: Is it possible to separate a story from its expression? What, if any, are the obligations owed to the source text? Must the adaptation always be 'secondary'? Can we define a 'good' adaptation? The questions only grow more interesting if we consider changes in reception and more complex when we alter era or cultural setting. This module focuses on key questions in dramatic adaptation, establishing a foundation in basic theory and then focusing on readings of source works and screenings or performances of adaptations. Seminar discussions probe the choices offered by original texts and explore the possibilities and limitations inherent in different forms. In the later sessions, you will have the opportunity to workshop an adaptation for a final project. Writers are expected to produce scripts, while theatre directors will have to option to produce a script or a performance. The module is a must for scriptwriters, but no prior scriptwriting experience is necessary as the seminars teach the basic techniques of dramatic writing. Class workshop will further develop skills in the specific dramatic forms.
CREATIVE WRITING: SCRIPTWRITING: DRAMATURGY
How does drama work? Dramaturgy explores dramatic theory across the media of theatre, film, television and radio, and attempts to find shared principles between them. Weekly seminars will develop your understanding of dramatic structure, character, time and space, the distinction between plot and story, as well as encouraging you to examine the dramatic forms in isolation. To achieve this we'll study a range of contemporary films and plays as well as classics, dip into radio and television and draw on a body of readings and theories. You'll find that the learning will be practical and reflective, and it will have direct applications for your work in drama whether as a writer or a director. You'll also have fun, with screenings, discussion and presentations. The module will end with you writing a comparative essay that draws on what we have studied, but it can also respond to dramas you love. Some prior experience of dramatic writing is useful for this module, but a love of drama is essential.
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. You will explore 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 ask whether there was a specifically East Anglian cultural tradition. You will explore 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.
POSTMODERNISM IN PERFORMANCE
This module interrogates the study of postmodernism in relation to theatre, performance and live art. Key theories relating to the emergence of the postmodern movement are studied alongside the work of practitioners. The module will examine some of the innovative work occurring in contemporary theatre and cultural practice, as well as study the influences upon contemporary artists from earlier modernist avant-garde work of Europe and the United States. These movements include Futurism, Dada, Constructivism and the 'neo-dada' Happenings and Fluxus movements in 1960s Europe and America and the study of contemporary postmodern performance groups and practitioners such as Forced Entertainment, The Wooster Group, Robert Wilson, SITI Company, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Need Company, and Le Page.
PROCESS AND PRODUCT IN TRANSLATION
Throughout this module you'll produce translations in conditions that encourage and facilitate reflection on the process and product of translation. You'll be encouraged to think experimentally, not only about the forms a finished translation might take, but also about the ways in which process might be incorporated into the translation. The module will have a workshop format and will culminate in a series of presentations of the projects on which you and your peers have chosen to work. In a series of sessions preceding the presentations you'll devote your time to the discussion and hands-on tackling of practical problems connected with translation and the projects ahead. You'll attend one class meeting at the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts and another at the Special Collections of the UEA Library. Throughout the semester you'll be encouraged to discuss a variety of texts, both critical and creative, that help illuminate the process and product of literary translation. You'll also be invited to circulate your own bibliographies (developed in relation to in-class presentations as well as the main project) to other members of the class, and to bring to our attention any text(s) you encounter that may be of particular relevance. Your final project will engage with the process of producing literary translation, and will comprise a scholarly discussion thereof illustrated by your own translations of a more or less experimental nature. The in-process project will be presented to the class for discussion and feedback in the second part of the semester.
PUBLISHING - A PRACTICAL APPROACH
Are you interested in how a book is selected for publication, in how to write for an online readership, or in learning how to edit? Whether you are a writer or a would-be publisher, this module will give you an introduction to the modern publishing industry and equip you with some of the practical skills involved in the successful publication of texts. As well as becoming acquainted with the structure and economics of the contemporary publishing world, the opportunities and challenges posed by digitalisation, you will examine the process whereby books are chosen by literary agents and publishers, review principles of text and jacket design, acquire basic copyediting and proofreading skills, learn tips for publicising books online, write jacket 'blurbs' and press releases. You will also engage with the principles and practice of blog-writing, with copyright law and aspects of publishing finance. In recent years speakers such as Chris Hamilton-Emery from Salt, Philip Gwyn Jones of Scribe, Rosie Sherwood of art-publisher Elbow Room and Eloise Wales of The Literary Platform have addressed the seminars. We have examined correspondence between authors and publishers in the UEA Archive of Contemporary Writing, visited the Jarrold's Print Museum in Norwich and the London International Book Fair. Towards the end of the module you will also have to opportunity to become involved in the editing of the annual MA Creative Writing anthologies. Assessment is by formal essay OR creative-critical assignment such as a literary blog.
TELEVISION AND SOCIETY
For nearly a century television has been the dominant global cultural force. Despite newer technological innovations, such as the internet, television remains a medium consumed by billions. Its social and cultural impacts are profound, and in this module you will examine the relationships between television and society. Key to engaging with this idea is exploring the purposes to which television has been used. A highly-regulated medium, in many countries it is mandated with fulfilling social purposes, such as educating citizens or serving to bring nations together. Why has television been given these roles, when most other cultural forms haven't, and what implications does this have? You will study a wide range of television's output in order to unearth how its social purposes play out in the kinds of things it broadcasts. To do this you will explore key ideas for thinking about television's representations, such as the conventions of particular genres, or debates about realism and naturalism. You will develop skills in textual analysis, with the purpose of identifying television's social functions via its texts. The module will enable you to engage with ongoing and persistent real-world debates about the impacts of culture generally, and the purposes of television in particular. It will develop your critical and analytical skills, situating these squarely within culturally-specific debates.
DisclaimerWhilst 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. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.
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- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
InterviewsInterviews for candidates shortlisted for our September 2018 intake will take place in April/May 2018.
Telephone/Skype interviews are only possible for overseas students.
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.
The School's annual intake is in September of each year.
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 for the academic year 2018/19 are:
- UK/EU Students: £7,550
- International Students: £15,800
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 £1,015 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 16 April 2018.
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
International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.
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.
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