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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: ACTM004 Module Title: CONTEXTUAL PRACTICE
Module Provider: Guildford School of Acting Short Name: ACTM004
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: FENDER T Ms (GSA)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Autumn and Spring Terms
Assessment Pattern
Unit(s) of Assessment Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
Continuous feedback on rehearsal process

Term 1: 20th Century Theatre
Process: 50%
Performance 50%


Term 2: Heightened Text
Process: 30%
Performance 70%


Qualifying Condition(s) 
A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module.
Module Overview
Contextual Practice enables students to apply developing techniques to practical rehearsal work, firstly on an early 20th Century text and then on to two examples of heightened text.  The module will engage with the specific disciplines of genre and style and will be delivered via committed ensemble practice.  It will facilitate the development of a structured and effective rehearsal technique, underpinned by both practice-based and academic research.  Students will develop the ability to analyse and interrogate dramatic text and to identify, evaluate and process character information and objectives within an historical context.  They will integrate their acting, vocal and physical skills whilst exploring  situation, character, relationship, motivation and previous circumstance.  They will develop their sense of stagecraft and connect to the disciplines and opportunities of space in performance as well as learning to communicate complex information with originality and coherence to each other and to the audience.  Assessment will be based on performance of the assigned scenes and individual contribution to process.


Module Aims
• To apply advanced psycho-physical acting techniques, textual analysis and contextual research to a rehearsed performance project
• To provide experience of acting in a range of differing texts
• To enable the necessary integration of appropriate vocal and physical skills to create a vibrant and articulate performance within an historical context.
• To inculcate a sophisticated understanding of the disciplines, rigours and opportunities contained within the notion of committed ensemble practice
Learning Outcomes
• The ability to analyse a performance text, to make creative and relevant choices  and to communicate these effectively with an audience
• The ability to demonstrate the practical application of theory through performance
• The application of integrated techniques in the creation of a believable, original and appropriate character
• The ability to adapt physical and vocal techniques in accordance with period, context, style and genre.
• The ability to demonstrate a professional level of ensemble practice
Module Content
Contextual Practice begins with a project based on an early or mid 20th century playwright such as Chekhov or Rattigan, which enables students to investigate an acting process based on psychological realism.  The rehearsal process will involve the utilisation of character and contextual research produced in Contextual Methodologies and will also embrace developing techniques from Modules 1 and 2.  Rehearsals will consist of improvisations, individual and group exercise as well as intensive work on text.  Students will consider the implications and opportunities of characters that are defined by action and text, the role of the super-objective, the importance of activities, the specifics of relationships and obstacles.  Students will test out their preparation strategies in order to meet the challenges of appropriate performance energy and emotional availability.  Students will learn strategies to maximise the creative potential in working with others and will be inducted into the rigours of creative ensemble practice.  

In the second term students will work on one or more examples of heightened text, thus increasing their exposure and subsequent understanding of the differing demands of style and genre.  Texts may be classical or contemporary and may include such examples as Shakespeare, the Greeks, Racine, Jacobean or more contemporary writers such as Sarah Kane or Howard Barker.  This enables the integration of the more complex vocal and physical techniques then being addressed in Modules 1 and 2 and is supported by the contextual research and analysis procedures set up in Module 3.

There will be two separate showings of this work to an invited audience.
Methods of Teaching/Learning
Rehearsal workshops
Group and Individual structured improvisations
Group and Individual tutorials
Selected Texts/Journals

Required Reading
Barton, J. Playing Shakespeare (London: Methuen, 1984)
Congreve, W. The Way of the World and other plays (London:Penguin,2006)
Crystal, D & Crystal B. Shakespeare’s Words: A Glossary and Language Companion (London: Penguin, 2002)
Frayn,  M & Chekhov, A.  Chekhov Plays (London: Methuen, 1988)
Kenneally, B. Euripides’ The Trojan Women (London: Bloodaxe, 1994)
Kenneally, B. Euripides’ Medea (London: Bloodaxe, 1992)
Kermode, F. Shakespeare’s Language (London: Penguin, 2001)
Proudfoot, R, Thompson, A & Kastan, D.C (eds.) The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works (London: Arden Shakespeare, 2001)

Recommended Reading
Adler, S. Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov (Vintage 2000)
Aitken, M & Callow, S. Acting in Restoration Comedy (London: Applause, 2000)
Barker, H. Collected Plays: Volume Two (New York: Riverrun Press, 1993)
Berkoff, S. Collected Plays 1 (London: Faber & Faber, 2000)
Blake, N.F. The Language of Shakespeare. (London: Macmillan 1983)
Bulman, James C. ed. Shakespeare, Theory and Performance. (London: Routledge, 1996)
Chekhov, A, ed. Bartlett, R Anton Chekhov, A Life in Letters (London: Penguin, 2004)
Chekhov, A. Lady With The Little Dog & Other Stories (London, Penguin, 2002)
Escolme, Bridget. Talking to the Audience. (London: Routledge, 2005)
Kane, S Sarah Kane Complete Plays (London: Methuen, 2001)
Kastan, David Scott, and Peter Stallybrass, eds. Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama. (London: Routledge, 1991)
Kott, J. Shakespeare Our Contemporary (London: Methuen, 1968)
Pennington, Michael. Hamlet, A User’s Guide. (London: Nick Hern Books, 1996)
Pinter, H,  Complete Works (London: Grove Press, 1994)
Rutter, C. Clamorous Voices: Shakespeare’s Women Today (London: The Women’s Press, 1988)
Shapiro, J. A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare:1599 (London: Faber & Faber, 2005)
Styan, J.L. Shakespeare’s Stagecraft. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967)
---. Restoration Comedy in Performance. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986)
Thomson, Peter. Shakespeare’s Theatre. 2nd Ed. (London: Routledge, 1992)
White, Martin. Renaissance Drama in Action: An Introduction to Aspects of Theatre Practice and Performance. (London: Routledge, 1998)

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