Popular Performance - DR594

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 5 30 (15) DR O Double checkmark-circle


Students' learning will be organised around research-based performance projects. These will be
based on detailed examinations of particular popular performance genres (for example, variety theatre, slapstick, cabaret, pantomime, radio comedy). Initially, students develop relevant performance skills, which might include, for example, addressing an audience, developing a stage persona, dance skills, singing, and/or simple acrobatics. In addition to this, they will be set research tasks relevant to the particular genre they are studying. These tasks will lead towards a research essay. They will work independently on devising and rehearsing material related to both the research and the skills acquired in workshops, testing this material in front of an audience made up of other students on the module. Subsequently, they will develop their material to create a show in the style of the assigned popular performance genre, which will be performed to a public audience.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Contact Hours: 53
Private Study Hours: 247
Total Study hours: 300

Method of assessment

60% Performance in practical project
40% Research essay

Indicative reading

Appignanesi, L., The Cabaret, New Haven, Conn. & London: Yale University Press, 2004
Barker, C., 'The "Image" in Show Business', Theatre Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 29, Spring 1978, pp.7-11
Davis, J. (ed.), Victorian Pantomime, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
Double, O., Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre, Basingstoke ; New York : Palgrave
Macmillan, 2012
Foster, A. and Furst, S., Radio Comedy 1938-1968, London: Virgin, 1996
Jelavich, P., Berlin Cabaret, Cambridge, Mass. ; London : Harvard University Press, 1993
Staveacre, T., Slapstick: The Illustrated Story of Knockabout Comedy, London:Angus &
Robertson, 1987
Taylor, M., British Pantomime Performance, Bristol: Intellect, 2007
Took, B., Laughter in the Air (Revised Edition), London: Robson Books, 1981
Wilmut, R., Kindly Leave the Stage! The Story of Variety, 1919-1960, London: Methuen, 1985
Wright, J., Why Is that so Funny? A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy, Nick Hern Books,

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Demonstrate a range of performance, writing/devising, and production skills appropriate to the particular form of popular performance on which the module's assigned project is focused (e.g. variety theatre, slapstick, cabaret, pantomime, radio comedy).

- Create a performance within the idiom of the particular form, based on research.

- Analyse the particular form, drawing out some of the wider issues relating to popular performance.

- Demonstrate working knowledge of the particular form, and evidence of research skills.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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