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BA World Performance

Southend Campus
  • Practical skills in global performance techniques
  • Visiting international practitioners
  • Opportunities for study overseas

BA World Performance is a creative and challenging course combining practical performance skills with an exploration of global performance traditions. You study theatre, dance-drama, masks, music and dance from across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, while simultaneously developing skills in media, writing, performing and directing.

Throughout the course you devise, research, create and perform projects reflecting the range of influences and styles encountered. This helps you to develop skills and experience that take you beyond the definition of the “professional actor” in the traditional sense.

Your first year provides a foundation of performance and study skills, and introduces a range of cultural influences and performance possibilities. This includes:

  • Exploring Western performance practices in world context
  • Developing knowledge of different performance traditions across the globe
  • Studying the role of music in world performance
  • Experimenting with your own performance interests and abilities


Western theatre in context

This module provides you with a grounding in the development of the Western Theatre, and approaches to studying and analysing theatre movements and events in their specific cultural contexts. It includes a survey of Western Theatre practice from Ancient Greece to the present day, and an introduction to key concepts in Interculturalism (Patrice Pavis) and Theatre Anthropology (Eugenio Barba).

You deepen your knowledge of three areas of work on the module through essays, prepared in the Autumn and Spring Terms, and a research project presented at the end of the Summer Term.

Ancient Greek and Roman theatres

An examination of the rise and development of the theatre in the context of religious, social and political life in Ancient Greece; the development of the Ancient Roman theatre from Greek practices.

Medieval religious theatre

An examination of British and continental theatres focussing on the influence of the church, for example the Miracle Plays, the Mystery Plays, and early Allegorical works. This unit also introduces the approach of Eugenio Barba (theatre anthropology) as a way of describing and understanding the theatre event.

Commedia dell’Arte

A study of the key features and the development of the Commedia tradition.

Renaissance theatre: playhouses

A study of key practitioners (eg Shakespeare, Molière, Calderon de la Barca, Corneille, Lope de Vega), in the period 1570 – 1700, focussing on the development of dedicated public and private theatre-spaces in England, France, and Spain, and the opera-houses of Italy.

18th- and 19th-century European theatres: manners and models

A study of the developing theatres of England, France, Italy, and Germany which catered to polite society and a cultural elite. Includes a study of the development of Opera and Ballet, of the Well-Made Play, and of the rapidly changing relationship between performance space, playwright, and spectator.

18th- and 19th-century European theatres: popular forms

A study of the broad range of performance forms accessible to audiences of working people in the period, with an emphasis on travelling shows, puppetry, circus, Music Hall and Vaudeville. This unit also introduces Interculturalism (with specific reference to Pavis) and its applicability to the movement and adaptation of practices and ideas between different cultural groups in a society.


An examination of the blossoming of Theatrical Realism in the late 19th century, with particular attention to Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw, and Strindberg; and the returns to Realism in theatre practice throughout the 20th century (e.g. John Osborne, Arthur Miller, Langston Hughes).

Avant-Garde theatres of the 20th century

A study of key practitioners working outside Realist traditions, for example, Artaud, Cocteau, Wedekind, Kaiser, Pirandello, Beckett, Ionesco, Weiss, etc.

Post-war theatre 1: the director

An examination of key directors from the period 1950 – present (e.g. Bertolt Brecht, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine, Jerzy Grotowski, Jacques Le Coq, Peter Hall, Peter Sellars, etc) to understand the role of the director in shaping the contemporary theatre.

Post-war theatre 2: the performer

An examination of key performers and performance-led companies from the period 1950 – present (e.g. Olivier and Barrault, Complicite, DV8 Physical Theatre, Joint Stock, Pina Bausch, etc) to understand the role of the performer in shaping the contemporary theatre.

Performance skills

This module includes training and preparation in Voice, Singing, and Movement. You are introduced to the safe and healthy development and use of the voice and body in performance; to the creative and interpretative applications of different techniques and capacities of the voice and body; and to vocabularies relevant to vocal and movement work.

The skills module offers you the opportunity to encounter and master basic performance skills which underpins your work as performers and creators of work in the rest of the degree. Together with the Study Skills module, it is a foundation, preparing you for the final two years of the course.


Warm-up and preparation techniques

This unit teaches and practises a range of sound techniques for preparing the body and voice for performance or class work.

Anatomy and physiology for the performer

Offers an overview of the basic science underlying movement and vocal production.

Vocal skills

The development of your vocal capability, with attention to fitness, breathing, and clarity; and a study of the ways in which the speaking voice may be used creatively in performance.


The development of your singing voice, allied to vocal skills (above). Exploration of individual singing range and introduction to ensemble and harmony skills and basic music theory. Development of individual singing warm-ups.


Development of your fitness, balance, and body-awareness, and a study of the creative use of movement in performance.

World theatre studies


No module information currently available.

Music and world performance

This module includes an overview of some of the uses of music in Western and non-Western performance forms; workshops in music-making and use of the singing voice as part of performance in two or three selected forms; and a staff-led group practical performance assessment in a chosen musical form. The emphasis is on the development and deployment of your own musical skills, rather than on collaboration with musicians.

Western musical performance

May include an examination of opera, music hall, choral performance, the Broadway musical, etc. Study is through both lectures and workshop sessions.

Asian musical performance

May include study of, for example, Gamelan, Kabuki, Noh, Kathakali, Chinese Opera, etc. Study is through both lectures and workshop sessions.

African or South American musical performance

May include the study of, for example, African drumming, Samba, Calypso, etc. Study is through both lectures and workshop sessions.

Performance project

A group practical project, led by a tutor, which allows you to develop, select, and apply musical elements in a specific performance form.

For your second year you concentrate on a range of case studies that allow you to develop knowledge of different traditions, approaches and issues in world performance. In addition you have opportunities to:

  • Develop and apply high-level performance skills
  • Work with visiting practitioners in non-Western or intercultural performance forms
  • Undertake a major performance
  • Carry out and present independent research


Ritual and religious performance

This module uses phenomenological and anthropological approaches to defining and analysing ritual and its relationship to performance in a range of world contexts, including performance practices from a variety of cultural and historical backgrounds which arise from or form part of religious observance.

As well as an overview of key instances of ritual or religious performance, the module offers you the chance to explore in depth one or two such forms of performance, with specific attention to the interaction of performer and audience, and the issues of performer training and community participation. The module includes workshops and classes to develop your performance skills as relevant to the specific case studies.

Defining ritual in and as performance

Building on Year One work in Theatre Anthropology, and introducing the work of Richard Schechner, a consideration of the ritual roots of much World Performance and the interpretative implications of this complex interrelation.

Case study one: sacred performance

An examination and practical exploration of one or two performance forms situated within or arising from an explicitly sacred context (eg Balinese Temple Dance, Ancient Greek tragedy, African spirit dance, Native American hunting dance, etc).

Case study two: ritualised performance

A study, including particular attention to training methods, of one or two performance forms in which recognisable ritual is a major element of both the creation and the spectation of the work (eg Noh Theatre, Chinese Opera, Carnival, Javanese Shadow Puppetry, etc).

Group practical project

Working under the guidance of tutors and in groups of four or five, students create a short ritual or religion influenced presentation, demonstrating understanding and skills derived from one of the case studies.

Media and theatre production skills

This module introduces hands-on skills in camera use and editing as well as writing for the camera. In addition, you receive an introduction to stage management and production skills and an introduction to the basic principles of lighting for performances. You learn in workshop and studio settings. The module emphasises an understanding of the technical processes underlying your own practical work.

The module includes the development and production of a short film (3-5 minutes long) from conception, to final completion of script, shooting of the script and post-production (editing) of the film for final screening. It also includes workshops in stage management and lighting, leading to a technical analysis of a theatrical production.


The module engages you in a study of two or three mask-based performance forms, with an overview of interpretative and performative issues in mask work.


No module information currently available.

Non-western character acting

This module offers a theoretically-informed study of manifestations of character role types in performance, exploring cultural prescriptions and attitudes in relation to character and performance in a variety of social and historical contexts, and case studies of two or three performance forms where character role types are highlighted (eg Kabuki, Chinese opera). There is specific attention to performance skills appropriate to the case-studies.

Visiting artist

This module offers you a unique opportunity to undertake an intensive case-study, working with visiting practitioners in workshops, research, and performance. The content naturally varies according to the visiting artists but will typically be either a non-Western or an Intercultural approach or performance form.


Seminar and workshop sessions, supported by your own independent research, to introduce the specific context of the visiting company’s work.


Practical workshops with members of the visiting company, supported by East 15 tutors where appropriate, to develop your performance skills and to create the assessed performance.


This module offers you an exploration of different manifestations of Comedy, through case-studies of two or three comic performance forms, including verbal and physical comedy, from a range of cultural backgrounds.

You gain an understanding of the universality of comedy across multiple cultures through one or two case studies. The emphasis is on the understanding, development, selection, and application of performance skills.

Your third year allows you to undertake a series of major independent group performance projects. These help to develop your skills and your understanding of collaborative work, while giving you freedom to pursue your own aesthetic, intellectual and professional interests.

In addition to undertaking further research study, we help you to develop personal management skills and entrepreneurial awareness to prepare you for professional life after you graduate.


Applied and political theatres

This module engages you in the study of performance practitioners and forms (eg Boal, Brecht, Ancient Greek theatre, Agit-Prop, Worker’s Theatre, Feminist Theatre, etc) which have an intended application beyond the entertainment of paying audiences by professional practitioners. The module includes an overview of such practice, and case studies of three such practitioners or forms.

Overview: theatre and society

A survey of forms of theatre and performance which refuse to be, or seek to be more than, entertainment and has agendas beyond the aesthetic.

Case study one: compulsory theatre

An in-depth study of one form (eg Ancient Greek theatre festivals, Passion Plays, initiation rituals) in which the performance is an essential event in the life of the community that produces it.

Case study two: engaged practitioners

An in-depth study of one form (eg Brecht, Agit-Prop Theatre) in which practitioners stage for an audience material with an explicitly radical socio-political content.

Case study three: engaging the audience

An in-depth study of one form (eg Boal’s Forum Theatre, Invisible Theatre, or Theatre of the Oppressed, Worker’s Theatre, 1960s ‘Happenings’) which rely for their effect on the active involvement and participation of the spectator.

Devised project

You work independently (with access to tutors for advice and feedback during the process) to create an original, 30-minute performance drawing on two or more of the issues, themes or practices studied in the course of the degree; the preparation process is monitored and assessed through the Professional Preparation module.

Rehearsals and production meetings

By negotiation, tutors attend rehearsals and production meetings to support, guide and advise you. The majority of rehearsal time is untutored.


Performance of the finished piece for an audience. Tutors offer feedback to inform your reflection on the finished work.

Intercultural performance project

No module information currently available.

Professional preparation

This module focuses on and assists your preparation for the devised performance projects and entering the world of work beyond the degree. It included seminars in business, entrepreneurial and legal issues for performance practitioners and workshops with practitioners. The module is assessed through the individual Personal Portfolio.


Seminars on promotion, funding, legal issues and entrepreneurship for performance practitioners.


Skills workshops with directors, designers, producers and theatre practitioners designed to build on or expand skills, knowledge and understanding both in order to contribute to the devised performance work and to assist in career planning.