European Theatre from 1945: From Beckett to Postdramatic Theatre - DR669

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


The module will introduce some central developments in non-English language (Continental) European theatre since the Second World War. Students will study new approaches to writing for the theatre, and to staging work, read some landmark plays and debate aesthetic developments in their social, historical and political contexts. The journey will take us from the Theatre of the Absurd (Beckett, Genet), via new forms of Political Theatre in the post-war era (Brecht, Peter Weiss) and new explorations to extend drama to physical and affective means of staging (as in the work of Tadeusz Kantor and Pina Bausch) to eventually arrive at Post-dramatic Theatre (Heiner Müller, Elfriede Jelinek), and contemporary plays that reflect a post-migrational Europe of the twenty-first century (for instance in the works of Jonas Hassen Khemiri and Chokri Ben Chikha).


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 40
Private study hours: 260
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (2000 words) (340%)
Essay 2 (3000 words) (540%)
Presentation (20%).

Indicative reading

Beckett, Samuel (2006), The Complete Dramatic Works. London: Faber & Faber
Bradby, David (1991), Modern French Drama, 1940-1990. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Esslin, Martin (2001), The Theatre of the Absurd. 3rd ed.. London: Methuen.
Genet, Jean (1997): The Balcony. London: Faber & Faber.
Jelinek, Elfriede (2017), Charges/The Supplicants. Trans. Gita Honegger. London: Seagull Books.
Müller, Heiner (1984), Hamletmachine and other texts for the stage. Trans. Carl Weber. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications.
Lehmann, Hans-Thies (2006), Postdramatic Theatre. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- demonstrate a critical understanding of major contemporary innovations in European playwriting and performance practice of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries;
- demonstrate knowledge of key European playwrights and theatre makers and their relationship to experimental theatre traditions;
- demonstrate understanding of cultural, philosophical and historical contexts in which these plays/productions originated;
- demonstrate an understanding of the performance possibilities of a variety of non-realistic approaches to playwriting and theatre-making;
- demonstrate familiarity with aspects of cultural and linguistic translation of non-English theatre texts.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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