Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Popular Performance

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Theatre Studies

DESCRIPTION The study-unit will develop a study of Commedia dell'Arte as the first form of widespread popular and professional theatre after the Middle Ages. It will examine the concept of 'popular performance' in the light of the theatrical event, and will expound upon popular forms of performance, such as public celebrations, including Carnival. Students will also carry out fieldwork research on an area of investigation identified with the lecturer. This material will be presented in the form of an assignment.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to:
- Provide a comprehensive knowledge of 'Commedia dell'Arte';
- Define and problematise the concepts of 'public performance' and 'theatrical event';
- Locate these concepts within the context of theatre and performance;
- Examine different forms of popular performance.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Place the importance of Commedia dell'arte within a historical framework, and understand its legacy as a popular and theatrical form;
- Evaluate the concept of performance and performativity within the context of popular events;
- Examine theatrical events in Malta and beyond;
- Undertake fieldwork.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Demonstrate skills in self-management and independent working;
- Demonstrate skills in teamwork, fieldwork management, and problem solving;
- Demonstrate communication and presentational skills in writing and debate;
- Carry out research using the appropriate research methodologies, including those pertinent to fieldwork.

Main Text/s:

- N. Allardyce,The world of harlequin: a critical study of the Commedia dell'Arte (Cambridge: CUP, 1963)
- B. Kershaw, The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention (Milton Park & New York: Routledge, 1992)
- B. Mason, Street Theatre and Other Outdoor Performance (London and New York: Routledge, 1992)
- J. Rudlin, Commedia dell'Arte. A Handbook for troupes (London and New York: Routledge, 2001)
- R. and L. Richards, The Commedia dell'arte. A Documentary History (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990)
- M. C. Riggio, Carnival Culture in Action: the Trinidad Experience (Milton Park and New York: Routledge, 2004)
- V. Scott, The Commedia dell'Arte in Paris (University of Virginia Press, 1999)
- V.A. Cremona, et. al. eds., Theatrical events : borders, dynamics, frames (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004)

Supplementary readings:

- F. Taviani and M. Schino, Il segreto della Commedia dell'Arte : la memoria delle compagnie italiane del XVI, XVII e XVIII secolo (Firenze: Casa Usher,1986)
- S. Ferrone, Attori, mercanti, corsari : la commedia dell'arte in Europa tra Cinque e Seicento, (Turin: Einaudi, 1993)
- R. Alonge, Dalla commedia dell'arte al dramma borghese (Italy: Garzanti, 2004)
- M. Green and J. Swan, The triumph of Pierrot : the commedia dell'arte and the modern imagination (Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State UP, 1993)
- R. De Simone, A. Rossi, Carnevale si chiamava Vincenzo: rituali di carnevale in Campania (Rome: Documenti e ricerche del Museo nazionale delle arti e tradizioni popolari, 1977).

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Fieldwork and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.