The Performance Arts strand is directed at aspiring creative practitioners who want to develop new and challenging performance forms, rooted in a rigorous engagement with the skills, theories, and histories of theatre and other performance arts. The curriculum’s integration of artistic development with curatorial and production skills prepares students to become independent practitioners, who are also enabled in working in key organizational, administrative and artistic positions across the arts. In the first two years, students take part in a highly guided programme that seeks to aid them in the development of their practice in three key areas: text/theory, body/movement, and materials/technology. In the final year students choose an area of focus, which will be developed and contextualized within negotiated independent projects. The strand is tailored towards the development of an individual creative identity, in the context of collaborative work where students will undertake different roles and positions to challenge their own process and ways of working.
The strand brings together the theoretical foundations of Performance and Theatre Studies, and focuses on the development of skills across a range of creative and contextual disciplines of contemporary performance arts practices. This includes areas as diverse as critical and creative writing, live art, object manipulation, Butoh, new media art and photography, as well as an engagement with visual dramaturgy and scenography. Projects are led by Central’s staff of internationally recognized artists and scholars, as well as a broad range of Visiting Lecturers who are leading practitioners from across the world. In the context of their development as artists, students will also be trained in the role of producer, acquiring skills in programming, marketing and finance, fundraising, production assisting and administration, to ensure that they are ready to create their own work and help others to produce their performances.
Throughout the course, students are constantly encouraged to challenge assumptions about the creation, understanding, and analysis of performance. Looking to the future of performance, dramaturgy, and curation, with an emphasis upon the interdisciplinary, they define their identity as practitioners. In this process, all students are asked to engage with work outside of their immediate areas of interest and reassess what they expect, know and value about art, and culture in general.
The first year offers provision in foundational knowledge of the practices, theories and histories of theatre and performance arts, in order to help contextualise, deconstruct and develop an individual practice. In addition, students will acquire fundamental skills in dramaturgy and textual analysis, contemporary movement practices, and working with materials. Here, the course engages with both studio-based visual art practices, and those emerging out of theatre processes. Throughout the year, students produce short pieces of work across a number of distinct collaborative projects, involving installation, immersive and traditional performance techniques. These projects are supported by skills sessions and seminars in applying research methods, reflective practice, and processes of documentation and criticism.
In the second year, focus is on the development and contextualisation of creative practice. Students undertake a creative project to engage with and develop strategies for interdisciplinary work, taught by internationally renowned practitioners. In the second year, students will also develop skills and knowledge in producing, management and programming. They will organize a festival of live performance at a public venue in London, mentored by a range of professional curators and producers, as well as complete a professional placement with a company or practitioner.
In the last year of the programme, students are given the opportunity to apply and refine their practice within a range of professional contexts. Specialist skills will be applied in creative practice through two major tasks designed by students with tutor guidance. Students are also guided in the preparation of a portfolio, which might include archives of projects they are involved in during the year, and an examination and presentation of different working processes. Through regular seminars and mentorships, students are acquainted with the dominant problematics and discourses in the performance arts, and made aware of the potential contexts of their work. Students are required to support their learning in a vocational setting beyond Central. In this context, students are invited to personally research, both practically and theoretically, areas of key interest and to be assessed against a chosen practitioner identity.