DRAM10080 Theatre & Activism

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module investigates how theatre and activism intersect, analysing the efficacy of activism on the stage and the performative elements of activism when it is off the stage. Establishing a working definition of activism, students will read plays and reflect on their activist themes and outcomes. Students will also consider the cultural and historical context of these works when assessing whether such plays leave a lasting mark as a form of activism and ask whether these themes enhance the artistic value. Students will also study certain approaches by theatre makers, performance artists, and others that are directly engaging in activism and assess whether these approaches are theatrical in nature and/or successful.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Completing this module, students should be able to:

- Assess and define the activist themes in plays
- Gain a broad knowledge of dramatic approaches to the topic
- Interpret the impact of activism in theatre works and in theatre-making
- Critically analyse performative/theatrical elements within activists’ approaches.
- Evaluate the efficacy and aims of activist theatre
- Acquire an understanding of how Activism in theatre has changed and evolved
- Grasp some of the key dramatic techniques employed by activist playwrights

Indicative Module Content:

Indicative Module Content (subject to change):
Lecture Schedule:

Class 1: Introduction: Defining Activism and its Place in Theatre

Class 2: The Good Person of Szechwan: Brecht’s Mark on Political and Activist Theatre

Class 3: Waiting for Lefty: Labor Rights and Audience Engagement

Class 4: Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and its Lasting Impact

Class 5: What Use are Flowers?: Activist Playwrights and Critiques of Power

Class 4: 1960s Radical Theatre: Antiwar and Radical Approaches to Activism

Class 5: Seven: Women and Gender Rights Activism

Class 6: The Normal Heart: AIDS Activism and LGBTQ+ Rights

Class 7: The Exonerated: A Case Study about Capital Punishment and Theatre’s Influence on Politics

Class 8: Performing Street Activism: How Can We Be Effective Activists?

Class 9: Lydia: Immigration and Disability Rights

Class 10: Climate Change on Stage and Beyond

Class 11: Theatre Activism Within: Evaluating Efforts in Current Theatre Practices to Change Longstanding Inequities

Class 12: Review and Preparation for Exam

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Approaches to Teaching and Learning:

Lectures about plays and broader activist implications about these works, including time given for brief student discussion and questions.

Small group learning involving discussion about plays/readings, reflection sheets about plays and readings, and one-on-one written feedback on assignments.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Mid-term assignment, week 6 Week 6 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: Weekly reflection sheets Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: End of semester exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Assessment Strategy: Continuous Assessment: Weekly Reflection Sheets and Attendance/Contribution – 30% Assignment: Critical Paper about Activism – Week 6 – 30% Examination: Exam (2 Hours) – End of Trimester – 40% Feedback Written feedback will be provided to students individually throughout semester. Feedback on mid-term paper given within two weeks. End of term exam feedback will be offered in the post-assessment period.

Name Role
Dr Jeanne Tiehen Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Catherine Casey Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 12:00 - 12:50