Theatre

Physical Acting - MA

Are you interested in physical actor training, and performance-making that uses the body and movement as a starting point? Our MA Physical Acting will help you develop your artistic voice by diving into this specialist aspect of theatre practice. Within a supportive environment you will test your creative ideas through solo work and ensemble projects, extending your networks and industry knowledge through study.

Overview

This challenging practice-based course offers a unique approach to performing and making, emphasising innovation, experimentation and imagination. You will engage in physical and vocal training processes for actors, acting processes for performers, autonomous and collaborative practice, and interdisciplinary approaches.

The course also gives you the ability to reflect on your practice, provides you with industry knowledge of fundraising and marketing, and gives you the opportunity to develop a portfolio with which to launch into professional artistic work.


Why study Physical Acting at Kent?

A range of expertise

You will benefit from working with internationally respected physical theatre and training specialists such as Dr Roanna Mitchell and Professor Paul Allain, and being able to draw on the Department’s expertise in participatory dance theatre (Moving Memory); autism, identities and creativity (Playing A/Part); Chekhov technique in and beyond theatre (The Chekhov Collective UK); projects linked to the European Theatre Research Network; performance opportunities offered by the Gulbenkian Theatre; and more.

A supportive creative community

Drama at Kent develops and supports arts professionals, both through our programmes and our Graduate Theatre Company Scheme. We celebrate our alumni’s achievements and contributions to the arts and communities, including Olivier Award winners, companies leading in inclusive practice, internationally recognised playwrights and actors, industry-shaping producers, and more. You can hear from our alumni via our ProperJob Gradcast, the podcast that asks how Kent Drama alumni have built their careers as artists.

A vibrant academic network

Postgraduate Drama and Theatre studies at Kent is a vibrant hub for the development and supervision of creative practice and research. We encourage postgraduate students to use our close links and contacts with local, national and international theatre companies, venues, artists and research projects, to enhance their research and professional development.

Our staff of leading and emerging researchers and practitioners has an excellent reputation for research and supervision in contemporary performance practice, community/participatory performance, arts and health, comedy and popular performance, theatre and conflict, Shakespeare, and European theatre.

Excellent facilities

The School of Arts’ award-winning Jarman Building offers professional standard drama facilities, two performance studios and Studio 3 Gallery along with social spaces and a dedicated centre for postgraduate students. Drama & Theatre facilities also include two further theatre spaces – the 113-seat Aphra Theatre and the Lumley Theatre, an adaptable studio space – further rehearsal facilities in Eliot College, a construction workshop and costume collection.

Drama and Theatre at Kent

Postgraduate Drama and Theatre studies at Kent has a very strong reputation for research and supervision in contemporary performance processes, applied performance and European theatre.

The wide-ranging interests of our international team of leading and emerging researchers (from the UK, Australia, Greece, Germany and other countries) also include research strengths in Shakespeare, 18th-century theatre, multimedia performance, and in the history of comedy and popular performance.

Our distinctive focus at Kent is on theatre as practice, whatever the topic, area, mode and methodology of research, and we encourage postgraduate students to make use of our close links and contacts with local, national and international (especially European) theatre companies, venues, schools and artists, both for research and to encourage professional postgraduate development.

What our students say

'The Physical Acting MA was an exceptional learning experience both academically and practically. I learnt a lot about body movement, energy, and rhythm. Because of this I am now starting my own physical theatre company which is the first in my country.' Sami Saad, Theatre Practitioner from Kuwait

'This MA helped me to grow as both an actor and theatre maker. In focusing on solo performance you can learn so much about what you can give as a performer and where you can develop - the staff are attentive and invested in this as well. Training is extremely important for any performer and the course provides the skills to go on and create work that challenges and excites.' Katharine Hardman, Co-Artistic Director Entita Theatre

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path or who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Your application should include a sample of your academic writing. Ideally this will be an essay, on a similar or related topic, that you have recently written as part of your undergraduate degree programme. Please upload this to your application portal.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: 1 year full-time

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

Compulsory modules currently include

This module directs students to investigate and develop physical and vocal actor training techniques. It is designed to complement the other modules on the Physical Acting Specialism by providing synergies between training and performance applications, with the objective of linking process with product.

Students will work practically in tutor-led workshops and independently. In addition to their theatre-based work, students will be expected to practise and document other forms of training practices (e.g. dance classes, martial arts, sports), and incorporate this work in their end of term assessments.

The module includes three Contextual Seminars with a focus on the theory, ethics, and history of actor training.

Find out more about DRAM8000

This spring term module is aimed at developing advanced skills in collaborative training and the composition, rehearsal, and performance of an ensemble theatre piece. Through practical study, students will engage in ensemble training and work collaboratively to identify a starting point, generate physical and vocal scores, and construct and act a performance score. Students will also engage with ethical, historical and cultural contexts of ensemble practice through a set of discussion-based seminars.

Students will document the ongoing group work as an integral part of the compositional process; they will comment and reflect on their work as collaborative artists involved in an autonomous practice.

Find out more about DRAM8001

This module is aimed at developing advanced skills in the composition, rehearsal, and performance of a solo theatre piece. Students will identify a starting point, generate physical and vocal scores, and construct and act a performance score. The module will be complemented by the autumn workshop and seminar sessions of DRAM8910 Physical and Vocal Training for Actors. Students will document the ongoing work as an integral part of the compositional process and be encouraged to link training process with artistic result.

Find out more about DRAM8950

This module explores the interconnectedness between academic research and professional practice in theatre and performance. Students explore research questions through work-based learning or through an in-depth study of an individual or company operation This can take the form of either a work placement or a report that should draw on first hand generation of research material such as through interviews. Students will analyse an individual or company operation and observe how the skills and knowledge learned are applied and put into practice within the business.

Topics covered in class will typically include basic theatre industry knowledge for emerging artists, such as theatre funding structures, fundraising strategies, writing grant applications, casting mechanisms, CV/personal statement writing, basic marketing, basic budgeting.

Find out more about DRAM8990

Compulsory modules currently include

Throughout their studies on a taught Masters-course, students will elect to develop and pursue an academic or creative project into a specific topic related to the field of study, thus increasing their potential as appropriate for a postgraduate degree. They will also develop their creative voice as a theatre practitioner, their ability to contextualise and analyse their own creative practice. Students will start shaping and preparing their project ideas supported by mandatory seminars in academic writing, research skills and resources, and practice as research (PaR). Students will present their work in progress in Summer Term at a Postgraduate Work in Progress Conference organised by the Department, and they will submit their final dissertation by 31st August.

While building on research and creative practice undertaken previously on their course, and the opportunity to extend any further aspects previously discussed, the topics and submission cannot duplicate material previously submitted for examination as part of the MA-programme.

Find out more about DRAM9950

Teaching

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by coursework, including practical and written components for each of the modules, and by the final term project with options for a dissertation or mixed practice and dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • Provide a taught Masters programme of excellent quality that offers sustained and intensive engagement within the specialised area of Physical Acting, reflecting the Drama Department’s international reputation of research excellence in this specialism and preparing students for employment and further study.
  • Offer opportunities for specialized development for graduate students as well as practicing artists and arts professionals nationally and internationally, meeting the lifelong needs of a diversity of students.
  • Promote knowledge and understanding, technical skills and practical competencies of professional physical acting practice and its relation to cultural, social, political and historic contexts, through teaching informed by leading research and scholarship in the field.
  • Provide high quality specialist teaching in supportive environments delivered by internationally leading experts, where students can refine their own practice and explore and develop their own distinctive strengths, qualities and style as emergent physical performers and makers.
  • Provide extensive opportunities for students to reflect upon and critically examine their practice, promoting significant individual personal and professional development
  • Enable students to initiate, self-direct and maintain independent approaches to their own learning and to develop their analytical, critical and interpretive skills, appropriate to postgraduate work
  • Develop graduates able to contribute richly and competently to the regional, national and international theatre and performance profession, who possess the unique knowledge and skills developed on this programme and thereby further consolidate the department’s global reputation in this area.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the history, forms, practices, traditions and current configurations of drama, theatre and performance
  • advanced critical, artistic and conceptual paradigms in order to comprehend, interpret and intelligently engage with the work of significant practitioners and theorists in the field
  • variant aesthetic, aesthetic, political, social, and intellectual contexts of drama, theatre and performance
  • the wider interdependence of creative practice, critical theory, production processes and cultural policies
  • the inherent interdisciplinary and trans-national location and context of theatre art and performance practice, and its relation to the public and audiences
  • innovative, challenging and informed methods and practices of making performance, the processes of rehearsal, writing, scoring, devising, sceneography, choreography, staging, promotion and training techniques.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • Understand the essential links between laboratory training and its application in acting and performance composition
  • Undertake research and creative investigations as well as develop artistic ideas in creative, independent, and critically reflective ways
  • Work autonomously on a performance project within set parameters and the ability to negotiate the various creative and administrative aspects of a performance process
  • Independently define a research topic and to autonomously undertake and complete advanced, systematic, in-depth research, either through academic research or through practice research 

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in: (These will include practise and professional skills)

  • Practical skills in physical and laboratory theatre training within a pre-professional academic context
  • The ability to develop, individually and within an ensemble, physical training processes, with particular emphasis on body flexibility and vocal range
  • Essential skills in a rehearsal process that link training with both independent and collaborative modes of composition and performance
  • Organisational, strategic and interpersonal competencies for working in the creative sector, including generating marketing material, funding bids and professional CVs
  • The documentation of creative processes and artistic work in effective formats as an integral part of the compositional and performance process 

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • Work autonomously and collaboratively with others in team structures, understanding and negotiating group dynamics and handling and solving interpersonal issues
  • Exercise initiative, take personal responsibility and discipline to define, set up, support, manage and realise a project over a sustained period of time within specified resource allocations of time, space and/or budget
  • Demonstrate sophisticated communication skills, both oral and written, negotiating, communicating, discussing and documenting ideas, visions and critique and argument in a coherent, productive, and effective way
  • Ability to frame, articulate, and communicate in sophisticated and coherent practice and/or writing the evidence base, debate and argument of the project/research undertaken
  • Skills in independent learning required for continuous professional development
  • Awareness of health and safety issues and risk assessment 

Fees

The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9500
  • EU full-time £13500
  • International full-time £18000

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies research was classified as ‘world-leading’ for impact and environment. 

Following the REF 2021, Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies at Kent was ranked 9th in the UK in the Times Higher Education.

Research

Research areas

Performance and Theatre Research Group

The Performance and Theatre Research Group’s mission is to create a warm and dynamic research community, welcoming everybody from 'Fresher to Professor'. We are a delightfully broad church, with well-established expertise in a broad range of subjects, including theatre history, performance and health, theatre and cognition, physical acting, applied theatre, performance and philosophy, performance and politics, European theatre, Greek theatre, theatre and adaptation, audience studies, cultural industries, variety theatre, puppetry, dance theatre, popular performance and stand-up comedy. We embrace a diversity of methodologies including, for example, Practice as Research, archival and participatory methods.

Histories: Art, Drama and Film Research Group

The Histories Research Group brings together staff and post-graduate students from across the School of Arts whose research involves a cultural historical approach to their field. It holds regular research seminars and supports student-led initiatives, such as organizing conferences.

Film, Media and Culture Research Group

The Group’s main objective is to support and produce cutting-edge research in the areas of film, media and culture. The Film, Media and Culture Research Group has interests in aesthetics, social roles, discursive formations, cultural meanings, psychological effects and/or economic realities. Drawing together scholars from across the University – including Arts, European Culture and Languages, Digital Arts and Engineering, History, English and American Studies, Law, Sociology and beyond – the Group has a lively,  research culture. Through our journal Film Studies and pioneering research projects and outputs we actively seek to shape the field, open lines of communication with the local community and engage with colleagues worldwide.

Aesthetics Research Centre

The Aesthetics Research Centre (ARC) coordinates, enables and promotes research in philosophy of art and aesthetics at the University of Kent. It is embeeded in the analytic tradition, and it is deeply committed to making connections and exploring synergies with  other approaches to thinking about art and culture. ARC comprises a vibrant community of staff and postgraduate students across the School of Arts and the Department of Philosophy, and its activities include an annual programme of research seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences.

Careers

Arts graduates have gone on to work in a range of professions from museum positions and teaching roles to working as journalists and theatre technicians. Our graduates have found work in Pinewood Studios, The National Theatre and other arts, culture and heritage-related organisations, in roles including editorial assistants and even stunt doubles.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School of Arts’ award-winning Jarman Building offers professional standard drama facilities, along with social spaces and a dedicated centre for postgraduate students.

Additional facilities across the Canterbury campus include two theatres: the 113-seat Aphra Theatre (a courtyard-type gallery theatre space); and the Lumley Theatre, which is a flexible and adaptable white room space. Drama students also benefit from an additional rehearsal studio, a sound studio, a theatre design suite and an extensively equipped construction workshop.

The University’s Templeman Library is well resourced in our subject area and houses special collections of 19th-century manuscripts – playbills, programmes, prints and other theatre ephemera – theatrical biography and the history of the stage in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also has particular strengths as a research resource in English Renaissance drama, Russian and French theatre, and British theatre since 1900. We also house the Jacques Copeau Archive and the British Grotowski collection.

Conferences and seminars

We have strong links with organisations such as the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) and the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), and encourage postgraduates to present work within national and international conferences. Also, we run regular research seminars, workshops, and performance-related events led by members of staff, students, and invited experts and practitioners.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: New Theatre Quarterly; Contemporary Theatre Review; TDR: The Drama Review; Performance Research; Shakespeare Survey.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

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