Theatre and Adaptation - DRAM6850

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Margherita Laera checkmark-circle


Recent theatrical productions as diverse in form as experimental performance, new writing, musicals and live art have shown a recurring fascination with adapting existing works by other artists, writers, filmmakers and stage practitioners. The transition of an existing source or stimulus to the stage – be it film, book, play, artwork, or other performance – is not a smooth one. It implies negotiations of numerous kinds, such as interlingual and intercultural, but also ideological, ethical, aesthetic and political. Drawing on the work of contemporary international theatre-makers, this module will explore specific approaches to stage adaptation, study adaptation methodologies and develop an understanding of the implications of adaptation. Through seminar discussions, practical and creative work, the module will prompt a reflection on performance's near-obsessive desire to return, rewrite and repeat, establishing a dialogue across languages and cultural identities.

During lectures, students will study several adaptation projects and strategies, which will form the basis for an essay. During seminars, students will experiment with a source of their choice and produce a simple, tech-light group performance based on this source, for which they need to be able to rehearse in the classroom, without any technical assistance. The presentation of the group performance will be followed by a reflective essay on the chosen source and its afterlife, an analysis of the group's performance, and any other supporting material. The students are expected to keep their performance time and tech to a minimum, and will not be provided with technical support or extra rehearsal space for this module.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Research essay (2500 words) (50%)
Group performance (20 minutes) (50%)

Reassessment methods:
Like for Like

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Aragai, Mireia, Books in motion adaptation, intertextuality, authorship (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005)
Babbage, Frances, Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre: Performing Literature (London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2017)
Baines, Roger, Cristina Marinetti and Manuela Perteghella, eds, Staging and Performing Translation (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011)
Barnette, Jane, Adapturgy: The Dramaturg's Art and Theatrical Adaptation (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2017)
Carlson, Marvin, The Haunted Stage (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001)
Carroll, Rachel, ed., Adaptation in Contemporary Culture: Textual Infidelities (London: Continuum, 2009)
Cutchins, Dennis, et al., eds, The Routledge Companion to Adaptation (London: Routledge, 2018)
Hutcheon, Linda, A Theory of Adaptation (London: Routledge, 2006)
Laera, Margherita, Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013)
Laera, Margherita, Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2014)
Leitch, Thomas M, Film Adaptation and its Discontents (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2007)
Massai, Sonia, ed., World-wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance (London; New York: Routledge, 2005)
O'Toole, Emer, et al, Ethical Exchanges in Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2017)
Reilly, Kara, ed., Contemporary Approaches to Adptation in Theatre (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
Sharon Friedman, Feminist Theatrical Revisions of Classic Works: Critical Essays (Jefferson, N.C.; London: McFarland, 2009).
Sanders, Julie, Adaptation and Appropriation (London: Routledge, 2006)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Assess and compare devising methodologies and aesthetic principles of selected practitioners and/or companies whose work explores adaptation in performance (in written work).
2 Apply acquired knowledge of devising methodologies and aesthetic principles of selected practitioners and companies (in practical work).
3 Analyse the aesthetic, cultural, political and ethical implications of the adaptation work of both professional practitioners/companies and the students' own practices (in both written and practical work).
4 Discuss critical issues encountered in class in relation to adaptation and adaptation studies (in written work) and apply this knowledge in practice (in practical work).
5 Engage critically and creatively with a source in order to formulate nuanced plans and ideas for performance projects that are based on, and/or respond to, an existing work or material, with particular attention to the target context (in practical work).
6 Plan and manage independent research tasks as a group and individually (in written and practical work)

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1 Reflect critically upon the different ways in which the theory and practice of performance inform one another.
2 Develop a complex model for the relationship between performance, dramatic literature and theatrical practices and their social and historical contexts.
3 Use performance and devising skills for the independent practice of theatre and performance.
4 Develop a personal perspective that can be expressed in terms of performance and communicated with clarity and coherence.


  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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