Introduction to Mask and Puppetry - DRAM3480

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 4 30 (15) Angie Varakis-Martin checkmark-circle


The aim of this course is to give students an understanding of a variety of practices, theory and historical contexts of masks and puppets in performance. By learning about different practices the students will develop a sense of the function and potential of objects in performance and training, as well as develop their own performance skills.

Screenings/lectures provide theoretical lenses and will focus on key practitioners and their historical, cultural and theatrical contexts. Practical workshops will deliver making skills and explore making performance, including instruction on diverse practical approaches to puppetry and/or mask work, rehearsal technique and supervised rehearsals. Students will be invited to explore beyond their assumptions and performance experience and will be introduced to the idea of play and risk as key components of the rehearsal process. Regular opportunities to present work and demonstrate understanding are built into the structure of the class. They will also reflect and feed back on the work of their peers.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 56
Private study hours: 244
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Group Performance (40%)
Critical reflection (1500 words) (20%)
Essay (2,000 words) (40%)

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Bell, J. (ed) (2001) Puppets, masks, and performing objects. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Eldredge, S. A. (1996) Mask improvisation for actor training and performance: The compelling image. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press
Emigh, J. (1996) Masked Performance: The play of self and other in ritual and theatre. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
Francis, P. (2012) Puppetry: a reader in theatre practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Posner, D. and Orenstein, C. (2015) The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance. London: Routledge.
Wilsher, T. (2006) The Mask Handbook: A Practical Guide. London: Routledge.

Learning outcomes

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

1 Demonstrate an understanding of some key approaches to mask and puppetry, including a mixture of Western and non-Western traditions
2 Demonstrate practical understanding of mask and/or puppet making and show a foundation in performance and rehearsal skills.
3 Undertake the making of performance and reflect upon it.
4 Communicate an understanding of the role of masks, puppets and objects in performer training.
5 Communicate an understanding of key concepts in mask, puppetry and object theatre, and a knowledge of both past and contemporary practitioners in their relevant contexts.

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

1 Communicate complex ideas to others
2 Manage projects, including health and safety issues within specified resource and time constraints
3 Use research skills, including use of Library resources and the internet, and demonstrate broad awareness and knowledge of research materials available to them
4 Work collaboratively with others
5 Reflect critically on their performance, learning and experience, and give appropriate feedback on the work of others using appropriate terminology
6 Demonstrate essay planning and academic writing skills


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage 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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