My 2nd Year Modules – OurWarwick
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My 2nd Year Modules

Olivia Kershaw
Olivia Kershaw | Theatre & Performance Studies Contact Olivia

Hello all! It’s the end of week 3 already and term is well underway.  Life has been predictably hectic, but I thought at this point it might be useful to give you a brief overview of the modules I am taking this academic year and what each involves.

Part of the beauty of the Theatre department here at Warwick is the fantastic scope of possibilities arising from our options. Some of my friends have chosen completely different sets of options to me & as a result we’re all pursuing slightly different paths through the degree programme. For example, some people have gone for a more hands-on, practical range of choices, others (myself included!) a rather more theory-led approach, and others a combination of both. So it’s important to stress that my options are very much specific to me – there’s plenty more on offer and choices can also vary year to year.

WRITING FOR THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE

This is a really good fun and creative module exploring techniques and approaches to playwriting. I’ve really enjoyed it up to now – before starting classes I was rather nervous, not having written a play before. However, the module is suitable for any level of experience & it’s structured really well to make it accessible for all of us. Rather than there being pressure to come up with something all at once and then share it, the sessions have focused on workshopping different skills and exercises, gradually producing short pieces of work-in-progress.  This building blocks approach is much less intimidating and I’ve found it hugely rewarding. There has been an opportunity to read aloud and share our work if we like at the end of each class, but equally there’s no pressure to do this if you don’t feel ready to present just yet. By the end of this year, we will all have penned a full length play, which is a daunting yet hugely exciting prospect!

MAD, BAD & SAD: MADNESS & CULTURAL REPRESENTATION

This is possibly the toughest option I’ve taken this year, but I’m glad of the extra challenge and the material we’re dealing with is really varied and fascinating. We’re overall looking at different ways in which ‘madness’ has been aestheticised in different forms such as theatre, film and live art, through time, and how that’s linked with evolving societal attitudes to and awareness of mental health issues. The content can be difficult at times, including a lot of sociology and philosophy, but this has given rise to some really thought-provoking debates in our seminars. Already, I think that some of the notions we’ve encountered relating to the portrayal of mental health are hugely important and I’m already learning and questioning so much the role theatre can have in constructing a dialogue on these vital issues. I’ll be very interested to see where this subject takes me as the year goes on.

THEATRE IN THE AFRICAN CONTEXT

African is running just for this term, and is probably the module furthest from my experience, dealing with a vast continent and a multiplicity of cultures, the majority of which I have very limited prior knowledge of.  In many ways, African theatre is also hugely different to the European dramatic tradition, being much more embodied, full of music, dance and physicalisation, which makes it challenging to study. However, I was determined to get out of my comfort zone in some way this year, and this option has definitely presented me with that opportunity. I can honestly say that, in the first few weeks of term, this has been my favourite weekly class. It’s nice to do something so different from usual and the plays/readings have been absolutely fascinating. We’re encouraged to get up on our feet, sometimes even singing and dancing a little, and this has really helped us engage with the true spirit of African theatre!

DRAMATURGY

This is a Spring module so I won’t be starting this until January. I am hoping it lives up to expectations as this was one of the subjects which particularly drew me to the course at Warwick. Most people outside our discipline think ‘dramaturgy’ is a rather curious name, which never ceases to make me smile! As I haven’t studied it yet, it is difficult for me to explain fully – however, based on what I already know; a dramaturg, as part of a production team, would carry out all the contextual and  background research specific to the play in question, from its literary composition and themes to the sociopolitical backdrop in which it was written. For our assessment we will be creating a study guide for a play which we have researched and investigated in depth. This is just up my street so I’m very much looking forward to it.

TEACHING SECONDARY DRAMA

Each year, we are allowed to take an elective external module from another department. The Education faculty offers a range of modules entitled ‘Warwick In Schools’ which allows undergraduates from any discipline to essentially branch out and gain experience teaching. Again, I don’t commence this subject until next term, but I will certainly be kept busy when I do – what with a seminar, workshop plus a work placement in a local/regional secondary school every week! We’ll be learning about pedagogical theory and strategies with the opportunity to put it all into application, which really is an invaluable experience. I’m excited to get going with this, as teaching drama in some capacity is something I’m really interested in pursuing in the future. Plus, it’ll be useful to experience life outside the context of university, when I go on my placement.

Olivia Kershaw
Olivia Kershaw | Theatre & Performance Studies Contact Olivia

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