Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Musicality in Theatre and Performance

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Theatre Studies

DESCRIPTION Recent developments in Performance Studies point towards an idea of theatre beyond the field of drama. Over the past century theatre developed as an art form that incorporates various media of artistic expression functioning in a simultaneous relationship to each other. Theatre scholars and practitioners have constantly advocated a scenario where theatre is considered as a performance practice bringing together practitioners from different areas of creative expression.

In this respect theatre has been put in relation with other art forms by means of collaborative creative processes. The students will be introduced to Nietzsche’s seminal text The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, where Nietzsche argues that the birth of Western theatre has roots in musical activity. The study-unit will investigate recent developments in theatre research focusing on musicality and musicalised processes in theatre-making, locating these within a contemporary postdramatic critical context. The study-unit consists of lectures and seminar-based sessions.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to:

- Introduce students to specialised interdisciplinary approaches to theatre and performance through the analysis and application of musicality;
- Discuss twentieth-century and contemporary theatre theorists and practitioners who advocated dynamic relations between music and theatre;
- Equip students with the appropriate critical tools to study musicality and musicalisation as an emergent area of performance research.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

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

- Comprehend and apply specialised knowledge (musicality) to the study of theatre and performance;
- Synthesise synoptically their knowledge of theatre history and concepts via a specialised perspective;
- Identify and evaluate the dynamic relation between different artistic media;
- Analyse the socio-cultural and political constructs that determine understanding of aural phenomena such as noise, sound, language, and music.

2. Skills:

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

- Adopt an interdisciplinary approach as a tool for critique and analysis;
- Develop further skills in presenting arguments coherently and efficiently both in verbal and written language;
- Develop and maintain thorough and sophisticated arguments;
- Develop awareness of how to apply theory to practical research.

Main Text/s


- E. Barba and N. Savarese, A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology: The Secret Art of the Performer (London: Routledge, 2005)
- E. Barba, On Directing and Dramaturgy: Burning the House (London: Routledge, 2010)
- L. Flaszen, Grotowski and Company, (trans. P. Allain) (Holstebro-Malta-Wroclaw: Icarus, 2009
- F. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy: Out of the Spirit of Music (London: Penguin, 1994)
- H. Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life. Stuart Elden and Gerald Moore (trans.) (London and New York: Continuum, 2004)
- H-T. Lehmann, Postdramatic Theatre (London: Routledge, 2006)
- R. Scechner & L. Wolford (ed.), The Grotowski Sourcebook (London: Routledge, 1997).


- P. Auslander, (2006) ‘Musical Personae’, TDR: The Drama Review, 50 (1), 100-119
- E. Barba, (2000), ‘The Deep Order Called Turbulence: The Three Faces of Dramaturgy’, TDR: The Drama Review, 44 (4), 56-66
- C. Bouko, (2010), ‘Jazz Musicality in Postdramatic Theatre and the Opacity of Auditory Signs’, Studies in Musical Theatre, 4 (1), 75-87
- M. Frendo, (2013) ‘Embodied Musicality: Nietzsche, Grotowski and Musicalized Processes in Theatre Making’, Studies in Musical Theatre 7: 2, 207–19
- D. Roesner, (2010), ‘Musicality as a Paradigm for the Theatre: A Kind of Manifesto’, Studies in Musical Theatre 4 (3), 293-06
- N. Till, (2004), ‘“I don't mind if something's operatic as long as it's not opera.” A Critical Practice for New Opera and Music Theatre’, Contemporary Theatre Review 14 (1), 15-24.

Supplementary readings

- R. Brown, Sound: A Reader in Theatre Practice (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
- L. Kendrick and D. Roesner, Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2011)
- K. Stanislavsky, Stanislavsky on the Art of the Stage. David Magarshack (trans. and ed.) (London and Boston: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1980)
- K. Stanislavsky and P. Rumyantsev, Stanislavski on Opera. Elizabeth Raynolds Hapgood (trans.) (New York: Routledge, 1998).

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Seminar & Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation SEM1 No 30%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 70%

LECTURER/S Mario Frendo

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
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 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.