Exploring the context – Rhinegold Publishing

Exploring the context


Placing recognised theatrical practitioners into historical context can be a tricky business for many students. Was Brecht 20th century or 19th? Did Artaud influence Berkoff – or was it the other way round? What is the connection that takes the line from Henry Irving through to John Gielgud – and is it important for us to know?

The challenge in exploring the historical context of theatre with students is to establish in their minds that there is not a straightforward handover from one development to the next, but that there is always a period of overlap during which a number of developments are being explored by a number of practitioners – and only some of these are now recognised as major influences on modern-day theatrical practice. 

Meeting this challenge head-on is probably the most effective way of dealing with it. The following series of one-hour sessions assumes very little knowledge of theatrical history but some knowledge of practical drama. The purpose of the sessions is to take this practical knowledge and develop a series of connections through exploration into the work of major practitioners and theatrical movements. This approach can be divided up over a period of time during the course or integrated as part of an induction programme.

What is important is to build on the strengths of the candidates as they see them right from the start – and most candidates at AS level will see their strengths in practical drama. They have selected a further course of study because of their success at GCSE but they need to be aware that now their understanding of performance must also be communicated in writing. Some candidates will struggle with this. The collective approach means that all are supported and developed within the group.

This scheme includes reference to the following playwrights:

  • Berkoff
  • Shakespeare
  • John Gay
  • Brecht

        Number of lessons: 5

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