The MA Applied Theatre encourages investigation into the possibilities and contradictions of drama and theatre practice as transformative and rehabilitative, and engages practically and critically with a range of theories and current practices.
Key features of the MA Applied Theatre are: exploration of theatre work in specific settings; key practices in applied theatre; project-based study examining specific professional work with a varied range of client groups; or specialising in working with people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system.
This course develops knowledge of the ways in which drama and theatre are used to benefit a range of distinct groups that are key to today’s evolving cultural landscape. The course offers two specialist pathways: Drama in the Community and Drama Education or Drama and the Criminal Justice System. Each pathway is specifically designed to support current practice at work, or a particular field of interest in the developing landscape of applied theatre and drama in the UK. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own practice and scholarship.
MA Applied Theatre > Drama in the Community and Drama Education
This pathway is for individuals wishing to develop current – or new – practice of using theatre and drama with people in a range of settings that may include schools, theatres, outreach departments, hospitals and prisons.
Concerned with advanced enquiry into theatre for change or education, this pathway enables students to situate their own emergent/developing practice within a wider understanding of the applied theatre field. Delivery of the course involves contributions and placement opportunities from prestigious key UK organisations.
MA Applied Theatre > Drama and the Criminal Justice System
This pathway is for individuals wishing to develop current – or new – practice of using theatre and drama with people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system.
Concerned with advanced enquiry into prison theatre, this pathway enables you to situate your own emergent/developing practice within a wider understanding of the applied theatre field. Delivery of the course involves contributions and placement opportunities from prestigious key UK organisations.
In both pathways during Terms One and Two, students will investigate applied theatre in a variety of contexts, communities and settings. Students will explore the field’s diverse practices and engage creatively with the forms and aesthetics of applied theatre, the transformative potential of theatre and the ethics of intervention and notions of inclusive practice when working with specific groups. The units will focus on theatre practices that promote inclusion and will address the ways in which theatre can be an agent for change, enablement and transformation while problematising these terms. Students will participate in workshops and seminars to explore practices that make a difference to people by engaging with issues, dramatising relevant stories, representing role models or possibilities for action, and involving participants in processes that they find useful, informative or exciting. This will also develop an understanding of the social and cultural contexts of applied theatre.
For both pathways, study is undertaken through traditional academic means as well as hands-on learning. Learning will be guided by tuition from professional specialists involved in theatre in a variety of community settings, including the academic experience of Central’s renowned applied theatre and drama education tutors. Students will have the opportunity to engage with relevant research methods in their field, usually presenting their work at Central’s annual postgraduate conference.
During Term Three, students may undertake project (or further placement/professional practice) work as part of an assessed unit. On the Drama in the Community and Drama Education pathway, students could work individually or as part of a small group on a practical project, which might include an arts residency in a primary or special needs school, a devised play and workshops for refugee children in the UK or abroad, creative playwriting workshops with selected client groups, or a performance and workshop on Bertolt Brecht’s theatre practice for post-16 students in schools and colleges in and around London. On the Drama and the Criminal Justice pathway, students could work individually, or as part of a small group, on a practical project which might include a residency in a prison or young offenders’ institution, a devised play and workshops with fathers in prison for their children, or creative playwriting workshops with prisoners or ex-prisoners. In both pathways, you will theorise this work, interrogating its relationship within current and seminal discourses in the field.
Term Three may lead to a performance with a specified community, or may be more process orientated. Recent examples of project work include a community radio project in Brazil, a series of workshops with the young platform dwellers of Jaipur station in India, working with students in a hospital school in London, teaching English as a second language through drama with hotel staff in Thailand, working on Shakespeare in performance with a youth theatre, developing a range of theatre activities within a centre for the homeless in London, and introducing drama techniques to a special needs school in Ghana.
Recent examples of work within the criminal justice system have included an arts residency in Feltham HMYOI, and a variety of performance related work at Doncaster Prison working with Second Shot in the areas of restorative justice, Theatre-in-Education (TIE) for those at risk and devising and performing plays for invited audiences.
Students may also work alongside a professional host or in one of Central’s partner placement institutions in the third term, or use their own work-based practice. In addition, students have the option to join one of Central’s many cross-School optional courses.
At the end of the year, students on both pathways consolidate their knowledge and understanding through a sustained independent project (SIP). This is a dissertation about an area of particular interest in Applied Theatre.
Routes onto the MA Applied Theatre: Central offers a PG Certificate Applied Theatre with Young People, Directing Text in association with the National Theatre, as part of their National Connections scheme, or in Facilitation, in association with the Almeida Theatre Workshop Leader Scheme (see page 101). These two routes offer direct entry onto either pathway of the MA Applied Theatre.