Module Identifier DRM0930  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor David I Rabey  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Other   21 contact hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essay 7,500 words maximum  100%
Further details For information on due dates for submission of assessed work, please refer to the departmental web pages at  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should have
Developed written skills through work on, and submission of, a substantial essay which must demonstrate capacities for analysis and argument;   

Demonstrated personal initiative in negotiating conceptual terrain largely unmapped (or considered only superficially) by much drama criticism, and relating this to broader theories of theatre;

Developed oral skills through following lectures and participating in seminar discussions on these topics.


  1. To develop an understanding of contemporary experimental British drama.
  2. To develop methodology an vocabulary relating to relevant theories of theatre and drama.
  3. To develop an informal and thorough discourse of critique of contemporary British drama and theatre.
  4. To provide opportunities for assessing theatre artists' practice in the
  5. light of theory and criticism


This module considers (i) examples of experimental British drama from 1970 to the present which have deliberately chosen to break with dominant modes and expectations of naturalism and realism (ii) the extent of their possible identification as a form of 'new expressionism' - and demands discussion of the similarities and differences in style and objective between the drama considered and "classical" forms of dramatic expressionism, usually associated primarily with German drama of the interwar period (distinctions between epic and postmodern forms of drama will also be sought) (iii) the ways in which the texts selected, though manifested as drama, call conventional terms of theatre and theatricality into question .
Particular attention will be paid to issues involved in (i) staging explicit and violent scenes as a deliberate challenge to artistic and social terms of control (ii) problems of dramatizing the non-rational (iii) use of deliberate references to earlier theatrical forms (Greek, Renaissance, Restoration) and subversion of conventional notions of theatricality, and (iv) the use of stylised language and challenging stage directions to create an urgent and visceral modern poetics of stage performance and mise-en-scene.
Whilst there is a strong argument for the parallel consideration of non-text-based contemporary expressionist performance, it is envisaged that this might form part of another module, or a substantial augmentation and reorientation of this one, at a later date.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Wood, Charles Dingo Methuen
Williams, Heathcote AC/DC Calder
Bond, Edward Early Morning, Lear Methuen
Barnes, Peter The Bewitched Methuen
Pinter, Harold Mountain Language, Party Time Faber
Kane, Sarah Blasted, Cleansed Methuen
Rudkin, David The Sons of Light, The Triumph of Death Methuen
Brenton, Howard The Romans in Britain, Berlin Bertie Methuen / NHB
Berkoff, Steven Greek, East, West Calder / Faber
Churchill, Caryl A Mouthful of Birds, The Striker NHB
Barker, Howard Victory Calder
Wertenbaker, Timberlake The Grace of Mary Traverse Faber
Edwards, Dic Wittgenstein's Daughter Oberon
Cartwright, Jim Bed, I Licked a Slag's Deodorant Methuen
Thomas, Ed 3 Plays, Gas Station Angel Seren / Methuen
Barker, Howard Rome, Ursula Calder
Ridley, Philip Plays: 1 Methuen
Motton, Gregory The Terrible Voice of Satan, Cat and Mouse (Sheep) Oberon
** Recommended Background
On Expressionism: Eisner, Lotte H (1969) The Haunted Screen London: Thames & Hudson
Patterson, Michael (1981) The Revolution in German Theatre, 1900 - 1933 London: RKP
Willett, John (1970) Expressionism London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson
On Contemporary Drama: Cohn, Ruby (1991) Retreats from Realism in Recent English Drama Cambridge: CUP
Rabey, David Ian (1989) Howard Barker: Politics and Desire Basingstoke: Macmillan
Rabey, David Ian (1997) David Rudkin: Sacred Disobedience London: Harwood
Worth, Katherine J (1972) Revolutions in Modern English Drama London: Bell


This module is at CQFW Level 7