First-Year Modules: Theatre and Performance Studies
Considering that for most people, the usual routine has been replaced by staying at home, it may be hard to imagine what life could be like studying Theatre and Performance Studies at Warwick University. There is plenty of useful information about the modules on the Warwick University website here – however, in this blog post, I’ll talk you through what each module is like from a student’s perspective.
Although some courses allow you to select your modules in first-year, if you’re a fresher studying single honours Theatre and Performance, you’ll study four core modules. Everyone doing the course comes from a range of backgrounds and all with different levels of experience, so the modules are designed to get everybody up to the same speed. I thought this worked well, as although it means you’ll likely cover some things that you’re familiar with already, the content generally gave me a more in-depth understanding of the topics we were studying, as well as catching me up on the topics that I hadn’t studied before.
Theatre and Performance in Context
If you’re more interested in the theory–based side of Theatre Studies like me, then I think that you’ll enjoy this module. Typically, teaching was split between a lecture in the Oculus Building and smaller seminars held afterwards in Milburn House. I found this really helpful, as the seminar afterwards allowed for a chance to ask any questions as well as build on what we had learned earlier. Overall, I found the teaching really engaging. There were a range of guest lecturers which kept things interesting, and plenty of discussions and debates that I found fun to listen to (and of course, partake in, if you’re a bit more confident that me…!) On an unrelated but equally important note – there is a café in the Oculus building that sells waffles, which is always fun to visit with some friends before lectures!
From Text to Performance
This was quite possibly my favourite module in first-year. The text that we focussed on was Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and even though it’s widely regarded as ‘the best’ of Shakespeare’s works, I’d never read, watched or studied the play before, and I usually struggle a bit with Shakespeare. However, the way that we approached the text made it accessible and interesting. Group assessments in Theatre Studies, as with any subject, will always have their ups and downs, and sadly no Uni experience is completely stress free, but when we were preparing for our practical assessments, I was really impressed by the support and advice we were given. We had supervised rehearsals where we received feedback on our ideas which I found especially beneficial, whether we were being taught new rehearsal techniques or if it was just to find out that I’d been pronouncing a word wrong the whole time. On the whole, I found the module really well organised and enjoyable.
Contemporary Performance Practices
In general, I’m the sort of person who prefers the theory side of studying Theatre and Performance, but that didn’t stop me from looking forward to our CPP workshops every week in term 2. In term 1, we didn’t have a class every week, but instead, we were given free theatre tickets to shows that we would then discuss during seminars. Being able to see different performance techniques and styles live definitely helped me develop my skills in time for the intensive workshops in term 2. In my case, during term 2 we had a practical workshop from 10:00 to 17:00 every Tuesday. 10 till 5 It may sound long at first, but there are plenty of breaks and enough time to head back to accommodation or over to the NAIC Café for lunch…! I found that was there was a great balance between focussed work but still having fun during these workshops, and as usual the teaching was very engaging.
During this module, we were again given the opportunity to see performances in the Warwick Arts Centre for free, which we would then review before the next class. Writing my own reviews as well as reading my classmates’ was something I thought was really beneficial, as well as finding it fun to see what everyone ese thought of what we had watched! Having taken English Literature and Media Studies at A-Level, the concept of analysing specific parts of performances wasn’t unfamiliar, but I found it interesting to be introduced to new ways of looking at performance, and the way that it can be applied to wider fields, for example, political performances. We also had the opportunity to hear from guest lecturers over skype and in person, which I enjoyed.
In term 1, we had a session on Monday mornings in which we had short seminars with a variety of people from all over the university, in order to help us build core skills or learn about important parts of Uni life. Although it’s not an assessed module, I’m grateful for having a set time where we were taught skills such as referencing, how to use the library, essay writing skills and more. As well as giving us information on the academic side of Uni life, there were also sessions with staff from wellbeing services, as well as library events to help with essay writing. The Monday morning time slot may have put some people off, but I really recommend going to these sessions as they made settling in a lot easier for me.
Throughout my first year, I took advantage of the optional tech sessions. The technical side of theatre making has never been my forte – and to be honest, I’m not sure how everyone managed to not rip my head off as I painstakingly tried to rig a spotlight correctly. However, these sessions were fun and informative, and even though I’m far from being a tech whizz, I could probably put together a basic sound and lighting design, which is more than I could do in September. Again, these sessions aren’t assessed in any way, but I really recommend them.
Looking back, I’ve been really impressed by the support that I was offered throughout my modules and in general this year, and it’s clear that all the Theatre and Performance Studies staff are passionate about what they teach. I’m looking forward to going back in September, and if you’re thinking of studying at Warwick next year, I hope that this blog helped you to see what your first–year modules could look like.